Chinese giant technology Tencent has started testing its own cloud gaming platform and is allowing a select group of users to sign up, as its opponents race to get ahead in the next big trend in the $135 billion video game market.
Cloud gaming enables users to stream games instead of having to download them on smartphones or consoles, or purchase physical copies.
Tencent lately introduced a website for a product called “Start” and is enabling people in Shanghai and the southern China region of Guangdong to sign up for the test.
The description on the website it was written in Mandarin, translates as “you can play on any device.” One of the advantages of cloud gaming is that it doesn’t require particular hardware such as a games console.
"Cloud gaming is an emerging trend, and given our technical capabilities and rich portfolio of games, we are doing some internal research to evaluate the possibilities," a spokesman for the company told a news agency.
In March, business analysts Daniel Ahmad tweeted that Tencent would introduce a cloud gaming service called “Tencent Instant Play.”
Tencent Instant Play is collaboration between the Chinese gaming and Intel, which tweeted days later to confirm the existence of the new cloud service which allows you play games anywhere, anytime, on nearly any device.
At a business event called the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco a month ago, Tencent appeared to have some demonstrations of Instant Play, according to Chinese industry website Game Look.
However, it's uncertain whether Start is the rebranded version of Instant Play or whether they are two separate products. Tencent refused to comment when contacted by a news agency.
Intel pointed to a previous comment made by Kim Pallister, the firm's chief technology officer of gaming, VR and e-sports.
"While we can't comment on Tencent's work in the space, we're excited to collaborate with them," Pallister told trade magazine Variety in February. "At Intel, we're focused on leading and innovating in both server and client platform computing solutions. We are enthused about the development of cloud gaming offerings that companies are bringing to market."
"We believe the increased flexibility and innovation in this space will allow the gaming market to grow and reach new gamers, offer games in new ways, and enable entirely new types of gaming over time," he said.
While Tencent has stayed tight-lipped about its future, it seems that cloud gaming is on the horizon for the Chinese firm.
Tencent has many benefits. It's the largest games business in China, has its own cloud substructure and has the privileges to license some of the nation's largest gaming titles.
"Tencent cannot afford to sit on the sidelines while all big tech companies in the world invest in cloud gaming," Serkan Toto, CEO of Tokyo-based game industry consultancy Kantan Games, told CNBC. "Tencent has the big advantage that it has access to China, the world's biggest gaming market."
He added that another benefit for Tencent is that "in contrast to Amazon or Google, for instance, the firm is a game developer itself and will be able to create content exclusively available through their future cloud service via its studios, which have a track record of releasing mega hits."
However, Toto said Tencent may not find much success globally, where other game companies have a bigger presence.
"I currently cannot picture any scenario where Tencent could be successful on a global level. I think in the West, Western or Japanese cloud gaming providers will dominate in the end," Toto said.