Highscore is a cloud gaming service coming soon – Founder Q&A

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Highscore is an upcoming cloud gaming service expected to launch soon (see below). It is a BYOG (bring your own game) type service that aims to let you play any PC game you own in the cloud including your entire Steam library!

Highscore is also touting some amazing specs – streaming up to 4K:120 FPS and unique cloud features including virtual couch multiplayer (similar to Luna couch) and suspend/resume in the cloud – something no other service offers!

You can sign up for the wait-list to be one of the first to play when Highscore servers go live.

We had the chance to interview Ian Bateman, founder and CEO at Highscore. Hope you enjoy this back and forth discussion about the upcoming service.

Can you please introduce the service ad yourself for our readers?

Hey everyone! 👋 I’m Ian – Co-founder & CEO here at Highscore. I’m an experienced engineer and startup operator residing in San Francisco, CA. A bit about what we’re working on: At Highscore, we’re building the world’s most comprehensive cloud gaming platform. Highscore.com, along with our native + mobile apps, allows you to stream over 100,000 games to almost any device you own, at a high frame-rate and resolution. Long-term, our goal at Highscore is to allow you to play any PC game, on any device, anywhere.

I think that cloud gaming is primed to explode over the next couple of years. We’re only now reaching a point where a cloud gaming service can both reach a big enough portion of the population and make economic sense. Even 3 or 4 years ago, it really wasn’t feasible. Offering a compelling cloud gaming solution still requires some pretty specialized hardware & software that isn’t just available off-the-shelf.

While some of the predecessor services (Gaikai, OnLive, LiquidSky, Stadia —really, even xCloud & GFN) have done / are doing a good job of educating the early adopter market, the vast majority of gamers haven’t tried (or even heard of) cloud gaming before.

Part of this is that cloud gaming is still far from a solved problem — the core question of ‘how can I play X game on Y device, anywhere?’, hasn’t really been addressed.

What we’re trying to do at Highscore is learn from those who came before, and directly answer this question. I think the market is ready (and waiting) for the right solution to appear, and it won’t be long before a cloud gaming service crosses the chasm to mainstream adoption.

Do you have a rough timeline for launch?

We’re working as quickly as possible to get Highscore out the door, and we’re aiming to ship our alpha in just the next handful of months. We expect a full rollout of the service will happen shortly thereafter. During the alpha, Highscore will only be available in California, but we’re targeting nationwide availability before year-end.

Highscore lets you play your games anywhere
Highscore will let you play your games on a wide variety of devices with cloud-first like features

Can you describe (in as much detail as you are able to provide publicly) your cloud gaming architecture?

a. Number and locations of your data-centers and/or edge facilities. Are you using your own hardware or commercial cloud offerings?

To start, during our alpha period, we’re just going to have a single data-center in California. Past this first facility, we’re planning a nationwide roll-out across the US before end-of-year. Data-center negotiations are still very much ongoing, and the exact number of facilities will be in flux until shortly before deployment. That said, we’re shooting to have low-latency access to Highscore for an appreciable
percentage of the US population. We’re still evaluating our options for post-US expansion – it’s very early on this front – but it’s something that’s very much on our radar.

In terms of hardware – it’s all our own / in-house! We don’t use any of AWS / Azure / GCP / etc. to provide our service.

Node level hardware including CPU, GPU specifications, memory specs and storage specifications (on-node and/or networked)

We don’t want to say too much here, but in short, we use a variety of different node-level hardware components from several vendors to provide our service.

Actual hardware in use will vary from game-to-game, and from subscription-tier-to-subscription-tier.

Codecs used and available resolutions, frame-rates

Available resolution and frame-rates will depend on your Highscore subscription tier:

  • Free users will be able to stream at up to 720p + 60FPS.
  • Premium users will be able to stream at up to 1080p + 60FPS.
  • Pro users will be able to stream at up to 4k + 120FPS.

Codec support varies from device-to-device (depends on available decoders), and what hardware you’re connected to (game-dependent), but in general, the following formats are utilized: H.264, H.265, and AV1.

Supported end user devices

While we’re evaluating additional candidates for future support, initially, we’re focused on serving the following platforms: Web, Windows, MacOS, Linux (.deb and .rpm), iOS, iPadOS, Android, ChromeOS, and Android TV / Tizen TV.

Any other novel aspects of your cloud gaming architecture that you’d
like to highlight

We’d like keep some things a surprise for launch, but we’re putting in a lot of work on the infrastructure side to be able to make “Install & Play” a good experience. I think folks will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly games load (and how we’re able to maintain this speed as we scale), even with our storage-intensive approach.

We’re very excited to show folks what we have in store when we’re closer to launch – expect some demo videos soon!

Features on Highscore cloud gaming
Highscore is offering up to 4K 120 FPS streaming and “Virtual Couch” support

We are particularly interested in both your “virtual couch” mode and suspend-resume capabilities. Can you describe these features?

Certainly!

Our “Suspend & Resume” feature is sort-of like pressing the power button on top of your Switch (or like closing the clamshell of your 3DS). When disconnecting from your Highscore session, you’ll have the option to ‘freeze’ it in place until you return. ‘Freezing’ works for more-or-less all games on Highscore – games don’t need to directly support it – though for multiplayer games, we can’t make guarantees about maintaining server connections.

Our “virtual couch” feature is very simple in practice. When you’re playing on Highscore, you can grab a link to your current session, send it to a friend, then play together via the web (or one of our native apps). You’ll both stream from the same session, and your friend doesn’t need to be a Highscore subscriber to join! This feature is intended to be a fun way to play what would otherwise just be local-only or split-screen multiplayer with friends over the Internet.

Do you have any plans to further the reach of your service, to more territories or perhaps to more smart devices, such as more models of Smart TV OS?

Yes, definitely. To start, during the alpha, Highscore will only be available in California. We’re shooting for nationwide (USA) roll-out before end-of-year. Beyond that, we’re still evaluating the next candidates for service expansion (Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.) — but long-term, our goal is for Highscore to be
available everywhere players love to game.

In terms of device support, we’re targeting Web, Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, iPadOS, Android, ChromeOS, and Android TV / Tizen TV as our initial cohort of platforms. Past these, we’ll be continuously evaluating new candidates for support — at the moment, we’re keeping an eye on VisionOS, and considering WebOS and the Meta Quest platform as potential next targets.

Highscore Game Selection
Highscore will let you play any and all PC games you own on Steam on all your favorite devices

How do you curate and control the games that you release on to the service? Do you have the support of the publishers for each game released? Or are you operating in more of a “Virtual PC” model?

We operate on more of a “Virtual PC” model, similar to Shadow PC or AirGPU, but we’re doing a lot of work to both optimize the interface (taking inspiration from applications like GoG Galaxy, Playnite, and Lutris) and our backend infrastructure, so that the user-experience feels much more like a standard ‘pick-up-and-play’ service. There are quite a number of spicy technical challenges involved in making such an experience possible. At least for now, our goal isn’t to curate / control the games available through the service at all. Instead, our goal is to make the platform as open as possible — including giving developers the ability to submit custom snapshots for inclusion.

In particular, we are wondering how you are able to provide access to all Steam games while services like GeForce NOW only enable certain games that have explicitly opted-into cloud gaming on Steam.

You may have seen an “Install & Play” section in the interface of other cloud gaming services. We basically operate in much the same way. We actually host installed, per-user copies of games — rather than caching / cloning games, or creating ‘cloud native’ versions, when you play on Highscore, you’re connecting to your copy of a game. If no user of our service has the license to a given game, there isn’t an extra copy of the game stored somewhere. A big part of the reason this hasn’t been done yet in a big way is a technical one — unless you’re specifically building your service with this use-case in mind, it’s really hard to scale while maintaining a good user-experience. This approach requires a radically different approach to infrastructure, and isn’t really even possible to do if you’re using a hyperscaler as your infrastructure provider.

Will you support any PC game stores other than Steam, such as the Microsoft Store, Epic Game Store etc.

Yes! We’re solely focused on Steam to start, and want to keep our focus there until we’re confident we’ve nailed the user-experience down. Before moving on, we want to ensure that gaming on Highscore is a fast, stable, fun experience. That said, after we’re confident that Steam is working well, Epic and GoG are next up for us. Beyond those, our long-term goal at Highscore is to eventually allow gamers to play any PC game on any device.

Are you in talks with any other developers or publishers to secure their games for your service?

It’s a bit early for us to disclose much detail here, but yes! We’re in ongoing talks with several publishers & developers, and are working to develop a tighter integration between their games and the Highscore service. Expect more news here post-launch!

Many thanks for taking part in this interview! Is there anything else you would like to add?

Of course – we appreciate the opportunity to tell our story!

Want to make sure we clarify up-front + give a disclaimer – Highscore is still very much under development! We’re working hard to ship the service as quickly as we can, but things are constantly evolving – some elements of the service might be subject to change, and it’s likely that not all features will be available on day one.

Disclaimer aside, we’re extremely excited for the future of cloud gaming! Our vision is pretty simple: 10 years ago, everyone owned a DVD player. Today, no one does. Today, everyone owns a gaming PC or console. In 10 years, no one will.


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Jack Deslippe

Jack Deslippe is an HPC professional with a PhD in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley. As a hobby, he is passionate about consumer technology and Cloud Gaming in particular. He volunteers as an editor for Cloud Dosage in his spare time. See the games Jack is Playing at ExoPhase. Like his content? You can follow Jack on Threads: @jackdeslippe and Buy Jack a Beer.

One thought on “Highscore is a cloud gaming service coming soon – Founder Q&A”

  1. If these people put up a “founders” type subscription to Geforce Now and commit that people who subscribe until a certain date will keep the price (ideally economical and affordable) despite the fact that there will be price increases in the future. price of the service I will surely sign up
    One of the reasons why I continue with Geforce Now is because I am a “founder” member and even though they have already raised the price of the service several times, I still pay the same as the first day

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