Saturday 27 September 2014

My Amazon-Twitch Fan Fic

Twitch is a website dedicated to live-streaming video games. It is my primary source of entertainment and to be honest, my only one true love. The recent Amazon-Twitch acquisition not only has the potential to make for a better Twitch experience, but could change Twitch's product offering.

A few weeks ago (before the acquisition), I ventured out to an AWS meet up, expecting to learn about Amazon Web Services (deploying web applications to the cloud). Turns out I had read the invitation incorrectly, and I walked into a Amazon Work Spaces demonstration. All attendees worked for financial intermediaries and what not so I felt out of place amidst all the fancy suits and well-polished shoes in my school-girl tartan skirt and people stomping boots.

Other than learning that I found desktop deployment soul-wrenchingly monotonous, at the conclusion of the presentation, they displayed a really awesome new product called Amazon AppStream. It is for highly resource-intensive applications, like video games, 3D modelling and visual editing, running in the cloud. They conducted a demonstration running Diablo 3 so that the visuals were streamed to the screen while controls were streamed to the server in real time. I was super impressed as it was effectively high definition, low latency gaming, my only two criteria for a satisfying gaming experience (other than the game). The critical thing is that it was done using a Microsoft Surface Pro which lacks the hardware to play such games, especially with such a sleek form-factor.

At the time, I thought it was a shame. Amazon will not be able to market this sort of technology to the general public. Through an outlet like Twitch, I believe that now it is possible.

The hardware needed to play the majority of games can be quite an investment. Add high quality streaming, high quality audio and film peripherals and that's something else altogether. Large streamers like DethRidge (who receives an average of 3,000 concurrent viewers) need to purchase two computers to maintain the quality of their stream. One for playing video games at a high quality, another to capture the screen at a high resolution.

DethRidgeCraft's PC's ($1495 + $855 disregarding peripherals)
Perhaps every single one of my friends (not that I have many) has told me that they would like to start streaming but they lack the equipment to do so.

For the majority of streamers, attaining hardware is one of their main problems, as a low quality stream can really put off the average Twitch viewer which prevent small streams from getting their fair consideration. A large segment of potential streamers are typically students without capital to invest but lots of time to spare, the perfect streamer.

There is a massive untapped market that AppStream could theoretically fulfill. In regards to Twitch, it will be unnecessary for a streamer to upload visuals and audio from both the game and their webcam. Rather, they would download visuals (which is usually more efficient than uploading), their input and web cam will be uploaded, then synced using AppStream and AWS then distributed to Twitch viewers.

This opens opportunities for pass the controller, "Twitch plays insert name", less lag and allows all streamers to have the option of maintaining a high quality stream.

This is meant to be a very high level wish list. There are tonnes of details missing that need to be considered but I don't work for Twitch or Amazon oh well.

On a side note, if AppStream or any sort of ubiquitous gaming platform was commercialised, I don't think it will do well for the gaming industry. There will be little incentive to update graphics or performance and god forbid, console gaming will become the "classic" way of gaming. Although, internet speed will never be more crucial and I'm not going to lie, I don't understand why people need faster internet but this is totally a legitimate reason.

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