Sega is working on a system that would turn Japanese arcades into small data centers. According to the latest issue of Weekly Famitsu, Sega is currently researching and developing an exclusive new arcade-based streaming tech for Japan called “Fog Gaming.”

The name Fog Gaming comes from fog computing, and the concept uses the arcade infrastructure in Japan. Arcade games use servers that are then connected to the cloud. Fog Gaming will harness those servers in arcades, as well as cloud servers.

While it’s not exactly clear what that is–or if it’s comparable to cloud gaming services like Google Stadia–according to analyst Serkan Toto, it will likely involve using the guts of arcade machines during off-hours.

It’s not entirely clear whether Japanese players would be able to stream games directly from arcade machines. Famitsu suggests fog gaming would add minimal lag (less than 1 ms) on top of regular network latency, which could make that tenable, especially for quick-reflex titles, such as fighting games.

Installing a large number of servers throughout Japan is a major business hurdle, Famitsu points out. However, Sega’s arcade games already use powerful CPUs and GPUs. The games are all connected to servers in the game centers, which are then connected to cloud servers. Sega has around 200 arcades in Japan. The basic infrastructure is there right now. (Source)

When people would log into Fog Gaming at home, they would connect to the same cloud servers that the arcades use, being automatically auto-assigned to the nearest server. However, players would get the images and the sound from the servers in the arcade connected to that game’s cabinets. This is why the platform is called Fog Gaming, as it’s utilizing the servers in the actual arcades. But since Fog Gaming also connects to the closest cloud server that arcade games use, this would make for low-lag gaming experience and would make it possible to reduce that lag to under a millisecond.

One of the merits of this system is that it efficiently uses the arcade computing power. Now, when arcade games aren’t being played or the game centers are closed for the day, that power is idle. In a COVID-19 world, where arcades have been hit especially hard, Fog Gaming could help breathe new life into the arcade industry, developing an entirely new business model. (Source)

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