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a 100% local approach to cloud gaming

With its Concept Nyx, Dell wants to rethink the concept of cloud gaming by bringing all the necessary infrastructure directly to the consumer.

CES is fast approaching, and brands are therefore working extra hard to make our mouths water at the start of the year. This is the case with Dell, which continues to present its new products, including Nyx, a somewhat special cloud gaming platform that intends to revolutionize the way we handle our game library.

This one comes at the right time, because as everyone knows, the year 2021 has been a real disaster for hardware lovers. Many components, starting with graphics cards, bore the brunt of the semiconductor shortage and are now worth a small fortune. To remedy this situation, a growing number of players are now turning to cloud gaming platforms like GeForce Now.

But this technology is not yet ideal for all users. To benefit from it in the best conditions, it is necessary in particular to have access to an extremely robust internet connection, which probably implies being eligible for optical fiber. In addition, the games available and accessibility vary depending on the service and package chosen.

But Dell intends to blow these limits, or rather bypass them with its Concept Nyx. In principle, the technology is similar to that of cloud offers. It proposes to process the information in a decentralized manner on a machine specially designed for this purpose; then simply stream the video stream to enjoy the game on any device, including those that would be far from being able to run it with their own hardware. The big difference is at the level of the central unit which takes care of the processing. Usually this process takes place in a specialized center which handles the treatment for a large number of clients. The Nyx concept intends to reduce this architecture to the scale of the home, bringing together the host machine and the clients within the same local network.

Home-made cloud gaming

This would overcome some of the limitations of traditional cloud gaming, starting with the dependence on speed and latency. Thus, it would theoretically be possible to stream games on the local network with almost zero latency, to benefit from an experience comparable to that of a classic PC. A level of optimality that current cloud gaming is starting to get closer to, but that it has not yet quite reached.

Dell explains that its platform will allow “up to four games to be played simultaneously” so that the whole family can enjoy them at the same time. It will also be possible to change devices without interruption. Overall, Dell wants to make accessing our game library “as trivial as accessing your favorite music”.

On paper, this is indeed a very interesting concept. This could for example save a family from investing in several high-end machines which are simply overpriced at the moment. It could also be an interesting hub for a group with very different gaming habits. Nyx could also appeal to those who are simply looking to enjoy their game library with a minimum of material constraints.

The devices and solutions shown are concepts and are not available for sale. © Dell

A still very mysterious business model

However, there is still a whole bundle of unknowns which we still lack to correctly estimate the real added value of this concept. Because as it stands, Dell’s press release absolutely does not specify what physical form Nyx will take.

It could be a software-only solution; Nyx would then be subdivided into two parts. On the one hand, we would have a server side that would run on the CPU. On the other, a host application that would allow you to access it from any other device. This approach would offer great flexibility to the end user, who could then use a machine specially adapted for his use. And if performance is not enough, no need to subscribe to a higher offer; users who like to get their hands dirty can simply update their machine’s hardware.

However, this approach also has its share of drawbacks. For example, less comfortable users might encounter some difficulty setting up the system themselves. In addition, having to adapt to the endless number of possible – and potentially failing – configurations on the customer’s side sounds like a real headache from a product manager’s point of view.

The team in charge of Nyx could therefore opt for a diametrically opposed approach, of the turnkey type. This would then materialize by the sale or lease of a pre-assembled machine, why not with a personalized OS in order to optimize performance. This would make it much easier to manage the platform behind the scenes; Dell could thus offer a well-defined range, with different standardized formulas as we find in its traditional competitors. But then we would have to sacrifice the flexibility inherent in a more open business model.

Either way, Nyx is one of the concepts that will be very interesting to follow in the months to come. If the mayonnaise takes, the concept could well be emulated; this would then create real competition in this new segment of “home cloud gaming”, which is always beneficial for the development of this type of technology. Case to be continued!

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