Remember EA’s cloud game-streaming service it announced last year in October? Well, more than a year later and now up against a major new competitor in the form of Google Stadia, EA’s Project Atlas is finally ready to be play-tested.
EA’s Chief Technology Officer Ken Moss made the announcement on Medium, that the service would be opening up on September 9 to players who signed up ahead of time, and outlined some key details about the service’s ambitions and planned titles.
“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,” Moss said in the post. “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.”
To that end, should you get an invitation to the test, you can expect to see four very different kinds of games on the nascent service including FIFA 19, Need for Speed Rivals, Titanfall 2 and Unravel. It doesn’t appear as though gamers will need to own those games to play them on Project Atlas in its current form, but that's no guarantee those games will remain free once the service eventually goes live.
The good news is that part of the test includes the ability to cross-save between different versions of the game once the service ends, so you can port over your project and will also enable cross play between different versions while the trial is going on as well.
Everyone has their eyes on Stadia
That being said, it’s hard to talk about any game-streaming service this year without comparing it to Google Stadia, which is due to arrive in November of this year and will almost certainly pose a threat to EA's Project Atlas.
That's because, from the looks of things, EA wants to be a major player in the burgeoning cloud game-streaming market, despite being further behind than PlayStation Now, Google Stadia and even Microsoft’s Project xCloud, which began its public technical testing phase during E3 2019.
In terms of technology, EA is promising some of the same things the other services are in terms of cross play and cross saving, but could face technical challenges due to the fact that it’s the smallest publisher trying game-streaming. That’s also not mentioning the fact that Project Atlas will use Amazon Web Services (AWS) rather than a bespoke hardware/software solution like Google and Microsoft, both of whom will use their own cloud services and server infrastructure.
How much any of that impacts real-world gameplay remains to be seen – but we’ll know more after gamers start using the service this week.
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Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.