Freeview boxes are about to become the next frontier for gaming: in a significant step for home entertainment, French companies Netgem and Gamestream have partnered to integrate TV streaming and cloud gaming directly onto Netgem’s Freeview boxes.
This development, announced today, seeks to transform the entertainment experience for households across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
As cloud gaming gains momentum, its introduction to the Freeview box ecosystem is a meaningful stride towards making high-quality gaming more accessible.
The alliance between Netgem and Gamestream is set to enhance the versatility of the company’s Freeview (and Android) boxes, extending their reach beyond traditional TV viewing into the realm of interactive gaming, in a field that Sony, Microsoft and Amazon currently dominate.
Cloud Gaming Explained
Cloud gaming, often hailed as the future of video game consumption (though some still beg to differ), is a technology that transforms the way we play.
Traditionally, to run high-quality games, players needed powerful hardware, like an advanced gaming console or a high-end PC. But with cloud gaming, that paradigm changes significantly.
Essentially, cloud gaming is like Netflix for video games.
It works by running the game on powerful servers in data centres and then streaming the video of the game to the player’s device, much like how a movie is streamed to your TV or computer.
The players’ inputs (button presses, mouse clicks, etc.) are sent back to the server in real time.
This technology allows users to play the latest games on almost any device that has a solid internet connection – a TV, PC, a smartphone – or, in this case, a Freeview / Streaming box.
The heavy processing happens in the cloud, not on the device, removing the need for expensive hardware. It’s a revolution in gaming accessibility and flexibility.
Several major companies have already dipped their toes in the cloud gaming pool – including Sony (with Playstation) and Microsoft (XBOX) – as well as Amazon, with its Amazon Luna cloud gaming service.
Netgem Brings Cloud Gaming To Its Boxes
Netgem’s 4K Freeview box
Users can also use it to sign up for additional premium channels and enjoy a host of free ad-supported channels.
This flexibility has seen the company evolve, focusing on broadband providers to use Netgem as their “TV Offer”.
This approach was exemplified when Netgem partnered with TalkTalk in 2021, establishing itself as one of the budget broadband provider’s key TV offers.
Gamestream, on the other hand, has carved out a niche for itself in the realm of cloud gaming.
They offer telecom operators their high-performance, low-latency streaming technology alongside a vast selection of popular video games such as HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED™, Garfield Lasagna Party, and Overcooked! 2.
The new partnership between the two companies will seamlessly integrate gaming with TV streaming, on Netgem’s Freeview and Android boxes.
The proposed service aims to transform TV and mobile into a family-oriented interactive entertainment hub, offering multiplayer capabilities and fostering fan communities.
This fusion of TV and gaming is expected to reach a potential market of over 100 million TV subscribers of telecom operators across EMEA.
Users will have access to a catalogue of hundreds of popular games, intended for a family audience, with new additions slated each month.
Netgem VS Amazon Luna
As we draw comparisons to established services, it’s interesting to contrast the new Netgem offering with Amazon’s Luna.
Luna, Amazon’s cloud gaming service, has been making waves in the US and recently launched in the UK.
It provides console-quality games via streaming and operates on a variety of devices, such as PCs, smartphones, and Amazon’s Fire TV.
Luna offers different pricing tiers based on the desired gaming library’s size, while the proposed Netgem service is expected to offer an extensive game catalogue to all its subscribers as part of the service package – although exact pricing isn’t known yet, and may change between different ISP bundles.
Unlike Luna, which focuses mainly on gaming, Netgem and Gamestream’s service will offer innovative cross-content recommendations, allowing users to switch effortlessly between video content and gaming (though of course, if you use Luna on a Fire TV – then Amazon’s TV ecosystem is just a click away).
Where Can I Get Netgem’s Gaming Platform?
Netgem confirmed to us that the new gaming service would be compatible with existing Netgem boxes (including standalone ones bought by customers directly), meaning users won’t require additional hardware.
Gamepads, which are necessary for gaming, can be bought for as little as £10. Some ISPs might even offer gamepads with a first subscription, though this would be at their discretion.
The gaming service will work on all of Netgem’s 4K boxes, including its Android TV boxes (that are offered in some countries), as well as any iOS or Android device.
This approach ensures that the new proposition is accessible and versatile, as no new hardware is required to enjoy it.
However, the service isn’t available to customers just yet – it remains to be seen which (if any) UK Internet Service Providers will choose to add it to their offers.
Mathias Hautefort, CEO of the Netgem Group, said: “The young generation is looking for new TV experiences.
“This is a strategic problem for Content channels and operators who have invested considerable sums in the creation of TV subscriber bases and invested in boxes sitting in customers homes.
With this new proposition, precursing a more immersive television experience, we will contribute to making ‘TV watching’ a place of sharing again, and supporting entertainment for the whole family.
“We look forward to presenting this cross-content approach to our telecom operator customers, as well as the very demanding media industry and we aim to deploy shortly in new territories”.