Cloud Gaming; The Future?

 

Greatest Year in Gaming?

It’s speculation. Having done a limited amount of cursory research over the past couple weeks around the upcoming cloud gaming platforms that are expected for this year; I’m excited. This has the potential to be a year that gamer’s remember for a long time to come because of the technology that is coming and how much more accessible games could become for all of us. There are certainly going to be some challenges, bandwidth, being among the biggest on my mind but I think it’s an awesome step in a new direction.

It makes me wonder, assuming cloud gaming takes off, what does this mean for consoles as we know it or the custom PCs that many enthusiast build frequently to ever improve their already stunning computing performance? What does 10 years down the road look like for all of these things, does it exist still?

It’s hard to say, obviously, and I can’t say for certain what any of it means but I do favor more competition within the gaming realm. For quite a while now (20 years?) there have really only been two major players in the market; Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo has been around but they’ve carved out their own section of the market and went different roads than the other two which lead to them doing well for themselves and instead of being viewed as a competitor it’s almost like their consoles are a “nice to have” that compliment that of a PS4 or Xbox One at this point in time. I know lots of people that have a switch as well as a PS4 or Xbox One but I don’t know too many people that have bought both a Xbox One and PS4 - though I know they exist, I don’t see it as frequently.

Now enter Google with their first attempt at the gaming arena. A major company with a lot of infrastructure, money, and knowledge. They will be competing directly with Microsoft and Sony, but instead of trying to get you to buy their console, they want you to use their cloud gaming service instead of worrying about buying a physical console. I will say though, it’s possible Google releases a streaming “console” to assist with their cloud gaming product. Will this immediately disrupt the gaming economy as we know it?

Unlikely.

I think it’s going to be amazing but I think their services, for now, will be much like Nintendo’s consoles; a compliment or “nice to have” along with owning one (or more) of the major consoles on the market today. The reason I think of it from this angle is because of bandwidth… it’s all about bandwidth. Here are a few problems with the cloud gaming solution.

  1. Individual internet speed, performance, and pricing. Fast enough internet is not readily available to everyone and so they likely wont be able to participate.

  2. Bandwidth is a big problem as you could very quickly hit your internet “cap” for the month if you have one and it would like dramatically lower the internet performance for anyone else on your network while you’re playing.

  3. Lack of internet connection! Obviously if you can’t get access to the internet then you likely cannot play any games at all. There are solutions around this, like what Netflix allows with some of their shows and movies. You can download it for 7-10 days to use offline and then it will be removed. That’s something that could be done with gaming but then you need to make sure you’ve got the storage to support it and, of course, the internet speed to actually download the game interest. As it is currently I don’t think this would be a solution for phones or tablets.

Shouldn’t be surprising that all of the issues I list revolve around the internet right? There are solutions to these problems, though they may not be solutions we can deploy right now or even clean solutions.

For everyone that has strong internet access and plays most of their games when connected to the internet then I think these services will certainly have something to offer especially if you’re a PC enthusiast and cringe watching your wallet shrink every couple months when you want to upgrade your parts for more FPS.

I personally think cloud gaming is the future of gaming and it’s here to stay but I’m not sure it will be an instant success. It will go through its own growing pains over the next couple years but maybe in 10 years we’re all just playing our games through the cloud on our crappy PCs that we’ve neglected to upgrade for years.