Why there may never be a Netflix of videogames ?


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In the small conference room of a Palo Alto, Calif. office Asher Kagan explains a smartphone-sized gadget his company hacked together that seeks to better understand the blockade between him and a service the world has long imagined.

The vision for that service, cloud gaming, resembles Netflix Inc. NFLX, -5.16% which dispensed with DVDs and cable bundles in favor of streaming content from a faraway data center. Done right, cloud gaming could make powerful, expensive gaming computers and even widely popular consoles into garage-sale relics and irrelevant to the billion-plus people who play videogames world-wide.

All they would need is a screen and the internet.

“What what we’re shooting for is a premium gaming experience, we’re shooting for something that is awesome to play the best games in the industry on any screen in your life,” said Electronic Arts Inc. EA, -3.36%  Chief Technology Officer Ken Moss. “We want to do that because we want to give players the opportunity and the choice to play however they want.”

It is a dream of many videogame fans and companies, that see the huge gains Netflix has made against traditional media companies and hope to do the same in a similar arena. Years into many parallel efforts, though, there are obstacles that may be impossible to solve.

That pocket-size gadget Kagan’s team at the cloud-gaming startup Blade hacked together measures the delay between a player pressing a button in a videogame and the time it takes for a cloud-based machine to process each action and send graphics and sound back. That delay is called latency, and it is the biggest technical challenge standing in the way of making something that could accurately be described as the Netflix for games.

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