Plex, the company that helps people organize and access all of their movies, TV shows, and music using media server software, has announced its first subscription streaming service, Plex Arcade. As the name suggests, it’s a gaming service, but unlike similar products from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Nvidia, Plex Arcade is focused (for now) on giving subscribers access to classic Atari console titles from the 1980s. Plex Arcade costs $5 per month, but Plex Pass subscribers get a $2 discount, bringing the price down to $3 per month. There’s also a seven-day free trial period.
Plex Arcade will initially feature a 30-game selection of Atari’s library of 2600 and 7800 console games, including titles like Centipede, Missile Command, Lunar Lander, Food Fight, and Gravitar. Unfortunately, many of the most popular titles for these consoles, like Pac Man, Space Invaders, Joust, and Donkey Kong are not among the available games at launch.
You’ll be able to play these streamed games on Android (mobile and TV), iOS, tvOS, and Chrome devices with the free Plex client installed, but Plex Arcade also has a server requirement, which is unusual in the streaming game world.
To use Plex Arcade, you’ll need the free Plex Media Server installed on a Windows PC or a Mac (Linux is currently unsupported) on your home network. Setting up a Plex server is fairly straightforward — check out our guide to using Plex for a full walk-through.
As with all of Plex’s supported content, Plex Arcade games will show up as their own content category within the main Plex interface.
Plex Arcade is compatible with virtually any Bluetooth or USB game controller that works with your streaming device, e.g. Apple TV, Nvidia Shield TV, etc., or you can use a keyboard for Chrome-based gaming. Plex recommends the Sony DualShock 4 or Xbox One controller for the best results.
Curiously, Plex is striking an experimental tone with its introduction of Plex Arcade. In its launch blog post, the company says, “…it’s far from done and we see it as a kind of internal Kickstarter-type project.” It goes on to say that if subscriber interest remains strong, Plex will continue to grow the service, but if not, the experiment will end.
Creating a game subscription service that caters to fans of retro gaming is clever — it’s a niche that none of the other services have opted to fill. But it’s also risky: At $5 per month, Plex Arcade is the same price as Apple Arcade, which follows the same model of unlimited gaming for one monthly price. But Apple Arcade’s titles are slick, modern affairs, with hi-res graphics and sound. It’s unclear if people will be willing to pay the same price for a relatively small selection of games that are, in some cases, more than 40 years old.
Then there’s the question of the Atari VCS, a new Atari game console that has been years in the making, and that promises access to all of the same content as Plex Arcade, plus modern gaming titles, too.
Until now, Plex has stayed clear of creating its own subscription streaming service, opting instead for the free, ad-supported model. It began this approach with its on-demand movies and TV show service, then followed up with an 80-channel live TV streaming option. Depending on its experience with Plex Arcade, this could be the beginning of a slew of new subscription services from the company — a move that has been expected since 2019.
Here’s the full list of Atari games available at launch:
- 3D Tic-Tac-Toe
- Alien Brigade
- Dark Chambers
- Desert Falcon
- Fatal Run
- Food Fight (Charley Chuck’s)
- Haunted House
- Human Cannonball
- Lunar Battle
- Lunar Lander
- Major Havoc
- Missile Command
- Motor Psycho
- Ninja Golf
- Planet Smashers
- Radar Lock
- Sky Diver
- Sky Raider
- Super Breakout