Electronic Arts has announced a surprise beta for Project Atlas, the company's 'cloud-native' gaming infrastructure platform it announced last year.
Electronic Arts announced Project Atlas back in October 2018, with chief technology officer Ken Moss describing it as a 'cloud native' platform ' designed from the core to harness the massive power of cloud computing and artificial intelligence and putting it into the hands of game makers in a powerful, easy to use, one-stop experience.'
Unlike cloud-powered streaming services from Microsoft, Google, Sony, and others, Project Atlas claims to offer more than just playing existing games on lower-end hardware. The vision described by Moss at the time included 'dynamic social and cross-platform play' as well as 'deeper personalisation, and to eventually create a world full of user generated content — blurring the lines between the discrete domains of game engines and game services.' Promises were also made about deep integration with EA's Frostbite game engine, along with scalability that would allow 'thousands of players could compete on a single map hundreds or thousands of kilometres wide, in a game session that could last for days, weeks, or years and with the progression and persistence of realistic seasons and campaigns.'
Now, EA is ready to showcase what it's been working on through a closed beta programme. 'What exactly are we testing,' asks Moss in an announcement post. 'First, we want to ensure that there is strong quality of service in cloud gaming by being able to adjust to real-world, often less than ideal, conditions such as unstable bandwidth and network strength. Over the last decade, latency and jitter have made cloud gaming a non-starter for any serious gamer. But now that the global cloud infrastructure is finally reaching ubiquity, EA is working on leveraging AWS and the public cloud so that we can deploy as close to the players as possible, even in the face of unstable networks and changes in bandwidth. This player test will help us to better understand how our games perform across real-life scenarios.
'We’re also testing a wide breadth of games and genres to be able to better understand how the streaming technology performs across each. From the visual fidelity for games that are known for stunning graphics and demanding rendering, to the uncompromised precision and accuracy which are so critical to multiplayer FPS games — all of this must perform seamlessly. As part of the external trial, players will get hands-on with four HD games, including FIFA 19, Titanfall 2, Need for Speed Rivals, and Unravel. And, one of the most exciting parts of cloud gaming will be the ability to deliver full-scale HD games to any device a player wants to use, such as a smart TV, OTT streaming devices, PC or Mac laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This means that you would be able to stream a Madden HD game directly to the smart TV in your living room, or even in a hotel room if you’re travelling. You could even also continue same session on the go, right on your smartphone.'
The trial, Moss claims, will also include cross-play and cross-progression functionality, though it doesn't appear to include any of the engine-based multiplayer or user-generated content enhancements originally teased.
The closed beta, for which no launch date has yet been provided, will be made available to a group selected from the EA Community Playtesting programme; interested parties can sign up on the official website.
May 5 2021 | 09:30