A Closer Look at The Future of The Gaming Industry: Cloud Gaming

neuCentrIX - 28/12/2021 15:00

Cloud gaming was a mere buzzword for almost a decade, but in the past few years, it has become the real talk of the game industry thanks to technological advances and better infrastructure. With services like Nvidia GeForce Now, Microsoft Xcloud, Google Stadia, and Sony Playstation Now already available to the public, the market of cloud gaming will only keep growing. According to Telecoms.com, cloud gaming and subscription services revenue is expected to grow 9% per year, reaching 8 billion USD by 2023.

What is cloud gaming?
Cloud gaming refers to a method of playing video games using remote servers in data centers. With this method, a game is kept, rendered, and played entirely in these servers, but players receive gaming information and interact with everything locally on an app or browser installed on their devices. Therefore, in the era of cloud gaming, players will no longer require discs, consoles, downloads, and installations to play; they will be able to stream games via the internet as easily as they stream shows on Netflix. If the “traditional” method works, then what’s the objective of cloud gaming? The goal is simply to make high-end gaming experiences easier and cheaper to access.

How is cloud gaming offered?
Cloud gaming providers typically charge their users on a subscription-based pricing model, requiring them to pay for the services monthly or annually to access the content. However, different providers might implement different terms and conditions. For example, several providers require users to purchase games on top of that fee. 

In the case of GeForce Now, the games played by users are purchased from other stores, such as Steam. Users can still play the games locally if they own the hardware, but upgrading to the subscription model will grant them certain benefits. Google Stadia, on the other hand, uses a different model. Users can’t download and install games locally but can purchase games to own on Google’s platform and stream them to any compatible device in full HD. They can play for “free” so long as they keep the subscription active. They will also get extra benefits such as increased resolution to 4K.

Most cloud gaming services provide dedicated or web-based apps to stream games. For example, Google Stadia is played on desktop PCs through a web app, on Android devices through a dedicated app which can be installed via Play Store Google, and even on Apple devices through a web app. In all cases, players only need to tap or click the Play button to start the streaming session.
Why do gamers find cloud gaming attractive?
Cloud gaming allows gamers to play on any screen — laptops, TVs, phones, tablets, and even older devices — from wherever they are as long as there is a reliable internet connection. What’s more, gamers don’t have to buy new hardware every few years to run the latest and greatest games. It offers the power of a dedicated gaming PC, without having to build, buy, or carry one around. Cloud gaming also eliminates the need to wait for downloads, installations, or updates. Finally, with cloud gaming, cheaters will run out of options to take advantage of a game as they generally can’t mod the game.

What infrastructure is necessary for the best cloud gaming experience?
Cloud gaming services require powerful servers, high-performance graphics accelerators, and low-latency video encoding to stream games over the internet, so they need to be supported by adequate technology and infrastructure. It requires suitable software and hardware as well as a stable, reliable, high-speed connectivity to ensure ultra-low latency which leads to excellent gaming experience. To remove possible challenges, gaming companies are not only involved with internet services providers; they also collaborate with hyperscale cloud service providers, 5G or edge computing providers, global content delivery networks, and streaming service companies to build the next generation of platforms for interactive, immersive, and social entertainment.

Years ago, cloud gaming was an abstract and almost too-good-to-be-true concept that the mention of this technology was laughed at most of the time. Its development was limited by various factors including technological and economic constraints. Nonetheless, in the past few years, it feels like the universe has conspired to bring cloud gaming into reality with the existence of technological advances such as hyperscale cloud computing and 5G.