Piepacker’s pitch is very simple: classic games, playable instantly in your browser, with — and this is the important part — multiplayer enabled and integrated video chat. It’s cloud gaming and a virtual hangout rolled into one, it’s free to play, and inviting a friend is as easy as pinging them a link.
Piepacker has yet to really make a name for itself, although it has attracted support from the retro community with a successful Kickstarter campaign, as well as investment from the Lego Group, among others. It’s not necessarily the future, but whether it succeeds or not, there is something there: a different way to conceive of cloud gaming, contrasting with the high-tech approach of the likes of Google Stadia and Xbox Cloud Gaming.
“When I was a kid, I used to have the Game Boy, and I was dreaming about another device, which was the Game Gear by Sega,” said Benjamin Devienne, Co-Founder and CEO of Piepacker. “In hindsight, [Nintendo] won this battle with accessibility and low tech. And when we started to look at the cloud gaming space, we were like, Hey, every service is awesome, like Google Stadia, PlayStation Now, but they’re designed for a world where you have fiber, where it’s 4K, 60 frames per second. This is a world where you have a lot of Game Gears, and we’re like, Hey, can we build the first Game Boy of the cloud gaming space — something that is much lower tech, but with a much lower footprint?”
The result is a cloud gaming service that uses 60 times less bandwidth than Google Stadia. That’s good news for Piepacker, lowering its costs considerably and making its free-to-play business model possible. It’s good news for the environment — cloud gaming services that require high bandwidth and lots of computing power at the server end can be very energy-intensive over long play sessions. And it’s great news for users who have less than stellar internet service at home.
Retro is where Piepacker has established its niche so far, but for Devienne, it has been a means to an end for getting the service off the ground. He’s not interested in creating a licensing-based retro streaming catalog like Antstream’s (which has a much deeper game selection than Piepacker but lacks its social features). There’s no intention to start charging a subscription or anything of the sort. Rather, Devienne is hoping to host more modern indie titles and turn Piepacker into a marketplace where developers can monetize their games how they like (with Piepacker taking a cut).
(All information was provided by Polygon)
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