With apologies to Tears for Fears, everybody wants to rule the living room. The latest game consoles act as voice-activated bridges between your gaming sessions and TV binging, with the Xbox One even letting you control your cable or satellite subscription. Rumors about Apple’s next-gen television-slash-gaming device have swirled for years. But right now, it’s Amazon’s turn—the company is rumored to be preparing its own media streamer to work with the Amazon Instant Video service, as well as streaming top-tier games to your TV, kind of like OnLive’s streaming game service for PCs.
As reported in TechCrunch, Amazon’s hardware will be an HDMI dongle, like the Chromecast and Roku Streaming Stick. And aside from it streaming video content from Amazon (GigaOm reports that it will offer Netflix and Hulu Plus streaming as well), the stick will be able to stream games with low enough latency that it feels like you’re playing them locally, even though the computer that’s actually running the game might be hundreds of miles away.
Amazon is in a unique position to be able to pull this off: The company already has server farms around the globe, powering its Amazon Web Services offerings; the company even advertises an Amazon AppStream service “that lets you stream resource-intensive applications and games from the cloud.” Now it looks like Amazon wants to use the same technology for a consumer product, rather than just acting as the hosting and middleware for developers. This would also explain the Amazon-branded wireless game controller recently uncovered by Dave Zatz.
Amazon hasn’t officially announced its streaming stick yet, but the timing seems right. Roku just released its new Streaming Stick, and Chromecast support is coming to more and more apps thanks to its recently released SDK.
Plus, Amazon just hiked the price of Amazon Prime to $99 a year, which includes free access to a ton of movies and TV shows on the Amazon Instant Video service. Customers can already get those movies and shows onto their TV by using the Amazon Instant Video channel on a Roku streamer, or by loading the content in your computer’s browser and mirroring it to an Apple TV or casting it to a Chromecast. But having its own streaming device could add value to the Amazon Prime service, especially if that bundle grows to include some game streaming. Amazon could even use the new hardware as another way for customers to consume other subscription services, like Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, which offers kid-friendly books, games, apps, and shows on Kindle Fire tablets.