June 30, 2022

Over The Limit Entertainment

Top Stories, World News, Daily News Updates

Antstream Arcade and Jam.gg: Creating New Experiences from Old Games

9 min read

Antstream Arcade Website

Retro games aren’t just for old people (pic: Antstream Arcade)

Streaming services like Antstream Arcade and Jam.gg may work in retro games but their new social gaming experiences are too modern.

An interesting trend has hit the games industry in recent years: retro games have hit the headlines and are back in the limelight, finding a new constituency among young gamers, not just those in the know. Acting as a source of nostalgia for those who remember them for the first time. Round. But the pixelated renaissance doesn’t stop there, with two modern streaming game companies capitalizing on the rekindled love for retro classics to promote fresh new forms of social gaming.

one of them, british dress Antstream Arcade has been a leader in bringing retro games to the masses, and we spoke to CEO Steve Kottum to catch up on the streaming service’s latest new feature. We also interviewed Benjamin Divien, CEO of Jam.gg, the French streaming service that is using retro games as Trojan horses to generate new social gaming experiences via web browsers.

Steve Kottum of Antstream Arcade began by revealing, ‘It’s been an incredibly busy year.’ He proudly points out that the Antstream app is now downloaded by more than 3.5 million people worldwide, and that Antstream has now licensed over 3,000 retro games – more than 1,300 of which are currently live on the platform. “There are still those elusive 150,000 retro games we want to bring to the platform,” Kottam admitted, but there’s no doubt that Antstream is already a haven for retro game enthusiasts.

Kottum is excited about Antstream’s efforts to make available the best fruits of the ’80s arcade scene to its users, having landed another famous Japanese shooter: ‘One of those games we just added, and its 35th In time for the anniversary, is the R-Type; R-Type 1 and R-Type 2. And with that, we have brought in other Irem games.’

Japanese developer Irem was a major player since the arcade’s early days, and its 1984 title Kung-Fu Master – now also available to play on Antstream – was the first to beat ’em-up. Kottam says: ‘It took five years to sign that deal, talking to those people. This shows that these companies see the value of what we are doing.

Kottum highlights another sure sign that the retro scene is enjoying a golden period right now: ‘One of the biggest things we’ve done this year is add support for indie developers. There are a lot of indie developers out there building these amazing games based on the original hardware – like Flea on the NES and Tanglewood on the Mega Drive. We’re supporting indie developers whenever we can, and they’re banging hard on our doors to bring you games.’

Antstream started out as a subscription service, but really took off when it became free, supported in the form of ‘gems’ with a system of micro-transactions that were used to bypass user restrictions and modify specific gameplay modes. You can buy to enable. But since it now has a healthy constituency of users, Kottam explains they are rolling back subscriptions as an option: ‘We’re launching our premium version at £39.99 for a one-year subscription. It gives you access to all the content, unlimited challenges: everything is unlocked, saves as many games as you want.’

Act quickly, however, and you can subscribe for half. “To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the R-Type, we are promoting over the summer where, between now and mid-June, people can get the Antstream for £19.99 for a full year,” says Kottam. ‘Compare that to how many games you’ll find on a Nintendo Switch Premium subscription, and we’ve got 10 times that amount, plus new content and extra features that Nintendo doesn’t have.

Perhaps the biggest justification for splitting up on Antstream’s subscription isn’t its large catalog of arcade classics, but the way Antstream has used those games to promote modern styles of social play. The company faces many competitive challenges, which bring various tangible rewards. For example, a current challenge invites the Antstream community to score as many points as possible in asteroids with only one life.

Kottam gives a more detailed example: ‘We did the one with Pac-Man where we cleared all the dots in the maze and left only four dots on the screen, and you had to run around and dodge the ghosts; If you hit a point, that was it – game over. Or we added power pills but when you ate the power pill, instead of giving you a boost, it reversed your control.’

On top of that, Antstream has added a new type of drama called the Giant Slayer. With Giant Slayer, you try to get the best possible score, and when you think you’ve got a score that no one can beat, you submit it, at which point the whole community will see it. , and could try to take you down. You then need a certain percentage of the community to beat your score in order to beat them,’ Kottam says. The end result is an interesting form of collective participation, which goes far beyond what was possible in the original arcades and their very different social experience.

Old games can always be played in new ways (pic: Antstream Arcade)

The way Antstream is working to promote the social side of retro gaming takes into account another, more nascent game-streaming service based in France called jam.gg, Until recently known as PiePacker, Jam.gg, as its co-founder and CEO Benjamin Divien explains, initially began as a technology practice.

‘I live in the south-west of France, and we have great wine but very bad internet. I thought there was an opportunity that was similar to the story of Nintendo and the Game Boy, with Sega trying to fight the Game Gear over accessibility. The Game Gear was arguably the better console, but it was a lot more expensive and ate up a lot of battery. The Game Boy’s design was very simple – the screen was terrible, it had bad sound, but it was cheap, and you didn’t need a lot of battery. Retrospectively, accessibility won over technology.’

So with an eye to markets in less developed countries, with poor broadband infrastructure, Davien and Jam.gg built, in their own words, ‘a super-accessible cloud-gaming system that would have required the very basics. Have: A web browser, basic internet, and friends. You are going to play video games directly from the web browser, there is no barrier. Any game on our platform is just a few clicks away.

Populating Jam.gg with various retro games, Devienne and her team were in for a shock when they distributed screen capture software to their users to see how they were playing: ‘We were very surprised, because they Didn’t understand how to use it. Product: Either we had a very bad idea, or they were too dumb – both situations were bad for us.’

‘They were using Jam.gg on one side of the screen, and spending most of their attention on Google Meet or Zoom, they were basically hanging out with their friends and using the game as an excuse to socialize Was doing. We found it very appealing, and decided to take it further and integrate video chat and social features.’

Jam.gg website

Retro gaming doesn’t cost the earth (Photo: Jam.gg)

The end result is that, in its current form, if you go to Jam.gg, you can open a room, generate a chat avatar for yourself, choose a game – mainly from the retro roster. , which is much smaller than Antstream – to play in that room, then invite your friends to come over and play it privately with you. Or you can find people to play (and socialize) in its public spaces, either by choosing a game you like or by searching for your gaming mood

‘For some games, I don’t want to talk to the other person; I just want to play competitively, to do well in the game. Or maybe I want to be social, and play is just as an excuse to interact, so I can choose by mood as well, and we see people use that a lot,’ explains Davienne.

Having built an ultra-flexible and low-bandwidth social gaming platform, Jam.gg and Devienne have high ambitions for the future. Jam.gg already has a feature that will excite retro-heads, the ability to import ROMs of retro games that users have legitimately purchased. For that, Jam.gg had to check to make sure they were acquired legally. “A lot of legal work went into it,” admits Davienne.

Devienne also wants to take Jam.gg beyond its current retro focus, and in particular into the area of ​​modern couch co-op games. “Our first direction will be to think about the content and expand Couch Co-op to more games.” For us this is a very important step in our strategy: to make sure we can have games like Overcooked, Moving Out and Blazing Chrome. We already have deals in place with some of these licenses and are moving forward to expand the catalog.

‘For some of these games that are being sold on Steam or other platforms for $15, $30 or $60, it’s really hard to persuade third party developers to license them to us and make them available for free. Is. So as long as we keep the free tier, and most premium games available for free, we will offer some games through the Marketplace.

Jam.gg hasn’t been around for long but it’s already popular (Photo: Jam.gg)

Divien also has a vision that will see the kind of public engagement Antstream pioneered on Jam.gg, an idea that emerged when she worked at Twitch. ‘Something I found very appealing was Twitch play Pokémon. He ran a game on Twitch and instead of just one person controlling the Game Boy, it was the entire spectator controlling the character – A, B, Up Down, Left Right; Every few seconds, people voted for the move.

‘He really perfected the game, and it was such a great social experience. To date, this is the biggest stream ever on Twitch. I wanted to do something similar.

So he did: creating a Bomberman-style game called Arsene Bomber, with a flying saucer-like object that can be controlled by Twitch viewers, premiered at the Gamers Without Borders charity event, which was hosted by several famous Twitch streamers. was played by. spectators, who could use the flying saucer to drop bombs or power-ups.

“We said we needed to apply this technology to all the games on the catalog, and make it a new tool for streamers to make money. So imagine – and this is something we’re releasing in a few weeks – a game like Street Fighter being played by a streamer, and the streamer uses Jam.gg and it’s broadcast on Twitch via our system. does,’ says DeVene.

“Streamers can challenge any of the viewers, for money – on the show, live on Twitch. So I can pay three, four, five dollars to fight a few rounds against my favorite internet celebrity.

‘Or take a game like Zelda: With the system we’ve implemented for money, you can add items to the inventory of the person you’re playing, add enemies on the screen, or remove a button from the control system If, say, you can significantly affect the course of the game. And it’s going to apply – it’s actually applicable right now – to all the games in our catalog, including the modern games to come.’

Thanks to the likes of Antstream Arcade and Jam.gg, the post-modern taste for retro gaming is leading to entirely new collective participatory social gaming experiences. So, if you like gaming to be sociable, it might be time to go retro.

Email [email protected], leave a comment below, and Follow us on Twitter,

MORE : Embracer Group wants to buy your vintage retro games for its new Preservation collection

MORE : PS Plus to add trophies to premium retro PlayStation games

MORE : Antstream Arcade – Free Retro Gaming From a British Perspective

Follow Metro Gaming Twitter and email us at [email protected]

For more stories like this, check out our gaming page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.