In a bet on game streaming, Electronic Arts buys GameFly cloud technology

Electronic Arts looks to be moving into the cloud gaming space — possibly to offer a streaming service — with its most recent purchase. The publishing giant has acquired the technology and team members behind GameFly’s cloud gaming division, and the move could hint at more diverse release models for its games.

The acquisition, which was finalized this month, gives Electronic Arts control of GameFly’s cloud gaming “technology assets” as well as the employees working on it, who are based in Israel. Currently, GameFly offers its own streaming service that doesn’t require a game console, with the Amazon Fire TV device and several smart televisions capable of running the games. It’s relatively cheap, with “gamer” and “family” packages each available for less than $10 per month, and you can even play local multiplayer games — the 5 Mbps required internet speed is also low enough to make it widely accessible.

“Cloud gaming opens up new possibilities to expand the reach of games by streaming high-quality entertainment to more players, on more devices, in more geographic regions of the world,” EA said in a press release. “With this acquisition, EA is adding to its strategic focus on advanced technologies that will give players more freedom to access the games they want, and enable the delivery of next-generation experiences at scale.”

Back in 2017, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said there could come a time when yearly releases for series like Madden and FIFA are no longer necessary. They could be replaced by subscription services, and the use of streaming technology could theoretically enable someone to play their friends online without needing to purchase a console.

This isn’t set in stone, however, and those looking to buy games via the traditional route don’t have anything to worry about. In a financial earnings call earlier this month, Wilson stressed that the publisher will continue to sell games as stand-alone products for as long as consumers continue to purchase them that way. Its upcoming game releases include the first-person shooter Battlefield V and Anthem. Rather than release a full FIFA World Cup as it has in years past, EA is offering the content as a free update for FIFA 18 on May 29.

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