Electronic Arts announced Project Atlas last year as "a vision for a cloud-native gaming future." The goal isn't just a streamed gaming service, however: Very generally speaking, EA's plan is to use cloud-based services to enable deeper and more personalized games, and "eventually create a world full of user generated content—blurring the lines between the discrete domains of game engines and game services."
There was no indication at the time about when the project might actually come to life, but it's getting there. Chief technology officer Ken Moss said in a new post on Medium that EA is gearing up for an "external trial for our players to experience games streamed through EA’s cloud technology."
"Our goal with this exclusive trial is to gather more inputs at scale to test performance and quality of service in a variety of network conditions and on multiple server routing scenarios. While this particular trial will be focused on cloud gaming on PC, we are also working to understand performance across multiple other devices," Moss wrote. "Most importantly, we are here to learn how to improve and enhance the cloud gaming experience for our players."
The test is intended to dig into EA's ability to deliver "strong quality of service in cloud gaming" in real-world conditions that will often be less than ideal, across a range of different genres with differing gameplay requirements. To accomplish that, the trial will include four games—FIFA 19, Titanfall 2, Need for Speed Rivals, and Unravel—with cross-play (on supported devices) and cross-save enabled; cloud gaming testers will also be able to "engage with" players on Origin.
"Our pursuit of cloud gaming is rooted in our games and our players. We’ve said all along that we want to be where our players are. We fully believe in more choices for our players, and connecting them to a world of play across more platforms and geographies," Moss wrote. "Just as subscriptions can be an incredibly strong proposition for players to access great content with minimal friction, when combined with cloud streaming we can make it even more compelling to jump into new games and connect with new communities. We want to make sure that our games are able to perform beautifully and seamlessly in any situation and on any platform."
"The bottom line is this. Cloud gaming is coming. It’s no longer a question of if, but when. It’s still really early days but we’re excited to take this next step in our learning, and it’s great to be able to do it with some of you in our community. This is about enhancing the quality of our games and services for a cloud powered future. So if there is an opportunity to elevate the experience and inspire more people to play, we are going to explore it."
To take part in the Project Atlas test, log into your EA account (or sign up, if you don't already have one), then hit the "Community Playtesting" tab at the bottom of the sidebar menu. That will take you to a separate sign-in screen, through which you'll be able to access current and upcoming playtests. A start time hasn't been set.
Update: EA has clarified that inclusion in the test is not automatic: A limited number of testers will be selected from among the applicants.
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Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.