Image: sony santa monica studio
We're fast approaching the moment when expensive hardware will no longer be the deciding factor in which video games you can and can't play. And it looks like Verizon wants to be one of the first contenders aiming to disrupt an entrenched market.
Leaked emails and images indicate that the company has reached the alpha testing stage for a new service called Verizon Gaming. The Netflix-style interface would allow users to select the tile for the game they want and start playing, based on what we've seen.
The report comes from The Verge, which confirms via leaked materials that the service is already up and running (for participating testers) on the Nvidia Shield set-top box. Additional documentation suggests that one goal is to bring Verizon Gaming to Android smartphones.
The testing program features 135 games, including a number of surprising titles. The screenshots show PlayStation exclusives like God of War, Detroit: Become Human, and Knack, unreleased games like Metro: Exodus and Anthem, and even Rockstar's 2018 hit Red Dead Redemption II, which was only released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
That's not to say all of these games are available for testers right now; just that the leaked images show tiles for each of them. It's entirely possible that the finished version of Verizon Gaming features a slimmed down lineup; an email sent to testers even suggests as much, noting that the alpha test is focused on gauging the service's performance.
"At a later date, when we advance the product, our library will consist of most or all of the top games you are familiar with — but at this early stage we’re working on the engine and its parts," the email read.
It's possible that Verizon's work on this service is tied to the looming rollout of 5G, the next evolution in wireless data networks. The arrival of 5G means faster speeds all around — for mobile users on the go and broadband users at home both. Crucially, 5G also transmits data very quickly — you might hear this termed as "low latency connections" — which should make it perform much better than current options when it comes to streaming games.
Verizon is hardly the first major interest to signal an interest in a streaming games service, but the company's arrival suggests a breakthrough moment could be coming soon.
Microsoft, Google, Nvidia and Amazon are all known to be testing streaming services of their own, but Verizon has traditionally existed outside the gaming space. The company's apparent venture into uncharted territory now suggests a level of confidence in the technology that hasn't been evident before.
Since this is all technically unconfirmed, that's all anyone knows at this point. But stay tuned; it's clear that Verizon is planning some kind of big-time streaming games service, and the fact that it's in alpha testing now means we could be hearing more sooner than you think.