The concept of gaming on demand has been with us for many years, but it looks like the reality is almost here. This is because technologies have finally gotten to the point where cloud gaming can help just about anybody play quality games without requiring any specialist gaming hardware.
Just like Netflix transformed the way in which we watch movies and television, cloud gaming has the potential to revolutionize how we play video games. Rather than buying a physical or digital copy of a game, you would be able to use cloud gaming services to stream your own gaming entertainment.
So while most serious gamers have had to rely on a PC gaming rig, or a high-powered console, with cloud gaming, free entertainment could be had by anyone with a decent internet connection and a smart TV. So keep reading to see how cloud gaming is going to change the way you play.
What is cloud gaming and how does it work?
Simply put, cloud gaming allows you to game on demand without having to buy a video game. This differs from a games subscription like the Xbox Game Pass as you won’t even need specialist gaming hardware to play the game.
Rather than relying on a PC, Xbox or PlayStation to process the gaming data, all of the processing would go in the cloud. Just as cloud storage is able to host your photos and other media, cloud gaming services would allow you to instantly play any data-heavy title.
So if you bought a cloud gaming subscription, you wouldn’t need to purchase any gaming hardware and you wouldn’t actually buy any gaming software. However, it’s worth mentioning that you would probably need to purchase your own peripherals such as a controller.
What benefits would it bring?
One of the best things about cloud gaming is the fact that it promises to allow you the freedom to play any game without worrying about what hardware you have. Rather than debating about which games were available for an Xbox or a PlayStation, cloud gaming could introduce a truly level playing field.
In addition to this, consumers would feel the benefit of not having to pay a massive amount of money up-front for a console or PC. Instead, it would simply be a matter of taking your pick of one of the cloud gaming services and paying a subscription fee.
There also won’t be any need to buy, download or install software for cloud gaming. Free games could simply be streamed and you wouldn’t even have to worry about running out of space as everything would be hosted remotely on cloud storage.
What cloud gaming services are there?
There are currently a handful of brands who have rolled-out their first cloud gaming services. Nvidia’s Geforce Now features 400 games like Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite that can be played on a PC, Mac or the brand’s own Shield device.
Hatch’s cloud gaming platform currently features over 100 games like Hitman GO, Crashlands and Monument Valley. The brand claim to be the world’s only made-for-5G game streaming service, and it offers a free option as well as a premium version.
Vortex offer up games like Doom, Fortnite, Apex Legends and League of Legends in their cloud gaming service. Shadow’s cloud gaming services offers to give you 4K PC games at your fingertips. Plus with interesting offerings from the likes of Parsec and LiquidSky, it shows that this is a market that’s going to grow fast.
When will the big tech brands get involved with cloud gaming?
It’s worth noting that many of the big players in the gaming world are starting to enter the cloud gaming realm. The Google Stadia is due to be launched in November 2019, while Microsoft has been making promising noises about their xCloud gaming project.
There’s also an interesting partnership between Sony and Microsoft that aims to deliver new ‘cloud-based solutions’ for gaming. Plus Nintendo’s president Shuntaro Furukawa has also said that the brand must keep up with the cloud gaming technology of the future.
Interestingly, many telecommunications companies are starting to get involved in cloud gaming. Verizon reportedly tested a cloud gaming service back in January 2019. Plus, with rumors that Amazon is preparing a cloud gaming platform for a 2020 release, it seems that there could be a huge fight to dominate this fledgling market.
What’s stopping the rollout of cloud gaming?
Cloud gaming is entirely dependent upon internet technologies being capable of processing the gaming data fast enough. With even a millisecond of latency being enough to ruin the enjoyment of a streamed game, it’s clear that recent broadband speeds just haven’t been fast enough.
But as internet speeds have increased and with the rollout of 5G just around the corner, it seems that technologies have finally caught up to the concept.
Although companies like Hatch can now give you the chance to stream simple games like Monument Valley at internet speeds of 2-3 Mbps, cloud gaming won’t truly be here until even the most data-heavy console game can be played on a cloud gaming service.
5G technology promises to deliver up to 100 times the amount of data currently served up by 4G. Although we probably won’t enjoy peak 5G for another decade, when it comes, it means that everyone should be able to enjoy 4K high-quality gaming on a smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Will cloud gaming mean the end of games consoles?
The central concept of cloud gaming is that it gives the consumer the chance to enjoy high-quality gaming without needing to own the software or hardware. But this doesn’t mean that we will see the last of consoles, and it looks like cloud gaming will coexist alongside PC and console gaming.
Most hardcore gamers will be hanging on to their devices to ensure that they enjoy the lowest possible latency, and it will probably be lapsed or casual gamers who will be the first to be tempted by cloud gaming.
But as internet speeds increase and cloud gaming becomes more commonplace, it’s entirely possible that a new generation of gamers will emerge who will see console gaming as being expensive, limiting and unnecessary.
What does this mean for the future of esports?
Anything that opens up gaming to more people is only going to be beneficial for esports. Cloud gaming has been predicted to bring in more lapsed gamers, mobile gamers, female gamers and families who may have been unwilling to invest in a high-powered gaming console. Plus even fans of esports betting might be tempted to take the plunge into cloud gaming as a result of the reduced costs.
This means more people will have chances to play at a professional level. More participation means that the esports scene will grow and the greater numbers will ensure that more money flows into competitive gaming.
Similarly, tech companies will benefit from the reduced costs of creating the hardware and more funds can be set aside for improving cloud storage facilities. Although there will probably be plenty of exclusive deals where certain games are only available on select cloud gaming services, most publishers will want to have their titles available for the biggest number of consumers.
It’s already evident that cloud gaming is no longer a mere concept. Once it will enter the mainstream, it will help everyone enjoy high-quality gaming no matter where they are. So just as Netflix and Amazon have transformed the way we enjoy movies and TV, cloud gaming will certainly do the same for video gaming.
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Feature image courtesy of Vortex