How many times have you booted up your PC to play the latest big release, only to be greeted by a sluggish, barely playable mess when you realise that your graphics card is about 6 months behind the curve? Or how often have you been tempted to splash out hundreds on a brand new games console just rot play ONE game that your current, outdated hardware isn’t capable of running? Cloud-based gaming could spell the end of such dilemmas.
What is Cloud Game Streaming?
Traditional games consoles (even the modern like of the PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One) still operate on a basis of playing a game using the processing power of the device situated underneath your television. These devices will undoubtedly run out of steam eventually and will be unable to play the latest games even a few years after release. Cloud gaming, however, circumvents traditional local processing problems by instead processing the actual game in a centralised server and then streaming the footage back to the player at home.
The First Attempts
Of course, cloud game streaming is far from a completely original concept. Indeed, many companies have tried (and failed) in the past to gather mainstream traction with the technology, but the bandwidth was simply not capable enough to support the ambition of projects such as Crytek’s OnLive service when it launched in 2010. Sony tried to jump on the bandwagon a few years later with their ambitious Playstation Now service, which works on a subscription service and gives gamers access to hundreds of vintage PS3 games, but these are old games that don’t require that much processing power. The real potential lies in utilising the technology to play and stream the latest games in a manner simply not possible outside of the most intensive, expert PC gaming rigs. Services like NVIDIA GEFORCE Now are leading the charge, but they still have a mountain to conquer.
The Pros and Cons
PRO – A system that allows you to play all new games as the developers intended without having to upgrade your hardware.
CON – Your internet connection must be incredibly fast (100mbps at an absolute minimum), but decent ethernet cables from RS should keep downtime to a minimum.
PRO – A subscription service might represent better value for money for casual gamers or those that like to play more than one game at a time.
CON – Your experience depends completely on the ISPs and could lead to higher consumer costs when it comes to faster bandwidth.
In the immediate future, it’s not unreasonable to pontificate that cloud gaming will adopt the Netflix model, with gamers paying a subscription fee that allows them access to a vast gaming library whereas they are on a variety of disparate platforms. However, top-tier gaming requires a much larger bandwidth than streaming movies and TV, to the extent that it’s still not feasible for most households.
However, with blockchain technology becoming more commonplace and average broadband and 4G/5G network speeds increasing year-by-year, a future where we can reliably stream our games like we stream our movies is within our reach.