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Unity to acquire remote desktop app Parsec for $320 million

Parsec has grown in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic, enough so that it became ripe for acquisition.


If you produce new technology that helps make work or life easier, there’s a good chance that you would be in line for a substantial windfall, either through sales or acquisition. For the makers of Parsec, a remote desktop app made popular by gamers, the windfall will come in the form of acquisition. Earlier today, Unity, producers of the popular Unity Engine, announced plans to acquire Parsec in a deal worth $320 million.

Parsec first debuted back in 2016 and offered a simpler way for gamers to play games together, even if the game did not have explicit online multiplayer support. Parsec would allow a third-party client to connect to the host machine running the game, then encode a video recording of the on-screen action and stream it to the third-party client. It offers support for multiple types of input devices and when network conditions are optimal, provides low-latency interaction for non-native clients.

Unsurprisingly, the features that endeared Parsec to gamers also made it an attractive option for work collaboration, particularly for digital artists and 3D modelers. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced people into remote office work, the value offered by Parsec grew exponentially.

“We believe that, more and more, creators will need to be able to work anywhere,” Unity Senior Vice President Marc Whitten explained to TechCrunch. “They’re going to work in groups that are dispersed by distance, or they’re going to be in a hybrid environment where they might be working in the office sometimes and at home sometimes. I think that’s going to mean that those creators are going to need to have access to the power they need on the glass that they have, wherever they are.” he adds. “And Parsec is a great example of a company that has just deeply innovated in that space.”

Parsec will add another feather into Unity cap and it only cost them $320 million in cash to make it happen. Whitten told TechCrunch that he doesn’t foresee any changes for existing Parsec users, but couldn’t comment yet on any potential changes to subscriptions/pricing.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 10, 2021 2:10 PM

    Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Unity to acquire remote desktop app Parsec for $320 million

    • reply
      August 10, 2021 1:44 PM

      Unity to acquire Parsec, a desktop streaming software application, as to incorporate those features into Unity Engine

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        August 10, 2021 1:47 PM

        Interesting. I wonder if game streaming can be better if the game engine is designed to work for streaming.

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          August 10, 2021 1:49 PM

          You can minimize the parts of round-trip lag that occur in the engine, just like you can for your display or controller, but ultimately the network distance is still going to be a major factor in performance.

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        August 10, 2021 2:57 PM

        Damn, acquisitions like this usually mean the end of the free versions. That'll be super sad. I use Parsec every day :(

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          August 10, 2021 3:43 PM

          Sucks. Parsec has proven far more resilient to lag spikes than moonlight or steam streaming. Those two just die and have to be restarted sometimes while parsec just does a super-hitch then keeps going

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        August 10, 2021 3:01 PM

        Ugh. Game streaming is a dead end, proven over and over again. Waste.

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          August 10, 2021 3:05 PM

          its funny because i was super big into game streaming about 10 yrs ago with onlive, thinking itd be the end all. but since then we have 144hz monitors, 1440p/4k, and its just too differnet for me to go back to 1080p 30-60fps and 30ms input lag

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            August 10, 2021 3:44 PM

            This is sort of the issue I've had with it all along (well, one of them) - the tech was always described in the way you'd describe a kid's drawing, couching it in terms to not go too hard on it.

            "Well there's lag and artifacts but the tech is impressive considering what all they're having to do" so, if you ignore the shitty parts the rest isn't shitty.

            The next prong of that was "well they can only do 720p but at this rate they'll be able to go 1080p before long" well that's great but by the time they can do 1080p we'll be on to 4K. And 120+ Hz monitors. And by the time they're good at that we might be on to... whatever is next. I mean maybe there comes a point at which display tech is as good as it can get (really how dense can you make pixels?) but it seems like they'd always be having to play catchup and spending a ton of time and money trying to figure out how to fit high end graphics through a straw, resources that could be spent better elsewhere.

            That all said, if anyone can figure this out it's Microsoft. But if they can't, that's pretty much the ballgame.

            Also holy shit this has been "the future" for a decade now?

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              August 11, 2021 4:56 AM

              I mean this is all true but the argument for game streaming in the short to medium term is that it’s aimed at the enormous majority of people who don’t care about 4K, 60fps, HDR and have never heard the term input lag. The same way most people are fine with streaming Netflix for movies rather than buying a Blu-ray player.

              It’s all about expanding the potential user base for a subscription model, and the bet is there is an huge amount of potential gamers who might spend 15 bucks a month on a sub, yet won’t drop 500 on a console. They’re also most likely not the people with 4K TVs.

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                August 11, 2021 9:07 AM

                I'm skeptical that there's a big market for people who don't care about input lag.

                Like really small amounts in the nanosecond range that only twitch gamers would notice, sure, but if it's more than a fraction of a second off no one's going to put up with that.

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          August 10, 2021 3:38 PM

          I tried Ori on XCloud recently. Even on gigabit fiber that delay is just too much along with the bluriness. It’s impressive, but impractical to me for anything requiring reactions. I don’t want to have to lead my targets or jump early like it’s Quake on a 14,400 modem again.

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        August 10, 2021 4:15 PM


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          August 10, 2021 4:53 PM

          Yep. I barely use it for gaming these days but I use it every day to remote into a different computer to run Windows apps on my M1 MBA. The only real complaint I have with it is that it's kinda a battery hog on the MBA but I'm plugged in most of the time so it doesn't matter that much.

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          August 10, 2021 8:59 PM

          We've been using it while working remotely rather than RDP. It's fantastic, especially since they added dual monitor support.

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          August 10, 2021 9:03 PM

          Parsec is good but their competitors are not really RDP and TeamViewer, but rather Teradici and NICE DCV and other PCoIP products, which are already in heavy professional use. Netflix uses NICE DCV, for instance*. Parsec is the scrappy consumer product trying to break into the professional market, but these other players are already there.


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        August 10, 2021 8:30 PM


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      August 10, 2021 2:19 PM

      Anyone here with Parsec experience for remote games or work?

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        August 10, 2021 2:33 PM

        I've used it to do a lot of graphics programming/game reverse engineering on VMs and it's very good. Just as good as moonlight and nvidia game share. Pretty sure it works the exact same way. The benefit of parsec vs moonlight for this is it just all works and having the unified login system. I only ever used their free service. I also used moonlight and that had slightly better quality but would break about half the time when i would log in and I'd spend 10 minutes fixing it. Parsec just worked but it was weird to involve a third party in a connection to a VM on the same network.

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          August 10, 2021 2:46 PM

          So you've only used it in sessions by yourself? I can see it being really handy for remote graphics development, will have to keep that in mind.

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        August 10, 2021 2:34 PM

        i've used it to play Steam games in AWS, works great

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          August 10, 2021 2:48 PM

          What kinds of games and on which kind of virtualized hardware (and emulation if needed)?

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            August 10, 2021 2:52 PM

            i don't remember which GPU instance type i used but they have newer types today anyway. it was something like $1/hour so i didn't use it heavily. i mostly played the AOE2 remake and StarCraft comp stomps. RTSes are the one itch i can't scratch on console

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        August 10, 2021 8:27 PM

        I used it with an Azure GPU instance VM for gaming and it worked well but was pretty expensive so I gave it up.

        I use it locally every day to run Werd on a PC and use it from my mac and it works pretty great for that.

        Only problem with it is that it uses 4:2:0 chroma subsampling by default. 4:4:4 is available if you pay their subscription but it has steep requirements for the GPU on both ends to encode/decode that quickly at high resolutions.

        It's really a "just works" situation if you have it running on physical hardware. It's a little more work to get it to run on a headless VM and it needs to be a VM with a dedicated GPU.

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      August 10, 2021 2:24 PM

      I was fascinated by who would buy Parsec when I learned about them. Debate settled, I guess.

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      August 10, 2021 2:32 PM

      For the short term this seems good as they should have plenty of runway to continue development for 4+ years. In the long term I wonder if they will get competition.

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      August 10, 2021 8:33 PM

      Parsec is easily ahead of the game in a lot of ways.

      I know multiple studios have been making heavy use of Parsec for remote work.

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