Never ones to let an opportunity for more microtransactions go begging, Electronic Arts is pursuing its own experiments with Project Atlas. Revealed last year, EA has over 1000 staff working on Project Atlas, creating AI-powered cloud games with massive maps and even greater player counts.

Now, almost one year later, EA chief technology officer Ken Moss has announced a technical test for EA’s cloud gaming service is about to kick off. Should you be up for giving it a shot, you can register for the Project Atlas technical trial through the Community Playtesting portal.

While EA’s grandiose description of Project Atlas last year made it sound as if we’d be getting truly revolutionary gaming experiences powered by the cloud. This trial sounds as if it’s limited to just one small aspect of Project Atlas, allowing users to play four (fairly old) EA games over the cloud network - FIFA 19, Titanfall 2, Need For Speed Rivals, and Unravel. Hardly the most inspiring selection of games but, er, they will at least have cross-play and cross-progression with users on Origin PC.

From the outset, this looks as if it’s a cloud service very much along the lines of Google’s Stadia, Microsoft’s Project xCloud, and Sony’s PS Now. There’s not much to say about it other than it’s a cloud-focused solution for allowing games to be played on any device from anywhere there’s a connection. This would appear to be Project Atlas in its most basic form and, like both Google and Microsoft, EA envisions a grander plan which can leverage the global cloud infrastructure to deliver some more expansive games.

“While cloud gaming is just one part of our broader vision for how cloud will shape the future of gaming, our belief remains strong that these continued investments in cloud, distributed computing, AI, social features, and engines will redefine the creation, distribution, and consumption of games,” says Moss. “As we’re continuing to advance our work on building those components of the future, the cloud gaming technical trial is a milestone in our journey."

Somewhat ominously for the doubters, Moss follows this up with the claim that “Cloud gaming is coming. It’s no longer a question of if, but when. It’s still really early days but we’re excited to take this next step in our learning, and it’s great to be able to do it with some of you in our community. This is about enhancing the quality of our games and services for a cloud powered future. So if there is an opportunity to elevate the experience and inspire more people to play, we are going to explore it.”

Just to reiterate then, you can sign up for a chance to play-test Project Atlas by following the link up near the top of the article. We’d expect EA to be pretty sharp-ish about getting these tests set up as well. Google Stadia is out in November and Microsoft has promised advanced public trials of Project xCloud by the year’s end.