Gaming isn’t necessarily desired for the latest and best hardware because of the advent of cloud gaming. However, there remain a slew of issues coupled with ease of access, including unstable Wi-Fi connections, which result in a litany of performance and latency issues. Alienware is hoping to change that, while also solving one of the most hard problems in PC gaming: how to make sure that players can easily access and play their entire game library on any device.
Enter “Concept NYX”, one of many prototypes and concepts from Alienware parent Dell shown off at CES 2022. In the run-up to the Las Vegas conference, Alienware’s bold attempt to harness the power of edge computing for high-performance game processing on the fly.
A Stream for Every Screen
We started by loading up Cyberpunk 2077 on one computer screen and Rocket League on another screen across the room in our small demo of Concept NYX. When we had a seat on the couch, the concept started to make sense: both games were being streamed locally, directly from the nearby streaming system (which closely resembled a larger computer tower, complete with RGB lighting). The Alienware reps blended both games onto the massive TV in front of us through a phone app, pulling the games off their separate devices across the room and onto the same screen. This provided two of us to show both games on one TV, independently of one another, side by side.
The screen switching would ideally be place in each device’s menus or through a controller button if Concept NYX ever made it to market as a complete product. The representatives needed to manually swap which game was being shoved to which screen with the phone app as a prototype, which wasn’t without its glitches. That’s understandable for a concept.
Concept NYX’s core goal is to make access to your game catalog as simple as it is to access music or movies, and it is pulled from a central library of all of your games regardless of where you purchased them. The concept’s rudimentary user interface is similar to that of the GOG Galaxy 2.0, with an app loaded on each client device that allows you to stream your library of games to that device. Concept NYX is not just a computer or an app, but rather a complete ecosystem. It’s the PC’s tower and UI, as well as the controllers and device screens around your home, all of which act in tandem to bring your games anywhere in your home.
Push Me to the Edge
Edge computing is the key to getting this all feasible. Concept NYX wants to slash the distance between servers in half by placing the information in your living room rather than having to communicate with remote servers, which is how cloud streaming works. Because processing is performed locally (via the large, ominous PC tower Alienware was using for this demo), it would eliminate latency, provision more bandwidth, and overall be a more responsive experience.
Concept NYX is predicted to pull in not only hardcore gamers, but also casual gamers, particularly those with massive families, thanks to its unique appeal. We were only able to stream Rocket League and Cyberpunk 2077 at the same time in our demo, but Alienware is exploring with powering up to four game streams at the time.
In theory, you can come together with friends on the couch and play a split-screen game, use your corner of the screen to play something completely different, or just watch someone else’s stream, as you would on Twitch. The idea goes that if you aren’t interested in gaming on the same display, you’d only require one PC so everyone can play games in separate locations throughout the house.
You might think that streaming that many games at the same time would take a lot of horsepower, and you’re correct. Dell didn’t mention exactly what specs this closed system is, but it’s clear that serious computing power is critical for getting the NYX concept a reality. We guess it needed to have been packing some major high-end hardware, possibly multiple GPUs, at the time, so it’s worth mentioning. However, we can’t picture it being available for free.
The question of whether Concept NYX is economically viable (or whether it will even perform as expected performance-wise) continues to be solved. Dell’s effort to provide a localized version of the ability to stream your favorite titles, however, is promising, with interest in cloud streaming on the rise thanks to the likes of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna.