Is cloud streaming the future of gaming?

By Alex Maidment (nSanity Beach)

We’re fast moving away from the days when an internet connection was purely a way to play with other people to a time when more and more games rely on an internet connection to play.

You only have to look as far as Call of Duty and their latest installment, Black Ops 4 that is an entirely online game moving away from the offline campaign option that always used to be the game. 

While the idea of moving to entirely internet based gaming is both interesting and pretty cool, it does start to highlight issues with the current broadband and general internet infrastructure around the world. Right now, for example, games only need the internet to connect you to the servers, download information and upload information as you play with the console doing all the work to actually power the game. 

Although Microsoft and Sony have both announced their next generation consoles and Microsoft have also said it won’t be their last console, both Google and Microsoft are offering up cloud gaming services that could change the industry entirely for future generations. 

Google Stadia is not far from launching and is promising some pretty amazing features such as being able to play AAA games through a website browser, a streaming dongle like a Chromecast and even on some mobiles. What allows them to do this is by hosting all of the processing power elsewhere, somewhere on a server farm and then they’re just allowing you to connect to the service through the internet and stream the game. 

It’s a really cool idea and introduces a new way to play games that doesn’t mean forking out for an expensive PC or console and just using the hardware you have already, your laptop for example. 

Microsoft are doing something similar with the launch of xCloud, which from what it seems, allows you to use your Xbox console as a mini server to stream games on the go on a mobile or laptop, much like Google Stadia. 

It really does have the potential to be a game changer and when you read the news about Sony and Microsoft talking with regards to Microsoft’s cloud streaming service, you know there must be something in the idea!

As cool as it all seems, there is still the problem of the internet that I mentioned earlier on. These streaming services rely on pretty decent internet, especially if you want 4k resolutions and fast frame rates, and that’s not something everyone has access to. 

Even with the hopes and promise of the 1Gb per second connection that 5G technology is offering, it still feels like we’re a way off being able to rely purely on streaming. 

It’s not even just the speed of the internet, it’s the consistency. It’s all well and good have ultra high speeds (I have 200mbps right now) but if the consistency of the speed is no good, then you’re back to square one. 

Realistically, cloud streaming probably really is the future of gaming as it has so much to offer and is a relatively untapped market at the moment. Rather than thinking of it being the next big thing, it’s probably more like the next next big thing and Google and Microsoft are simply laying down the foundations for what could be a very interesting future for the gaming industry.

It makes perfect sense for Google to be getting in on the ground floor and leading the next gaming revolution rather than trying to push themselves into an already saturated gaming console market where they don’t have the experience or ability to create a Playstation or Xbox killer. Instead, going straight for cloud gaming, they can build up their position in the market and when the mass do turn to cloud streaming, they’re already good to go!

Only time will tell!

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