Plex started as a way to organize and stream your media library, but it has since expanded to include live TV, ad-supported streaming video, and Tidal music, among other things. Now, Plex is dipping its toe into gaming. The new Plex Arcade service lets you stream a collection of classic Atari games to your devices. More interestingly, you can also stream your collection of classic game ROMs. However, Plex Arcade won't be free—it's $5 per month for regular users and $3 per month for Plex Pass subscribers.
The requirements for Plex Arcade are a bit more stringent than for most Plex features. First, you need to be using Plex on a Windows or macOS-based media server. You also need to make an account with Parsec, the streaming technology company Plex has partnered with for Arcade. Finally, you need to be using one of Parsec's supported GPUs, which is admittedly a rather extensive list that should cover almost everyone. After all that, you get to stream some Atari games to your phone, computer, or TV.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I don't think Atari is the real selling point of Plex Arcade; it's about the ROMs. In proper Plex fashion, the new Arcade service can organize and stream your own classic game ROMs. According to Plex, these are the currently supported platform emulators.
- Arcade: Mame (use latest core)
- Atari: 2600, 5200, 7800
- Nintendo: NES, SNES, N64, GB, GBC, GBA
- Sega: 32X, Game Gear, Genesis, Master System
This is a bit of a gray area because emulators are usually entirely legal, but backing up your game carts to ROMs is probably not. Although, no one's going to stop you. Downloading ROM files on the internet is plainly illegal, and Nintendo has been fanatical about going after ROM sites. However, Plex isn't hosting ROMs—it's just trusting you to do the right thing. The fools!
If you think Plex Arcade is worth a look, you can sign up today for a one-week free trial.
- Plex Blog