Technology 5 min read

Amazon Offers Disruptive New VR and Media Services

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HammerandTusk |

Amazon Sumerian gives “everyman” an opportunity to create AR and VR experiences–for a price.

Amazon already moved into the video game space with Lumberyard as now used by the infamously gorgeous and crowdfunded game Star Citizen. The shift into a VR player or offering VR videos comes as no surprise. What is surprising, however, are the implications of these new Amazon offers.

How could the new AWS media suite spell trouble for streaming platforms like YouTube?

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Sumerian is Only the Beginning

Sumerian is a browser-based tool that, as listed on the official website, “lets you create and run virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 3D applications quickly and easily without requiring any specialized programming or 3D graphics expertise.” These creations will work across HTC Vive, iOS devices, Oculus, and, soon, Android devices.

What also comes with this announcement is a slew of media services Amazon offers. The entire package includes the following components:

  • MediaConvert
  • MediaLive
  • MediaPackage
  • MediaTailor
  • MediaStore

This AWS Elemental Media suite allows you to compress and format offline video for the transition to TV or connected devices with MediaConvert. It also enables you to encode content for live broadcasting using MediaLive.

MediaPackage allows for more cost-effective distribution of video and MediaTailor adds scalability for adding targeted ads to streaming content. You can also personalize the content to potentially increase monetization and engagement efforts.

The MediaStore is exactly what it sounds like: an online home for media with promised low latency and high performance. Amazon lists this service available for “predictable pay-as-you-go” pricing.


This sounds an effective way to democratize individual media creation. This could be a place for users to upload content ranging from video essays to beauty tutorials to vine compilations.

It sounds like it could become the next YouTube.

An Answer to Monetization Woes or Just a VR Player?

As some of you may know, Google has been criticized for altering ToS agreements for creators on YouTube with specific attention to monetization and what qualifies as “adult content.” Many LGBTQIA creators had their content flagged as inappropriate by simply sharing their stories.

Other YouTubers grew angry when Google revoked monetization due to strong language or other actions considered problematic for brand sponsorship.

Beyond that, YouTube also disallows monetization for channels with fewer than 10,000 views now.

While many find ways around this using Patreon or similar services, the new AWS Elemental Media Suite could prove useful for them.

Conversely, it could also prove useful for network broadcasting channels looking to expand their content pools. CNN could create online exclusive content hosted via Amazon, but would it be subject to CNN’s regulations, Amazon’s, or both?

VR videos in a 24-hour news cycle could become taxing once the novelty wears off…

Moreover, what about streaming platforms like Twitch? Their latest content channel “IRL” has gained traction over the last year. Would Amazon’s new media suite supplant that or streaming apps like Periscope?

image of laptop keyboard for article Amazon Offers New VR and Media Services
DomAlberts | Pixabay

The Future of VR Videos & Desktops PCs

The final question the Edgy Labs team has about this latest update about Amazon offers is: could it eliminate the need for personal desktop PCs?

Or rather, is this where we stop owning our own devices? Will we pay a subscription just for computing power soon?

While interconnectivity is useful, requiring constant internet access and a subscription to use certain programs is inherently problematic. “Always on DRM” was a huge concern of gamers around the launches of the Xbox One and the game Diablo 3. Now consider that, but for apps like Adobe® Photoshop.

If it lives on the Amazon cloud as Sumerian might, do you lose access if you lose internet? Furthermore, can you ever really “own” the software or are you just on a permanent lease as with subscriptions programs available for Microsoft and Adobe products now?

Totally Immersive VR Experiences on Permanent Lease

Regardless of these concerns, the possibility for ultra enhanced VR detail is great with Sumerian.

As in the above video, a Sumerian “host” walks you through the capabilities of the robust browser tool. You can integrate text-to-speech, use language translation, create virtual classrooms–there’s a host of possibilities. No pun intended.

While it is a browser-based tool, Sumerian is compatible with iOS devices and will soon be compatible with Android devices.

Streaming powerful and fully immersive VR worlds to a headset via your smartphone could reduce the need for a robust PC. However, “pay to play” becomes a very significant concern, too, since all of this would be proprietary to Amazon.

What other implications does this latest release of Amazon offers have for the industries of broadcasting, streaming, and virtual reality?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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