Parsec now works in Google Chrome

Parsec is know for the performance of their Game Streaming App. They have a reputation for achieving extremely low latency. Normally this kind of performance requires using Parsec’s own App. That all changes today with the release of Parsec for Chrome. Now Gamers can enjoy Parsec without installing the Parsec App.

Advancements in Browser Technology

Parsec believes that their custom software and streaming protocol provide the best Game Streaming experience. This stance hasn’t changed. However, they now believe that Parsec can be pretty good in Chrome as well.

Parsec’s experimental web browser client is now available to all Parsec users. It supports Game Streaming in the latest versions of Google Chrome. Other browsers may be supported in the future. For now Chrome is the only one that supports Parsec (including Chrome on Chromebooks).

Under the hood, Parsec is using WebRTC to handle the streaming process. Chrome supports a low-delay mode that pushes video frames rather than buffering them. This allows for low-latency Game Streaming.

Parsec also uses host detection to make sure that your mouse is always in sync with the server, no hotkeys required. Without this, you could accidentally click on objects in your browser or lose control of your cursor in-game.

Accessing Parsec’s web client

Parsec makes it easy to start streaming in Chrome. Start by making sure that the normal Parsec App is running on your server (the server can be your home Gaming PC or a Cloud Server). Also be sure that the Parsec App on your server has hosting enabled.

From there all you need to do is visit Parsec’s Website. Click Start Playing in the top right corner. This will launch the Parsec web client.

Your last setup step is to go into the Settings of the Parsec web client and enable Web-mode. You can do this by going to Settings > Connections. From there, simply enable Web in client section near the bottom.

The rest of the process is business-as-usual. Your servers should show up in the browser, and you can choose to play them.

Performance vs Parsec App

Many of you are already familiar with how it feels to stream a Game through Parsec’s App. You might be wondering how a web browser session compares. The truth is that it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

We found that the browser works extremely well when you’re on the same network as your server. It’s very close to the performance of the full Parsec App. When you switch to a Cloud Server, things are a bit different.

Parsec’s web client didn’t work at all on Shadow. We repeatedly received connection errors. This is likely due to how Shadow handles streaming for their own protocol. It appears to create a conflict with WebRTC. The web client did work on LiquidSky, but performance was noticeably worse when compared to the full Parsec App. Paperspace was the best option that we tested. Streaming worked well, and it was just a tiny bit behind the performance of the full Parsec App.

With Paperspace we noticed that the video quality was slightly blurry compared to the full Parsec client. Input latency was also noticeably higher, but not so much that it made things unplayable. There were occasional slow-downs when performing quick actions.

This may sound like we didn’t like Parsec’s web client, but the truth is that it is one of the better web-based Game Streaming options available right now. Parsec’s dedicated App is still the best option when it’s available. But when it’s not you can still play reasonably well in the browser.

What comes next?

It’s worth pointing out that this is just the first version of Parsec’s web browser client. It’s using existing streaming technologies to get things going. Parsec plans to continue development and hopes to eventually implement their own BUD streaming protocol instead of WebRTC. This would be a significant advancement and should solve many of the issues that we experienced. It may also improve compatibility with services like Shadow and LiquidSky.

Keep in mind that member’s of Parsec’s WARP program get early access to upcoming features. So if you’re a fan of using Parsec in your browser, you might consider subscribing so that you can be the first to test improvements when they become available.

Also published on Medium.

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