Cloud Gaming Will Soon Take Over

As the eighth generation of games consoles draws to an end in the coming years, discussions on whether cloud gaming will take over have arisen. In the darker corners of the internet, rumblings about the extinction of the disc drive loom. Blockchain technology is beginning to blossom and the question of whether we’ll even need our own hardware to run games has become a bigger one. With a giant supercomputer running the show, all we’ll need is the right streaming service.

Of course streaming services are in full swing as it is. Netflix continues to dominate as the conventional television has morphed into a “Smart TV” that offers the download of apps like Hulu and Netflix. Of course, to offer a similar service that dishes out games to the viewer is larger and more turbulent kettle of fish. Although, there are signs that the games industry has been making efforts to bring it into the mainstream. The obvious examples of this include PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass, as well as other independent gaming companies offering the service on PC. While Crackdown 3 is employing cloud based technology to sustain its fully destructible environments. 

Recently, I wrote about the looming cloud gaming shift in chapter one of KeenGamer’s ebook, The Future of Videogames. I discussed the unlimited potential of how any game, no matter how demanding, could run on your device of choice. It would eradicate lag in online matches, load screens and unlock frame rates to the point of killing off consoles altogether. Now, several voices from the games industry like Yves Guillemot (CEO of Ubisoft) and Activision are reflecting these theories right back at us. I hate to say “I told you so.”

Before delving into these industry confirmations of what the future holds for our gaming experiences, let’s take a look at what exactly cloud gaming is as Google defines it. 

“Cloud gaming, sometimes called gaming on demand, is a type of online gaming. Currently there are two main types of cloud gaming: cloud gaming based on video streaming and cloud gaming based on file streaming. Cloud gaming aims to provide end users frictionless and direct play-ability of games across various devices.”

This means, as long as you’re hooked up to the right subscriptions (some of which may not even exist yet) there’s never any need to be concerned about your own hardware keeping up. The files are sent seamlessly to your device from the game’s point of origin (a giant supercooled mega-computer in a basement somewhere) and loaded in as you play. If you’ve not read my chapter of the ebook, take a minute to let that sink in and what it can mean for the next big evolution in gaming. If anything, it’s a big step towards a fully digital gaming market. 

Graphics chip giant, Nvidia is leading the charge on this front with GeForce Now. A subscription service that ties into their Nvidia Shield app, costing no less than $7.99 a month. Could that be a saving for the avid gamer on a budget? Here’s what Nvidia have to say about their cloud based GRID technology “Now with revolutionary NVIDIA GRID cloud gaming technology, you'll soon be able to stream video games from the web just like any other streaming media. GRID renders 3D games in cloud servers, encodes each frame instantly and streams the result to any device with a wired or wireless broadband connection.” 

Boldly, Nvidia calls this “freedom from the console,” already ushering in a rhetoric that sees games consoles and their supposed “limited hardware” as dinosaurs. While current attempts at cloud gaming have fallen back on user connectivity, the stability of GRID promises to usher in the next leap forward towards cloud gaming dominance, with SlashGear stating “GRID truly appears to be prepared to change the way we play games from top to bottom.”

Recently, CEO of Ubisoft Yves Guillemot, gave a statement during ChinaJoy at Shanghai on what his thoughts are for the future of videogames. He gave a passionate speech on – you guessed it – cloud gaming. Check out the video below for his full statement.

Meanwhile, Activision have expressed a willingness to embrace cloud gaming, believing that it is a big positive both for the consumer and the industry. To Chief Operating Officer, Collister Johnson, cloud gaming is an opportunity to bring Activision’s gaming products to a larger audience allowing studios to make games offering “big screen experiences to audiences that don’t have a console.” In a recent review on the gaming company’s Q2 2018 earnings, he made the following statement:

“we think cloud-based gaming and streaming is a very strong positive for the industry, and particularly for us. It should ultimately accelerate growth in an already growing industry. First, it has the potential to significantly expand the reach of our big screen experiences to audiences that don’t have a console. And in some cases don’t have a PC, depending on the streaming system you’re talking about.

And second, even for existing gamers, streaming systems, they should be able to provide more easily accessible experiences, reducing friction, enabling deeper ongoing engagement throughout the day as the content is more available.

And third, we think we in particular are well placed to take advantage of streaming cloud-based gaming when it comes. We have deep, strong franchises that certainly benefit from exposure to broader audiences. We have vibrant player communities who are looking for, right now for additional ways to access the franchises that they love. And as a company that creates our content, fully owns our IP, has some of the best IP in gaming we think, we’re well positioned to take advantage of any associated economics that the streaming platforms may bring to bear.

So I mean, as you might expect, we’re in dialogue with large global tech platform providers about their cloud infrastructure and potential streaming solutions. But we also think that there are some important hurdles to overcome before streaming becomes widely adopted. There’s a number of them, but just as one example, latency requirements mean a lot in gaming. Live measured in milliseconds can disrupt the gaming experience in a way that, it doesn’t really matter for watching a movie or a TV show. And so we feel like there’s still work to be done before the tech is ready for mainstream adoption. So we do think this will happen. Probably not in the near term and we’re well positioned when it does.”

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