At CES 2022, Alienware has announced an experimental approach to game streaming called Concept Nyx.
Alienware imagines a house full of PC gamers competing for a single Wi-Fi connection, and possibly a limited number of rooms and screens. It’s not a problem facing most households today, but that doesn’t make Alienware’s solution any less interesting.
At its core, Concept Nyx is a server for your home that can stream games to any device. That means you have one large system in your house powering multiple game sessions at once. Alienware aims to power up to four independent games at the same time.
The model shown off at a Dell event ahead of CES 2022 was around the size of a large mini-fridge, a black obelisk with an Alienware logo plastered on it. But the hardware inside, which Dell refused to talk about, is hardly the point. The idea itself is what Alienware wants to preview — and its ambitions certainly caught my interest.
Dell’s scenario involved a makeshift living room, a gaming laptop, and a television. The demo started by playing some Cyberpunk 2077 on the gaming laptop on a nearby desk. Dell has designed its own proprietary software that brings in titles from various game stores, such as Steam and Epic Games.
The performance wasn’t perfect in the demo. There was some significant lag between the wireless controller and the gameplay, even more than you’d see in a cloud-based streaming platform like Game Pass. Setting that aside, the local game streaming was up and running everything happening on screen.
The neatest trick in the book, though, came when we moved to the television. Taking the same controller, we headed over to the couch and wirelessly moved the same game to a new setting. But someone else was already playing their own game of Rocket League on the couch. So, what does Concept Nyx do? It splits the screen right in half, seamlessly playing both games simultaneously.
That’s quite the party trick. From there, we could continue playing separately, or choose to drop games and combine. Within a few seconds, I’d closed out of Cyberpunk and joined in on Rocket League in full screen.
This shows the real potential of game streaming, especially when applied to a very specific scenario such as this. If games and game accounts were less tied down to specific hardware — or even specific systems — the more possibilities like Nyx can be.
The entire project, of course, is just an experiment. Dell has made it a tradition to bring experimental concepts to CES, whether it was the Alienware Concept UFO gaming handheld or something like the Concept Pari wireless webcam. But Concept Nyx feels even more like an experiment than those. The idea of people buying this likely expensive server to put in their living room seems like a decidedly old-school way to solve this problem. And most people, of course, would have no use for this much power.
While I wouldn’t expect it, it’s exciting to see companies like Alienware experiment with decoupled accounts, games, and systems from the concept of game streaming.