Instead of just sending out video game rentals by mail, GameFly plans to stream them over the Internet with a new app for Amazon Fire TV.
GameFly's service will offer several bundles of streaming games, with most bundles costing $7 per month. Similar to other services such as Nvidia Grid and Sony's Playstation Now, the heavy graphics processing for these games is handled on remote servers and streamed as compressed video, allowing modern games to run on lightweight hardware. The streaming technology will come from Israeli firm Playcast, which GameFly has just acquired.
Here's a rundown of the subscriptions GameFly plans to offer:
- Action Pack: F.E.A.R. 3, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, Red Faction: Armageddon, Red Faction: Guerrilla, Mafia II, Sleeping Dogs, and Hitman
- Adventure Pack: Dark Void, Overlord II, Darksiders, Darksiders II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, and Batman: Arkham Origins
- Speed Pack: Ace Combat, Dirt 3, GRID, GRID 2, MotoGP13, Ridge Racer Unbounded, and WRC 4
- Fun Pack: Flock!, PAC-MAN Championship Edition, PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures, LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams -- Rise of the Owlverlord, and BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger
- Lego Pack: LEGO Batman, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, LEGO Lord of the Rings, LEGO Harry Potter 5-7, LEGO Marvel: Super Heroes, and LEGO The Hobbit
- Gamer Pack ($10 per month): F.E.A.R.3, Red Faction:Armageddon, Red Faction: Guerrilla, Sleeping Dogs, Hitman, Darksiders, Darksiders II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origins, Shank, Shank 2, Dark Void, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, Mafia II, and Overlord II
Anyone who's familiar with streaming game services should recognize a lot of the titles on offer. The bulk of them come from the back catalogs of THQ and Warner Bros., which also make their games available on Nvidia GRID and Playstation Now. Nvidia's catalog is much broader, however, and Sony has its stable of first-party Playstation 3 classics to draw upon.
While GameFly clearly has some catching up to do with its catalog, it plans to be available on a wider range of devices than its competitors. The company told Ars Technica that the Fire TV app is just a start, and Playcast is also working to rebrand its existing apps for Ouya and smart TVs. It's unclear exactly when GameFly's service will launch, but the company is letting people sign up for notifications on its website.
The story behind the story : GameFly's preparations for the demise of optical media may seem long overdue, but streaming is still a young and unproven model for video games. OnLive, one of the first cloud gaming services, closed up shop in April, while Nvidia and Sony are just starting to roll out their own subscription models. Meanwhile, major publishers such as EA, Actvision, and Ubisoft haven't shown much interest in these services, making them non-starters for serious gamers. All of which is to say that if GameFly is going to find any success here, it'll need to be in it for the long haul.