When you play a game, how do you play it? Monopoly or settlers from Catan at the dinner table? Mario Kart on your Nintendo Switch? Assassin’s Creed on your Xbox? Among us on your phone? Usually they are games with a physical form, a console or an app. Artie is gearing up to shake up the gaming industry with yet another option and bring high-end gaming back to the browser. The benefits are obvious: no apps to download, and you can jump straight into a game via a link in bio, whether it’s from TikTok, Instagram, or, well, wherever you can find links. Also: Bypassing the apps means Apple doesn’t pay the finder fee for in-app purchases for transactions.
“We realized that with 5G, device maturity, and GPUs that we can access through the browser, you no longer really need to download a game to run a quality game,” said Ryan Horrigan, Artie co-founder and CEO. in an interview with TechCrunch. “We thought, is there a way to do something that’s not purely client-side…is there a way to take Unreal or Unity and do some kind of elegant asset streaming and optimization where we’re streaming data from the page? Cloud, but we render locally on your device?”
Yes, there is a way, it turns out, and that’s the market Artie is jumping into. The company refers to it as “over-the-top game streaming.”
“The idea is that I’m on my TikTok feed, where I see an influencer or an ad, and I click on a link. I immediately play the game in the pop-up browser and on TikTok, but then I have two options,” says Horrigan. “I can either follow the game there and come back (much like Farmville did back then and Facebook) and go back to social to play, or I can save a bookmark or progressive web app to my phone screen and have a mock app at my fingertips .”
Being a progressive web app, it is indistinguishable from an app, but has the advantage of being discoverable in many ways, particularly via social media, and not requiring download. TikTok and Instagram are now the equivalent of an old-fashioned arcade.
“I used to play in the arcade when I was a kid,” says Horrigan. “What if the modern arcade is just TikTok or Instagram? We said we’re trying to build the gaming console of the future on social media, which is maybe a strange statement. But if you think about it, a console was hardware. More recently, it’s been software, like Steam on PC or the Epic Game Store. But there’s not really the equivalent of those on mobile because there wasn’t a point of entry to reach players.”
Reaching gamers through social media, bypassing app stores and rendering on the client side makes sense for both gamers and developers, Artie believes. Without having to pay app store fees or cloud rendering costs, it offers developers the financial opportunity to create new games that appeal to different markets.
“We can afford to have different sized audiences,” says Horrigan. He’s right, and if that means a wider range of games available to a wider audience without the friction apps (and in-app purchases) enhancing the experience, that may prove to be an all-round win.