Plex Blog

January 26, 2021

Game On: A Plex Blog Story

UPDATE: We’ve made the difficult decision to close the doors on Plex Arcade on March 31, 2022. After that date, the Plex Arcade service will no longer be usable with Plex. In anticipation of the pending closure, we’ve stopped accepting new Arcade subscriptions, and existing subscribers will no longer be charged. For our Arcade users, on behalf of everyone here at Plex Labs, we’d like to sincerely thank you for your support of this feature during its lifetime. It’s been a fun ride! Your collaboration and participation in our endeavors is what keeps us clocking in every day.

It should come as no surprise that we here at Plex are media lovers. Consummate curators of all that streamy goodness. Voracious imbibers at the fount of all content. Okay, gross, but you get the point. Anyway, every so often an armchair Reddit philosopher comes forth to question some basic truths: “What exactly is the nature of ‘Media’?” they ask. And “How can Plex help us media lovers more fully consummate our curationship?” Okay, sorry, gross again. But it’s a fair question, and one that deserves a little more attention.

Not to date ourselves, but quite a few of us are products of the ‘80s and ‘90s. And when we think about the media that shaped our childhoods and young adult lives, there was one thing that defined us and made it clear that even though we were weird, at the very least we weren’t weird alone. That’s right: stamp collections!

Oh wait. We meant VIDEO GAMES.

In the beginning…

The genesis of Plex saw us casting a disdainful eye over shelves of CDs, DVDs, and random files strewn over hard drives; we knew there had to be a better way to centrally organize and curate our media collections. A safe haven free from scratches and green markers. A place where we could Marie Kondo until every last poster and background was perfect, and then explore and play from anywhere in the world.

But there was one category left on that media shelf, gathering dust. It was the old plastic cartridges for our beloved gaming consoles of yore. After all, in the years since our youth, fellow curators have managed to amass rich archives of gorgeous metadata for games, and the retro gaming community truly does run deep. It’s a fantastic movement, and after some soul searching and spiritual walkabouts, the answer arrived: this media belongs inside Plex!

We’ve actually kicked the idea around for years, and given that over the last year we’ve been looking for new ways to entertain and distract ourselves, we decided to finally make it happen. And we gotta say, the results are super cool! It’s so fun to see a collection of ROMs rendered as a Plex library with all the power of filtering, searching, and beautiful details pages, but of course that’s only half the picture…

Let there be light!

Video and audio streaming have always been our specialty. We’re blessed with some amazing engineers (among the best in the world!) working on this, and in general we’ve been laser focused on making that experience better.

However, over time we’ve seen some truly impressive developments in interactive game streaming tech. Please allow us to introduce our new partner Parsec: With their underlying low-latency streaming technology, it was suddenly possible to offer fully playable game libraries within Plex.

Let the library teem with games

We’ve also partnered with the most hallowed name in retro games: Atari. With them on board as a partner we’re able to fully license a catalog of classic titles right out of the box. We’re talking Centipede. We’re talking Lunar Lander. We’re talking Motor Psycho!

On account of these partnerships and the licensing involved, Plex Arcade will be a separate subscription for per month if you have a Plex Pass (and per month if you haven’t made the leap to Plex Pass yet). Don’t know if you’ll like it? Try it free for 30 days (that’s a whole week among friends), no strings attached, and let us know what you think .

Be fruitful

Look. This effort is real, but if we’re honest it was conceived by a few passionate Plex Labs rats over scorpion bowls at Mama’s. For now, we’ve convinced the powers-that-be to let us run with it, but we know it’s far from done and we see it as a kind of internal Kickstarter-type project. If there’s interest and we see some subs, it’ll grow into the glorious pheasant we know it can be. But if you guys drop the ball, it’ll die on the vine like a stomped ass goomba.

There are a few limitations you should be aware of: For now, the server only works on Windows and macOS (sorry, Parsec doesn’t offer their libraries on Linux or other platforms currently, meaning it is not available for servers running on Linux, NAS devices, or NVIDIA SHIELD); and gameplay is restricted to Android (mobile and TV), iOS, tvOS, and the Chrome web browser.

To get started, grab the latest Plex Media Server, and create a new Games library, just like you would for any of your existing media types. We’re working on relaxing these limitations, but for now they’re real.



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