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News Plex launches a subscription-based retro game streaming service, ‘Plex Arcade’

Jethalal

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Plex launches a subscription-based retro game streaming service, ‘Plex Arcade’ | TechCrunch

Plex, the media software maker that’s expanded into streaming in recent years, is adding to its service once again with today’s launch of game streaming. Unlike other game streaming efforts from companies like Microsoft or Google, the new “Plex Arcade” isn’t focused on top gaming titles and new releases, but rather on retro games. At launch, the service is offering around 30 games, including titles like Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Adventure and Ninja Golf.

The game streaming service was spun out of Plex’s in-house incubator, Plex Labs, and represents more of a passion project for the company, rather than some larger shift in direction, we’re told. The technology to make it available was already 95% built, so the team decided to put together the game streaming service as a surprise for users, as well as a way to expand Plex’s core mission of becoming a broader entertainment platform.

The game service was built with the help of new partner Parsec and its underlying, low-latency streaming technology, Plex says. This made it possible to bring fully playable game libraries to Plex.
To build the game library, Plex partnered with Atari to license a catalog of classic titles.

At launch, the full list of games include: 3D Tic-Tac-Toe, Adventure, Alien Brigade, Aquaventure, Asteroids, Avalanche, Basketbrawl, Centipede, Combat, Dark Chambers, Desert Falcon, Fatal Run, Food Fight (Charley Chuck’s), Gravitar, Haunted House, Human Cannonball, Lunar Battle, Lunar Lander, Major Havoc, Millipede, Missile Command, Motor Psycho, Ninja Golf, Outlaw, Planet Smashers, Radar Lock, Sky Diver, Sky Raider, Solaris and Super Breakout.


Due to the partnership and licensing fees involved with the project, Plex Arcade will not be a free addition.

Instead, it will be offered as a separate subscription for $2.99 per month for existing Plex Pass subscribers (Plex’s existing $4.99/mo plan). For nonsubscribers, Plex Arcade is $4.99 per month. A free, 7-day trial is also available.

Plex Arcade’s server will require either a Windows or Mac to run (due to Parsec’s limitations), which means it won’t work on Linux, NAS devices or NVIDIA Shield. Gameplay, meanwhile, is restricted to iOS, Android (mobile or TV), tvOS and the Chrome web browser.

It will also support Bluetooth and USB game controllers that are compatible with your device, or you can use a keyboard for Chrome-based gaming. Plex recommends the Sony DualShock 4 or Xbox One controller for the best results.

The company is taking a wait-and-see approach to expanding the service over time. If it demonstrates interest and traction in the form of subscriptions, Plex may consider growing it further.
Plex Arcade is available as of today.

-Focus on retro games
-Built with help of Parsec and game library by Atari
-$2.99 for Plex subscribers and 4.99 for non-subscribers.
-Windows and Mac
-Available now
-Can add your own ROMs and emulators.

Arcade | Plex
 
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jshackles

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jshackles jshackles you try this by chance?

Might give it a shot. I like the idea of hitting my game stuff outside of my house (if it works that way).
I haven't tried it, but I wonder who this is for exactly? Like - who has a device that's capable of game streaming (modern phone) that isn't powerful enough to run Centipede?

I get that you can add your own ROMs - but what's the upper limit here? Can it do PS2 games? Can I load up the Yuzu emulator and play Breath of the Wild on my phone? It all seems to go through this Parsec thing, which is free. So, I guess like most things Plex-related, you're just paying for the database stuff? And the built-in Atari library, I guess.

So I suppose I'm kinda baffled why someone would pay $3 or $5 per month for this.
 

01011001

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a retro game streaming service has to be the dumbest thing I've ever heard

I bet it is less taxing for the hardware to emulate these retro systems than it is to encode the stream.
also the roms are most likely smaller than the data used to stream 2 seconds of them
 
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Agent X

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Cool concept, although it might not be for me, as I already have access to virtually every one of those games in one form or another.

It's an interesting mix of games, as they've got 2600, 7800, and arcade games in there. There are a few games in there such as Food Fight and Solaris that have not appeared in most of the official Atari compilations over the last 20 years (it's worth mentioning that both of these games are available on the Evercade).

As much as I adore some of these old Atari games, I think they need to broaden up the library a lot more for the fee that they're charging.

I get that you can add your own ROMs - but what's the upper limit here? Can it do PS2 games? Can I load up the Yuzu emulator and play Breath of the Wild on my phone? It all seems to go through this Parsec thing, which is free. So, I guess like most things Plex-related, you're just paying for the database stuff? And the built-in Atari library, I guess.


I'm also curious about how you "add your own ROMs" to this service. Would you upload them to their server somehow (such as through a computer)? Could I upload (for example) ROM images of NeoGeo games that I legally acquired? On that note, how would they be able to discern whether the ROMs that are supplied by the end user were "legally acquired" to begin with?

This aspect of the service might have a very narrow appeal, since it's a safe assumption that anyone who has ROM images and the ability to upload them also has the means to play these ROMs without having to go through a streaming service.
 
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wtftad

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I haven't tried it, but I wonder who this is for exactly? Like - who has a device that's capable of game streaming (modern phone) that isn't powerful enough to run Centipede?

I get that you can add your own ROMs - but what's the upper limit here? Can it do PS2 games? Can I load up the Yuzu emulator and play Breath of the Wild on my phone? It all seems to go through this Parsec thing, which is free. So, I guess like most things Plex-related, you're just paying for the database stuff? And the built-in Atari library, I guess.

So I suppose I'm kinda baffled why someone would pay $3 or $5 per month for this.
Yeah! The additional sub (on top of using my server for hosting my emu's and roms) is a hard ask. I will check it out to see what it can do, but it does seem like a sub/cash grab and as a bonus it is cheaper than the new Atari console (which technically you could run this server on I guess).
 
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jshackles

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I'm also curious about how you "add your own ROMs" to this service. Would you upload them to their server somehow (such as through a computer)? Could I upload (for example) ROM images of NeoGeo games that I legally acquired? On that note, how would they be able to discern whether the ROMs that are supplied by the end user were "legally acquired" to begin with?

This aspect of the service might have a very narrow appeal, since it's a safe assumption that anyone who has ROM images and the ability to upload them also has the means to play these ROMs without having to go through a streaming service.
The whole thing runs on top of the Plex Server software, which you run on a Windows PC or Mac. So the games themselves will be "running" on that server device. So rather than uploading them to a server somewhere, you'll just copy them to a particular folder on your computer. There probably isn't any verification done on the ROM files themselves. This is basically Steam streaming, but just for Retro Games.

If your computer is turned off at home, none of this will work.
 

DGrayson

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Will it stream outside your network like movies and shows?

Im a Plexpass user (have the Plex Pass/Tidal Lossless joint subscription), but this might be just too far/unnecssary.
 

EverydayBeast

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Feels like one big fat turd of a service what am I supposed to do with classic games if the internet goes out, tired of games getting whored out over every medium in 20 years you can play any game on any piece of electronics.
 

jshackles

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Here's what makes absolutely no sense to me...

Take a game like Pitfall for the Atari 2600. That game is all of what? 4KB? One or two frames of video data alone would far eclipse the entirety of the game's code. They just need some sort of slick local client that can download the ROM from your library and start playing it natively, which would be hugely more efficient.
 
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01011001

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Here's what makes absolutely no sense to me...

Take a game like Pitfall for the Atari 2600. That game is all of what? 4KB? One or two frames of video data alone would far eclipse the entirety of the game's code. They just need some sort of slick local client that can download the ROM from your library and start playing it natively, which would be hugely more efficient.

yeah exactly. also emulating these games is most likely less computationally intensive than decoding that stream.

classic games streaming services are legitimately the dumbest idea ever.

#1: they are tiny and download in less tham a second
#2: they are super easy to emulate on basic any modern device that has a processor
#3: they often are heavily dependent on fast input response because they were A: designed for CRT TVs and B: often deliberately hard to strech out completion time

so all the benefits of streaming don't work here as anyone can download and play these games on basically any device within a second and the negatives are even worse here than in modern games

it is beyond ridiculous to even come up with such a service
 
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Fuz

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jshackles

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yeah exactly. also emulating these games is most likely less computationally intensive than decoding that stream.

classic games streaming services are legitimately the dumbest idea ever.

#1: they are tiny and download in less tham a second
#2: they are super easy to emulate on basic any modern device that has a processor
#3: they often are heavily dependent on fast input response because they were A: designed for CRT TVs and B: often deliberately hard to strech out completion time

so all the benefits of streaming don't work here as anyone can download and play these games on basically any device within a second and the negatives are even worse here than in modern games

it is beyond ridiculous to even come up with such a service
That was pretty much my thinking as well. All of this could effectively be sidestepped by a) installing an emulator such as Retroarch on your phone, b) configuring it to auto launch for the ROM file type, and c) putting your ROMs in a Google Drive share.

Open Google Drive -> click game you want to play -> game downloads in seconds and launches on your device natively. And even that isn't the most efficient way to do it.
 

01011001

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That was pretty much my thinking as well. All of this could effectively be sidestepped by a) installing an emulator such as Retroarch on your phone, b) configuring it to auto launch for the ROM file type, and c) putting your ROMs in a Google Drive share.

Open Google Drive -> click game you want to play -> game downloads in seconds and launches on your device natively. And even that isn't the most efficient way to do it.

a service that does all that automatically on the fly and then deletes the ROM files again when not used would be a somewhat neat idea.

honestly, you wouldn't even need to download the rom, such an app could simply load the ROM into ram and be done with it.

you can basically already do that on many sites with embedded emulators.

on Xbox One/Series X|S you can go on a website that's designed for the edge browser of the console, and load roms off of your OneDrive and it also saves on it.
it supports SNES, GB, NES and multiple other old systems
 
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Spukc

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NO PLEX BAD PLEX



stop fucking adding shit just STFU and stream my vids.
 

Sejan

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a retro game streaming service has to be the dumbest thing I've ever heard

I bet it is less taxing for the hardware to emulate these retro systems than it is to encode the stream.
also the roms are most likely smaller than the data used to stream 2 seconds of them
Honestly, I think it would be a better experience to stream the emulator and roms and run it locally. Streaming the Atari library just doesn’t make sense in any scenario.
 

01011001

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Honestly, I think it would be a better experience to stream the emulator and roms and run it locally. Streaming the Atari library just doesn’t make sense in any scenario.

yeah even the emulator for a 2600 has to be less than 10MB surely. so an app could literally just load both the emulator and the rom into the RAM of your device and run it locally within 2 seconds

the funny thing is this is already the second service like this that I know of.

the other one is called Antstream I think? it's crazy how multiple companies could come up with the same ridiculously bad idea within a few months of eachother
 
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Sejan

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yeah even the emulator for a 2600 has to be less than 10MB surely. so an app could literally just load both the emulator and the rom into the RAM of your device and run it locally within 2 seconds

the funny thing is this is already the second service like this that I know of.

the other one is called Antstream I think? it's crazy how multiple companies could come up with the same ridiculously bad idea within a few months of eachother
Not to mention that any device that has the power to stream video will easily have enough to run most any retro emulator. Retro game streaming is a terrible waste of bandwidth and it would be much more cost effective for them to just stream the data itself.
 

dvdvideo

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The only way I would ever pay them $3 a month is if they build a super slick front end and took out all the hard work out of emulators for all the systems. Just point to Roms on hard drive and thats it. And it would have support xbox and ps5 controllers.
 

BigBooper

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They'll probably find 2 or 3 people willing to pay $5 a month to stream Centipede and Asteroids, but why?
 

Bullet Club

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In this video, we take a look at an test out PLEX Arcade and an all-new subscription service from Plex that allows you to steam Retro games from your PLEX server and play them on any device that supports Plex like iPad, iPhone, Android phones, android tablets, Android TVs. It includes about 24 ATARI games and you can others like NES, SNES, GBA, Sega Genesis, and more but is it worth $2.99-$4.99 a month? Is it any good? Let's find out.
 
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