This story is part of CES, where CNET covers the latest news on the most incredible tech coming soon.
In advance of CES, Dell offered us a peek at its vision of what your home gaming experience may look like in the near future. The Alienware Concept Nyx inhabits a world where you can pause Fortnite or Guardians of the Galaxy in the living room and continue playing in your bedroom. Where you can launch your games from across storefronts like Steam or Epic and services like GeForce Now or Xbox Cloud Gaming, all aggregated within a single app that operates the same way on your TVs, phones, PCs and other devices. Where you can send a game session to your kid to get help with that final boss battle. And more.
Yes, many of those are technologically possible right now, but Alienware hopes Nyx will tie it all together with a lot more polish and a little less latency.
The prototype implementation we saw essentially combines a game server, which is more or less a game PC on steroids, a smart controller and software that ties them together. Notably absent is a console like the Xbox Series X or S, PS5 or Nintendo Switch, because that way lies a technologically complicated can of worms. Nor does Alienware want to displace a power gaming desktop or laptop, though games installed on the server might connect to a big screen directly.
The box itself would park near your modem or router, directly connected to it via Ethernet and broadcasting games that are either installed on it or streaming from the cloud to your devices over Wi-Fi. It’s intended to let members of a household play different games simultaneously (as well as multiplayer games together) without slowing your Wi-Fi or input lag to a crawl.
The prototype we saw was a monolithic, sharp-edged black tower that looked more like it came from Razer’s design team than Alienware’s. But if this server makes it past the drawing board you can bet it will look like one of the more organic Legend designs typical of all the Alienware gear.
The controller is key — almost literally. In Alienware’s ideation, it carries your logins, your game library, when and where you last left off and, in a perfect world, have proximity detection to pick up play seamlessly as you move from room to room.
Although eventually the goal is to work with third-party controllers, initially it’s likely to use Alienware’s own. What’s that you say? Alienware doesn’t have its own controller? Well, it’s been playing around with dramatic designs for one for a while, and we got to revisit the one that was part of the company’s fantasy gaming handheld from last year’s CES, Alienware Concept UFO.
That never materialized, though. Maybe this will, in some form or another.