You might have heard the term “Cloud Gaming” here and there, but what does it actually mean? Well, it is a type of online gaming that runs your game on a remote server where the game is installed and utilizes that server’s components to stream the game directly to a device of your choice. It can be your TV, Your personal computer, gaming console, and even your smartphone.
Think of it as a on demand video services like Netflix or DisneyPlus, where you just log into your account and start streaming content of your choice. But instead of content, you will be playing games with just the convenience of your internet. As the entire process happens over the internet, innovators named it “Cloud Gaming.” Furthermore, with the rapid advancement of technology, cloud gaming is no more a new concept. It has been around for a while. But due to economic and technological constraints, it has failed to take off.
But now, it seems everything has fallen in place to bring Cloud Gaming enormously to this world. Hence, you may be wondering if gaming on the cloud is the future?
Well, Cloud gaming might or might not be the future of gaming, but we are here to give you a concise overview of the entire thing in this article to give you a clear-cut idea.
Although the process might look pretty straightforward, it requires a hell of infrastructure for the entire thing to work as intended. For starters, a data center or server farm with significantly higher bandwidth is a must for the games to be kept and streamed directly to the users’ gaming platform. Talking about high bandwidth, the users are also required to have fast-paced data connections to maintain the latency.
This is important because the action performed by them will journey back and forth from the server to the device to perform said in-game movements and actions. And that leaves us to the platform that the users will choose to game in.
A handful of tech giants gradually explored the concept and innovation of Cloud Gaming to see how gamers react to them and the possibility of it. Let’s go through them one by one as they have appeared throughout the decades as briefly as possible.
G-Cluster first introduced the entirety of cloud gaming at the E3 event of the year 2000 (E3 2000). They intended for the entire thing to work over Wi-Fi on handheld devices, browsers, and Smart TV’s.
This chart from broadmedia wonderfully illustrates G-Cluster’s vision of cloud gaming and how it was possible to game on various devices through cloud streaming platforms.
In March of 2010, OnLive began its initiative on cloud gaming by releasing its OnLive Microconsole. It later got acquired by Sony only to be shut down and used as a resource for the Playstation product family also going by the name PlayStation Now.
Among plenty of Cloud Gaming startups, Gaikai was one that focused on cloud gaming as a means for advertising by letting users play demos of certain games before actually purchasing them. Then again, it also got acquired by Sony in 2012, and at this point, it seemed like Sony was buying their way into the future of Gaming. The Verge has a well-put-together article about this, and if you are interested, be sure to check it out.
Nvidia hopped into the scenario by introducing their cloud gaming platform Grid, in the year 2013. It later got rebranded as GeForce Now and was offered as a part of Android TV’s incorporating Nvidia Shield. In 2017 however, they stretched their service to computer gamers by enabling them to import their entire Steam library and game on the cloud.
Later that year, Blade launched a cloud gaming service known as Shadow, which happened to be a French-based Startup and only made France’s service available. Later on, in 2019, they began to expand their service in the USA as well.
At this point, latency was an issue, and Electronic Arts acquired assets of the cloud gaming platform GameFly in 2018. They combined them with their AI, machine learning, and Frostbite engine and created a unified platform to stream high-quality blockbuster, HD multiplayer games, and other similar contents at the lowest latency possible. The entire thing was labeled as Project Atlas and showed potential for cross-platform gaming too.
Google also stepped into the Cloud gaming legacy by announcing their cloud gaming service, Stadia, at the Game Developers Conference of 2019. They have partnered up with UnrealEngine who will be entirely supporting the Stadia system.
Talking about cooperation, Project xCloud was also a joint effort between Google and Microsoft that leveraged the resources and technology of Microsoft Azure, which added significantly to the future of Cloud Gaming.
Amazon has also introduced their own cloud gaming service, Luna, in September of 2020 that features a channel-themed subscription where games from Amazon itself and Ubisoft will be available for you to play.
Though Cloud gaming sounds awesome and futuristic, it sure does have some drawbacks of its own. First of all, the in-game details won’t be as sharp and highly detailed as a high-end gaming PC due to the bandwidth limitation leading towards compressed video streaming.
Then we also have the factor of Latency as not all of us have a hyper-fast internet connection to stream and play games in real-time. We mean it will pretty much suck to play competitive and MOBA games with mouse and keyboard lag where quick-reaction is the key to win the match.
And last but not least, there is also the factor of time limitation and queuing. Take Geforce Now, for example, they offer up to 6 hours of gameplay session for paid users and only 1 hour for non-paid ones. When the session expires, you will again have to join the queue for another session of gaming.
Everything aside, Cloud Gaming still shows true potential to make gaming more convenient and affordable as you won’t have to invest in expensive gaming rigs or wait for the next-gen console to be in stock to get them. All you need to have is an internet connection and a game-worthy device to get on gaming.
There is a lot of development and tweaking to be done for Cloud Gaming to reach its truest potential. For now, all we can do is hope and be optimistic about the possibilities as tech giants keep revamping to make cloud gaming a perfection.