The Rising of Cloud Gaming: My views
- Life, IT and Video Games - Part 1/6
- The Boom of The Cloud - Part 2/6
- Game On and Heads Up! - Part 3/6
- From your Room to the Data Center - Part 4/6
- Google Stadia and Beyond - Part 5/6
- Cloudy Games - Part 6/6 ⇐ You are Here.
Leaders and Challengers
Ok, Google Stadia is “the new kid on the cloud gaming” but doesn’t mean it’s the less mature. Google has been working on Stadia for many years, and they have many important things to offer (Part 5). Google has the experience, the infrastructure, and the advantage of being one of the tech giants; Google Stadia has a significant chance to become the dominant player in this industry.
However there are a lot of competitors, some of them already well-positioned on this race, and other more will start unveiling their weaponry soon. Since I am not working for a gaming magazine and there are many of these “players,” let’s just start quoting things 😛
Shadow. “Forget about hardware: Shadow is a full Windows computer you can access through a simple app. Enjoy your high-end remote computer on any platform you want” [Source]
Note: More about Shadow in part 4 of these series.
PlayStation Now. “Enjoy 750+ Games On-Demand. PS Now delivers unlimited access to a growing library of over 750 PS4, PS3, and PS2 games, all with one subscription. Stream directly to your PS4 or PC, and download PS4 & PS2 games to your PS4.”
I think that PlayStation is doing well because it's business model doesn’t stand only on PlayStation Now streaming service but in the PlayStation console itself. For now, PlayStation Now it's just like an add-on that you decided whether to use it or not.
GeForce NOW. "Why limit yourself to just one way to game when you can have multiple options in one device? Blockbuster titles, online multiplayer, action adventure, and even family favorites—all played from the comfort of your couch. SHIELD TV also includes instant access to the high-demand GeForce NOW beta game streaming service, which will forever change the way you game." [Source]
More about these well-positioned players here.
Upcoming Cool Players
Project xCloud. “Project xCloud is about providing gamers — whether they prefer console or PC — new choices in when and where they play, while giving mobile-only players access to worlds, characters and immersive stories they haven’t been able to experience before.” [Source]
Amazon. Amazon is next! “Amazon is putting together a game streaming service that will beam titles from the cloud right to your devices, so you can play without installing them, or even owning a powerful machine to run them.” [Source]
Orion cloud gaming. “Bethesda Softworks has announced a software platform that’s supposed to dramatically improve cloud gaming performance. The system, called Orion, could be added to a wide variety of games across different game streaming services. Bethesda promises that it will give players a higher-quality experience that’s accessible on slower internet speeds, and it’s opening a limited beta test later this year.” [Source]
Paperspace. “Never buy a new desktop again. Run any game on your new Paperspace cloud gaming machine.” [Source]
Vortex. “Play any PC game from the Vortex library right now, on your browser, TV, laptop or phone - cloud gaming anywhere!” [Source]
Parsec. “Cloud gaming unlocks the power of a GPU gaming PC on any device. With Parsec, you have the choice of several hardware providers across the entire world. We focus on making sure you have the lowest latency, 60FPS streaming available.” [Source]
There are a lot more… for the full list of cloud gaming and game streaming services, take a look here.
A Random Pioneer
Ubitus GameCloud is a Taiwan-based company that claims to be one of the pioneers in Cloud Gaming; since 2007, they say. What I believe is that they started working with cloud computing first (from 2007), and then they eventually move to Cloud Gaming. In May of 2010, they announced with a press release (PR) that they had been working on Cloud Gaming already (at least, that's what I can see from their webpage), then they have been improving their solution with emerged new technologies.
What the company says: “Ubitus, a leading pioneer in cloud gaming since 2007, operates as the largest GPU cloud provider in Japan. Leveraging its large GPU infrastructure, Ubitus offers two services: Cloud gaming for game companies and AI-related services for AI-based companies that require GPUs for heavy AI computation workloads via Ubitus’ GPU-as-a-Service (GaaS). Using Microsoft Azure’s global presence, Ubitus is expanding globally beyond the Asian market to deliver innovation and value to customers.”
I am not sure what is gonna happen to this “pioneer” company but from my humble and personal point of view (as in all these posts), some Taiwan companies tend to go wrong on Marketing. Even having a fantastic product, these companies fail to develop a final elegant solution to their target customers. Just look at this company’s website, you cannot approach to the USA and Europe market having a 90s-looking website.
I just went off-topic! I could spend some time writing about this, but it’s not the point of this post, maybe in another future blog post.
In part 3 of these series, I mentioned what I believe is a major concern for this industry; the gaming adoption of the “real gamers.” Besides that, I genuinely believe that the biggest challenge of this internet-based billion-dollar industry is the internet itself.
High Latency or ping = Lag. Ok, graphics are important, but graphics are not supposed to be a problem since these services are offering to play games at 4K resolution, and even 8K shortly. The biggest challenge for these companies is internet speed, even more challenging, a high latency.
What is causing this frustrating lag experience is the physical distance from the server running the game, the quality of the internet infrastructure in general, video encoding, and transmission. Google has streaming expertise, and other companies have dedicated consoles, thin clients, and algorithms to fight the latency issues; we'll need to wait to see what is the outcome.
This lag thing must be carefully considered on video games; most gamers are even resistant to use a wireless mouse, due to it will cause (a minimum) additional response time to their offline games, how this can work well for fully wireless and always-connected gaming experience?
Initial Coverage. Third-World countries should wait to benefits from these gaming platforms; the same reason as in the previous point, poor internet connection with high latency will be an issue. Probably the same cause holding Desktop Virtualization and Cloud Computing to have a significant impact in countries of Latin American and Africa. If gaming anywhere isn't enjoyable, I assume offline games will prevail for a long time in these areas.
Misunderstood Costs. These are not hidden costs since you know already what are you paying, though the additional games or the streaming services costs, you still need to consider funding an excellent internet connection to make your game experience enjoyable or even acceptably playable. If you already have and pay for fast-speed internet service, then no worries, but be aware of data caps.
The minimal requirement for optimal performance is 15Mb/s. In developed countries, 40Mb/s can be the average internet speed, yet an additional cost will arise to enjoy the gaming platform.
The service is not about not reducing cost by removing the price tag of some games; for some people, you still need to have your own expensive “personal infrastructure” and services highly capable of reaching that other infrastructure that you don't own.
Note: Data Caps are mentioned in part 5 of these series.
Adoption. Same as mobile games are attracting "new gamers,” young and old generations, Cloud Gaming is going to do the same. But companies should be aware of the “true games,” the PC master race, and the renegades who still want to have full device ownership.
Note: More about this in part 3 of these series.
5G, A Game-Changer
For an industry that is going to be so dependent on the internet speed, the network connectivity needs to evolve quickly to provide a stable connection and low latency. 5G is going to be a game-changer.
5G is not only affecting the horizon of the cloud gaming industry, but it’s also going to set the rules of all the technologies running through the internet; it's going to be a real game-changer for The Internet Of Things (IoT).
In the current 4G network stage, if I am at home in any of my rooms, I will still prefer to download and play an offline (singleplayer) game to avoid any latency worries. 5G won’t double or triple the network speed (comparing with 4G), it is going to be faster, way faster! So fast that you could download a movie in a finger snap, in about 10 seconds, with nearly 1ms latency.
Because of this speed, is what I believe this cloud gaming industry (and many others) can succeed. First, 5G intended to be used on any device, anywhere; It’s mainly intended for the mobiles. But even better, 5G could quickly become the ultimate internet service needed, and we could say good-bye to regular Internet Service Providers (ISP) that need to be installed per home (on-premises) basis.
5G is important. 5G is going to be a game-changer for cloud gaming. Maybe, Google will ask for help from Huawei on this one? 😀 🙄
Game of Clouds
It’s too soon to tell if cloud gaming truly will change the outlook of the video games industry, but we’ll probably find out when Google Stadia, Microsoft’s Project xCloud, and other players arrive soon. In the meantime, three cloud gaming services are already out in front of the competition: PlayStation Now, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Shadow. Which service will claim the throne?
The other questions are: It’s cloud gaming a replacement of a gaming console? Are really the days of PC gaming numbered?
Of course, time will tell, these are predictions. As an example, VDI (Part 4) has been waiting to have “its year” for over a decade; seems that finally, it’s going to happen, but many technologies and improvements had to arise to make this “yearly-changed” prediction to come true eventually. The same will happen to cloud gaming, for now, the deal-breaker is internet speed, latency, and data caps, but 5G is just around the corner.
If all these candidates play smart, attacking some current business concerns, all of them will have a great chance to contend for the lucrative and “fluffy” royal seat. On the other hand, if these players don't take the challenges, gamer's needs, and the most important, an excellent gaming experience seriously, they are going to end up disappointing its audience; similar to what a famous TV show *cough* Game of Thrones *cough* did on their final seasons.
“Gamers should be able to take the experience with them in their living rooms, on the go, when they travel – wherever they are and whenever they want to play. It should be the same software and the same experience.”
Hideo Kojima, April 7, 2010