|This funky-looking controller is at the center of Alienware’s prototype|
At CES 2022, Alienware unveiled Concept Nyx, a game streaming platform that lets a household of gamers stream games to multiple TVs simultaneously from a single, powerful gaming PC. At-home streaming from a PC isn’t a new concept (opens in new tab), though Alienware is looking to streamline the experience, starting with the controller.
I actually got my hands on a Concept Nyx game controller at a recent Alienware event. While I didn’t play any games, I did get to play with many of the controller’s features.
The first thing you notice about the Nyx controller is that instead of a proper d-pad, it’s got a circular touchpad that acts as a mouse for navigating in-game menus for titles traditionally meant for a keyboard and mouse. In fact, one of the pre-recorded gameplay demos I was shown had the touchpad mapped to skills in Guild Wars 2. I would have loved to see this in action for myself since touchpads can be a bit finicky when they act as buttons and not for movement. I’m looking at you, Steam controller. (opens in new tab)
Most of the demo was mainly spent tooling around with the controller’s features and learning about its role in the game streaming ecosystem of Nyx. Think of the controller as your hall pass for accessing your games on any TV in the house. You could walk into any room with the Nyx app installed on the TV, which immediately pulls up your gaming profile. The Alienware logo on the center is a thumbprint reader that identifies you, loads up your game library, and even resumes your progress. The idea is that if you’ve been kicked off the TV for whatever reason, you can simply pick up where you left off in a different room.
My favorite controller feature is the ‘self-adjusting variable resistance thumb sticks.’ This means you can adjust the thumbstick tension on the fly without opening the controller or using a tool. In addition to the thumbsticks setting, you can customize these controllers’ haptics on a per-game basis. All this is controlled by two scroll wheels located at the bottom of the controller. No software is required.
Multiple Nyx users can even share the screen to play two entirely different games simultaneously side-by-side as long as they have two Nyx controllers. It’s something that sounds cool in theory but could be distracting unless you’re sporting a massive TV in your living room.
In a press release, Dell and Alienware hope in less than a decade to use the computing power of Concept Nyx outside of gaming for mixed reality experiences and “virtual collaborative spaces” that feature “displays and other tools that remove the need for a VR headset.”