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Bethesda’s Orion Promises to Optimize Cloud Gaming: Here’s How

LOS ANGELES, CA - We were all expecting games from Bethesda. But the revered game publisher/developer threw the industry for a loop with its Orion announcement. During the company’s E3 2019 press conference, it unveiled its Orion technology, which it promised could optimize cloud gaming making it cheaper for both developers and consumers alike. Here’s everything we know so far about this exciting new tech.

Not just another cloud gaming service

When you hear the words “cloud gaming,” your thoughts probably go to older services like OnLive or the newer entries Nvidia GeForce Now, Shadow and of course Google Stadia and the newly announced Xbox Project xCloud. However, Orion isn’t just another streaming service. Instead of trying to jump into what’s becoming an increasingly crowded market, the company is looking to improve what’s already there. So it’s a complementary tech rather than competitive.

How does it work?

Orion’s goal is to optimize game streaming, improving network speed and latency. Most cloud gaming services attempt to tackle the problems of bandwidth speeds and lag creating data centers housing a myriad of servers to accommodate gamers. Bethesda has eschewed the hardware route, instead focusing on software using patented technologies to optimize frame rendering and compression rate claiming an estimated 20 percent on the former and 40 percent on the latter.

MORE: Bethesda E3 News: Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein and More

What does it mean?

A more efficient means of streaming pays off for both content creators and consumers. Developers can stream content for a lower cost thanks to the optimized compression and frame rendering. That passes along the savings to the average consumer who won’t necessarily need as much data to stream. That’s potentially great news for anyone working within a hard internet data cap.

It also means that high-latency, the ever-lurking boogieman of cloud gaming, is potentially cut off at the knees. With significantly optimized frame rendering, latency is also greatly reduced. In fact, Bethesda is claiming that you’ll have the ability to stream your game onto any platform at the highest settings. To drive home this point, the company streamed Doom (2016) in 4K at 60 frames per second on stage on what appeared to be an iPhone XS Max and there didn’t seem to be a bit of lag. But it’s one thing to stream in the controlled environment of a press conference and quite another to do it at home with spotty internet.

And before any of these Orion-optimized realities can take place, developers will have to enable the technology. So it’ll take an industry-wide push to bring Orion to the masses in any significant way.

How can I play?

If you want to take Orion for a test drive, you can sign up for the beta at the Doom Slayers club which will be running a public beta trial sometime this year. Unfortunately, the first trial is limited to devices running iOS11 and higher. However, Android and PC runs are coming later down the road.

Be sure to follow our E3 2019 news hub all week long for the biggest reveals and impressions out of Los Angeles.

Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.