tl;dr: Parties will be phased out and replaced with Arcade. When you want to play games with a friend or other members of the Parsec Community, Arcade is the way to go. When you’re looking to share your entire desktop or non-gaming applications with friends, use the computer sharing feature.
A new era starts today at Parsec. We’ve been radio silent in terms of updates, but that’s going to change. In the past 6 months, we privately introduced our game developer SDK, enabled large companies, like Samsung, to license our technology to power their game streaming products, launched the Parsec global Arcade in beta, and today, we’re ready to share a bit more about our new cross-platform user interface and Arcade. Our goal for Parsec is to build the world’s best game streaming application to make it so you can access your games from anywhere on any device and share the experiences you love with friends. We hope that Parsec is giving you the freedom to play games how and when you want without worrying about your hardware.
To improve upon the experience we’ve already built, we’re rolling out a new user interface that will allow our small team at Parsec to manage the user experience of playing games across as many devices as possible. To achieve that dream, we rebuilt Parsec from the ground up, removing our dependency on web frameworks and relying on a user interface that takes advantage of all of the native features of each device. The same technology that renders the video streamed through Parsec now renders the user interface you interact with when joining an Arcade game or connecting to your computer. This eliminates the need for the “Daemon” and UI layers in our architecture and combines them into one lean native application. This change will help us build better technology, but even more importantly, it enables us to make our dream to build the world’s Arcade a reality.
Game streaming built for playing together
Since the early days at Parsec, we’ve believed that increasing access to gaming comes from two experiences: one, connecting to your PC from anywhere on any device, and two, sharing your PC with your friends to play games together. Sharing your PC with your friends recreates the experience of inviting your friends over to play games on the couch. As the host of the gaming session, you’re giving your friends the gift of gaming while you hang out. This eventually led to the development of our Party system. When we introduced the Party Finder, we wanted to turn the private hangouts with your friends into parties where the host invites friends and strangers from all over the world to play games together. In the year since we launched Parties, we learned a lot and saw many ways that our approach could be improved. Our goal is to make Parsec the easiest way to play games with your friends, but the reality was that Parties needed a reboot to really deliver on that promise.
Introducing the Global Arcade
Our vision for Party Finder was to create the world’s largest, easiest, and most dynamic way to game online, and Arcade shares this goal. We’re building the global Arcade for every gamer to play any game online with friends and other members of the Parsec community. The technology choices behind the Arcade and the new user interface being released are helping us get closer to our goal of making this the easiest experience for playing games together. To be very transparent, Arcade is very much a work in progress, and we’ll share a lot more details about the technology choices and product vision in the future.
Arcade is built to be the way to play any game online with anyone. Only 8% of Steam games have online multiplayer built in, and if you want to play a game online on Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo, you need to pay a subscription to their online services. Today, approximately 110 million people (Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft financial disclosures) are paying approximately $60 per year to subscribe to those services. There are, however, 350 million gamers who bought a premium game in 2018. On top of that, there are 3 billion other gamers who either only play free-to-play or mobile-only games. With the Parsec Arcade, you can invite the rest of these gamers to play any of the 92% of games that don’t have online multiplayer with you.
The Arcade is simpler to use because of two novel improvements to our technology. The first change allows Parsec to isolate only the game instead of the entire desktop— this eliminates an audio echo and restricts the entire guest experience to the game window. Out of the gate, this works with most games released in the last couple of years automagically. As a caveat, though, we want to transparently share that there are many games that still require optimizations on our side, so we can support them in Arcade over the next few months. Second, game developers who want their game to have an online component with a community built-in can integrate the Arcade into their game through the Parsec SDK. As you can see in this video, adding the Arcade into a game creates a whole new interface for people playing your game and gives them the ability to invite friends and play public Arcade matches. With that, people playing your game can be your best marketing channel, sharing your game with others.
This will make for an even richer experience directly in the game with more input management, game specific features, and control over the guest experience.
Sharing your full desktop with a friend
With Parties going away, we know that there are some use cases that Parsec customers have that Arcade will not help with. We saw a lot of this behavior happening in private Parties, which were the vast majority of the usage of the product. In scenarios where you’d like to share your entire desktop with a friend, give a friend mouse control, or share your screen for non-gaming use cases, you can keep using the computer sharing feature, which is available on the new applications homepage.
Started from the bottom and still a long way to go
This is just the beginning for the Arcade and our new cross-platform application. Parsec will soon be available on more hardware and operating systems. Arcade will get significantly better with support for controller passing, guest management, better chat, an overlay, and more without the host or guest having to switch to a different screen running the Parsec user interface.