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Home / Features / Stuff Meets…Antstream Arcade’s Steve Cottam

Stuff Meets…Antstream Arcade’s Steve Cottam

Antstream Arcade’s CEO on playing computer games as a child, making computer games as an adult, using his platform to help indie designers and AI’s effect on creativity…

Antstream Arcade

Antstream Arcade is a cloud gaming platform that focuses on retro gaming with a subscription service. It currently boasts over 1300 diverse games to play from platforms like the Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Sega Genesis, and more. Ah, memories! Here we talk to Anstream’s CEO and find more about his mission to make games as assessable as movies and music. 

Antstream Arcade Steve Cottam

I set out to make games as assessable as movies and music

Antstream came to be because I saw what was happening with music, movies and books – everything was going online and to subscription. I could get any piece of music I wanted on Spotify or iTunes and most movies I wanted to see, certainly the old classics like Back to the Future and Star Wars, but the video games I couldn’t. It’s harder with video games because it’s difficult to take something from an old Super Nintendo and make it work on a modern PC. I’ve been in tech for my whole life and could think of the technical ways to accomplish it, so that’s what I did. 

Childhood computer games kickstarted my career 

My favourite game to play as a child was Manic Miner on the ZX Spectrum, written by a guy called Mathew Smith, who funnily enough I had dinner with last week! That was the game that just captivated me, I was 12 or 13 at the time and playing it made me want to know how games were made. So, this is essentially why I learnt about coding and programming. Then, I went on to another computer called the MSX and got really into Konami games – my favourite was Gradious but it was called Nemesis in the UK, which is a shoot ‘em up. 

I couldn’t get a job in games when I started out 

I couldn’t get a job in games, so I went and worked in I.T and used every spare penny I had to set-up my own games studio and then in 1994 we released a game called Nitro Racers and that was the start of my gaming career. 

While I play more retro games, I do still enjoy retro ones…

Every Christmas I try to have a bit of time off and I’ll pick one game, get into it and aim to complete it. I got into Starfield this year. I like racing games; I have a racing chair while I’ll sit and play Forza Racing. Games I started but haven’t get finished are Red Redemption 2 and Gears Of War 5.  

I like a shoot ‘em up! 

I’m a big fan of shooters, so the one I tend to play a lot on Antstream is R-Type, which is a sideways scrolling shooter from the late 80s or early 90s maybe. On Antstream we have leader boards, tournaments, challenges, and things like that, so if any come up with a shooter in then I’ll give it a go. I’m rubbish at them – most younger gamers can thrash me nowadays, but I do still enjoy them. 

Indie developers are adding new games to Anstream’s current 1300 games all the time 

People don’t realise there are still a community of developers building new games for original handwear, for a super Nintendo, MegaDrive or a ZX Spectrum and we bring a lot of these new games on to the platform as well.  A few of these developers will put their games on Antstream but they’ll also make a physical cartridge and sell that too and have been very successful. 

We are about to give independent developers the ability to self-publish

Indie developers will be able to push their games on to Anstream and have it instantly available on Xbox, PC, Mac, Andriod and soon we will have iOs. We are launching in Mercedes cars, we’re integrated to Samsung Smart TVs too, so they’ll be able to add their game to Antstream and have it in all these places, in one hit. 

AI both fascinates and terrifies me

I’ve always been excited about what tech does and how it evolves and just how accessible things are becoming. I watch AI with an equal amount of fascination and terror – it genuinely does frighten me, but I do believe that you can’t halt progress, if we can call it that. I think AI is taking away some of the magic of creativity – one thing that has always amazed me about gaming Is the quality of the visuals, the sounds and everything that goes into make it – but if AI starts doing that, I think it stops being impressive because it’s not a person who has created it.   

Find out more at antstream.com

Profile image of Rachael Sharpe Rachael Sharpe Commissioning Editor, Stuff magazine

About

Rachael is a British journalist with 19 years experience in the publishing industry. Before going freelance, her career saw her launch websites and magazines spanning photography through to lifestyle and weddings. Since going freelance she’s sloped off to Devon to enjoy the beaches and walk her dog and has contributed to some of the world’s best-loved websites and magazines, while specialising in technology and lifestyle. It was inevitable she would graduate to Stuff at some point.

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