Image: Parsec

Parsec is helping game developers embrace the future of remote work

Protocol Gaming

This week in Protocol Gaming, your weekly guide to the business of video games: an interview with Parsec CEO Benjy Boxer on remote work, Facebook's metaverse-themed rebrand, and bad news for those hoping to play a next-gen Cyberpunk 2077.

How streaming platform Parsec prepared for the pandemic on accident

Parsec CEO Benjy Boxer found himself in a peculiar position last year. His company, which specializes in beaming a remote computer to any screen over the internet, didn't yet have an enterprise business. But in March 2020, companies started begging Parsec to build it so they could transition to remote work.

Many of those firms were game developers, which couldn't easily relocate large workstations to employees' homes. "After a month, it became clear this was a business we should be investing in," Boxer told Protocol in an interview. "One of our customers said in April of 2020, 'It's either we don't make games, or we license Parsec.'"

Parsec started with a focus on gaming. Founded in 2016, Parsec began by setting a high bar to validate its low-latency streaming tech. If the company could make a good enough streaming platform to support multiplayer gaming for consumers, that product would be good enough for most other industries.

  • Parsec became an early cloud gaming provider by letting users stream the screen of a more powerful desktop machine to multiple devices. It worked best for letting people play co-op and local multiplayer games with friends with one stream from a single PC.
  • Boxer said the trick was not to try to replicate an experience with streaming, but to let people do something they could never do before. "You're given them a superpower," he said. "They'll be OK with some of the compromises."
  • Parsec was aware the tech had potential as an enterprise product, but it hadn't felt a need to pivot. "Throughout that time, we always knew about 15[%] to 20% of our usage was for work and we didn't do anything about it," Boxer said, "until the pandemic happened."

Parsec became a remote-work lifeline during COVID-19. Game development requires programmers and artists to have not only a powerful machine, but also a high upload connection for managing large data files and accessing servers. Accessing such machines remotely requires robust streaming software, much of which is not tailored for creative work.

  • "When COVID happened, rather than competing against the Citrix of the world in terms of security and admin tools, we were competing against, 'I can't do my work, period,'" Boxer said. Companies began using Parsec for everything from play testing to asset building, and it was Parsec's low-latency streaming tech that helped it stand apart from other remote workstation providers.
  • Electronic Arts became a major customer in April 2020, even though Parsec had only the most bare-bones enterprise offering at the time. "For the first nine months, we didn't have an annual contact available," Boxer said. "It was monthly in case it didn't work out."
  • Earlier this year, Parsec's business attracted the attention of game engine provider Unity, which bought the company for $320 million back in August. It was Unity's biggest-ever acquisition. Both companies are now extending Parsec's tech into Unity's growth areas beyond game development, like architecture and filmmaking.

Boxer is now a full believer in the remote-work future. "When creatives need to collaborate and work together and develop real-time 3D experiences, they need to do so with really powerful computers," he said. "Companies are not going to buy people two computers. They're going to have office computers, and you're going to access them with Parsec."

  • Parsec conducted a study last year that found that 78% of its game development customers and 92% of its animation and computer graphics customers were happier working from home.
  • Boxer thinks the remote shift is going to change creative fields forever by letting companies recruit from outside major urban centers and by helping employees live more flexible lives.
  • "Centralizing everyone into one building for work is going to look like an aberration in the cycle of human production and industry," he said.

No one could have easily predicted how the pandemic was going to accelerate trends like remote work. And in fields like game development, where spending long hours in the office is an ingrained cultural requirement, the remote shift felt even more unlikely. But it's happening, and Parsec was fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time, with the right product, to capitalize on it.


Hate meetings that could've been a page? Meet less and collaborate more with Confluence. Clear your calendar from endless meetings with Confluence templates and real-time collaboration features that kickstart projects and keep your whole team in sync. Try Confluence today. Start for free!

Learn more


  • "There's no quota. There's no kind of timeline where I have to go acquire studios by a certain time, but if we find a studio where we have a good fit, we share what we're trying to go do and what they're trying to go do, and if we feel we can both get better together, absolutely." ―Xbox chief Phil Spencer explained the company's acquisition strategy in an interview at the WSJ Live conference last week, remarking how the team is "definitely not done" building out Xbox Game Studios.
  • "We call it as we see it. It doesn't matter what your rank is, what your job is. If you've committed some sort of misconduct or you're a leader who has tolerated a culture that is not consistent with our values, we're going to take action. The impact on the business is not a consideration." ―Fran Townsend, Activision Blizzard's chief compliance officer, gave a rare interview to the Financial Times last week saying the company had fired 20 employees over harassment claims. Townsend's rhetoric is markedly different now than her earlier, more dismissive approach to the legal troubles.


  • Ubisoft is reviving Splinter Cell. The French publisher is secretly working on a new Splinter Cell game after leaving the series dormant for the last eight years, VGC reported last week. Timing of the leak is convenient; Ubisoft's Ghost Recon Frontlines reveal last month was met with almost universal disappointment.
  • CD Projekt Red delays its next-gen upgrades. Fans hoping to play a slightly improved Cyberpunk 2077 for PS5 or Xbox Series X will have to wait until early next year, the studio announced last week. The remaster of The Witcher 3 is also now releasing in mid-2022. (In a more positive development, CDPR has acquired excellent indie developer The Molasses Flood.)
  • Electronic Arts hires a big name in Halo. Marcus Lehto, former creative art director at Bungie and responsible in part for the design of Halo's Master Chief, is building a new Seattle studio for EA working on "first-person games," which means most likely a new shooter.
  • Epic Games scores two new publishing deals. Eyes Out and Spry Fox are the newest indie developers to join Epic's publishing arm with plans to release some unconventional-sounding games. Eyes Out is a new studio co-founded by Nine Inch Nails member Robin Finck, while Spry Fox made its name earlier this year with life-sim Cozy Grove.
  • Xbox Game Pass comes up short. The subscription service missed its annual subscriber growth targets as revealed in a financial filing last week, Axios reported. We haven't received updated metrics on the platform since Microsoft said it had 18 million customers in January. That may change today with the company's latest earnings report.
  • The Activision Blizzard lawsuit is still on. A bitter bout of regulatory infighting between California's DFEH and the federal EEOC gave the game publisher an opportunity to try to have its sexual harassment and discrimination suit paused. A Los Angeles County judge refused the request after less than a week, Law360 reported.
  • Epic fires back at Apple (again). Following Apple's attempt to have the court's orders in the Fortnite case be put on hold, Epic filed a response late last week asking the court to reject the request. "History shows … that in the absence of an injunction, Apple will not make any changes," Epic argued.
  • Square Enix is investing more in mobile, too. The Japanese publisher is opening a new mobile-focused studio in London that's already working on building games in the Tomb Raider and Avatar: The Last Airbender universes.

Look out for Facebook's full vision for the metaverse

This Thursday will go down in tech history as a pivotal moment for the metaverse, if only because Facebook is expected to debut its metaverse-themed name change, as first reported by The Verge last week. The date is the debut of Facebook's annual Connect conference, a gathering once reserved only for Oculus VR news that has since been expanded to include the social network's much grander ambitions for augmented and virtual reality.

Speculation on the name change is rampant: Platformer's Casey Newton reported that Mark Zuckerberg may still be undecided and could make the final call any day now. But what is clear is that Facebook wants to remake itself into far more than a social networking company, and perhaps ditch some of its bad reputation in the process.


Hate meetings that could've been a page? Meet less and collaborate more with Confluence. Clear your calendar from endless meetings with Confluence templates and real-time collaboration features that kickstart projects and keep your whole team in sync. Try Confluence today. Start for free!

Learn more

Thanks for reading. Tell your friends and colleagues to subscribe here, and send tips, feedback and ideas to See you next week.

Correction: A previous version of this story mentioned the incorrect day for the Microsoft/Xbox earnings call. This story was updated on Oct. 26, 2021.

Recent Issues