Alienware's new game-streaming box can run four sessions at once
Alienware's new Concept Nyx game-streaming device would supply all the necessary horsepower for four concurrent gaming sessions on any screen in the house, opening up some interesting options like super-simple switching between different screens.
Game streaming is only just beginning to take off in a big way – but with the latest game consoles and high-end graphics cards proving extremely difficult to get hold of even more than a year after their launch, the idea must be looking more attractive than ever. Services like Google Stadia, GeForce Now, Parsec and others tell gamers to forget about hardware; it can live in the cloud. If you've got a quick enough internet connection, you can send your control inputs to a juiced-up game server online and have a high-res stream of your game come back in near-to real time.
Alienware, however, has a different take on the idea. Its new Concept Nyx idea proposes sticking a game-streaming server right there in your home, turning any screen into a high-end, low-latency gaming machine.
The concept is currently prototyped and in the process of testing. It would allow up to four users to run concurrent sessions using hand-held controllers, streaming vision and audio out to any device – laptops, TVs, desktops, tablets, phones – that can install the app. This would make it a piece of cake to, say, throw your session up on the big-screen TV in the living room when your dad wandered off to the bathroom, or to quickly switch to a very small screen so you don't get caught looking like a pervert when a romance scene is coming in hot.
"Because the processing happens locally (versus needing to travel to and from distant servers), it could offer lower latency, greater bandwidth and more responsiveness," reads an Alienware blog, "ultimately solving some of the performance shortfalls of current alternatives like cloud gaming. This means multiplayer latency could reach single-digit milliseconds to dramatically decrease any lag of modern-day cloud gaming systems. Pretty cool, huh?"
Pretty cool indeed – although slightly less cool when you imagine the muscle required to run a Cyberpunk 2077, a Call of Duty, a Fortnite and a Rocket League simultaneously – not to mention the bandwidth, assuming some of these games are running online multiplayer.
It'll be a pricey beast, then, and will likely require several of those elusive high-end graphics cards so beloved by crypto-miners and scalpers. While Alienware touts it as "the future of gaming," this is at present just a concept and an R&D project. Should it make it to market, the pricing is going to have to be pretty aggressive, seeing as how it really only starts delivering benefits over a console or gaming PC when several people are using it at once.
Not to mention, it'll eventually need to be upgraded; one of the big selling points of Stadia-style online game streaming services is that you'll never need to buy new hardware to run a new game, or replace it if it gets orange juice in it; that's the host's responsibility. With Concept Nyx, you'll be the host.
Still, an interesting idea. There are certainly households right now where four people want to play games at once, and gaming certainly isn't getting any less popular in the foreseeable future. Perhaps there's a market for this sort of device.