Nowadays, the word “streaming” is well known to almost all people due to such services as Netflix, Amazon, etc. For example, Netflix has more than 148 million subscribers worldwide, it is the undisputed leader among the providers of video content based on streaming media. Such a stunning success of this business model attracted the attention of the gaming industry representatives. That is why cloud gaming services began to appear on the market, with the help of which it became possible to play the most modern games even on old computers. In this article, we will take a closer look at what it is, how it works and does it have a future?
What is cloud gaming and what can it be like?
Advantages and disadvantages of cloud gaming
A bit of history
Modern cloud gaming services
1. What is cloud gaming and what can it be like?
Well, cloud gaming provides an opportunity for people who do not have powerful computers to play absolutely any video games. The matter is that games are launched on the servers of companies that provide this service, and the video is broadcast in streaming mode. Users have the ability to control the characters on their own devices, while all commands are processed on the server, and the user sees his game on the screen live.
There are three main principles of cloud gaming technology work:
- Video streaming
The user sends commands from his device to the server, where they are processed and performed. The player controls his character remotely, and the game itself is “underway” on the server. The streaming video rendering of a game is also produced on cloud services, which makes it possible to get the highest quality graphics on any device. To play comfortably, a stable internet connection is needed (at least 20 Mbit/s).
- Streaming commands
In this case, all commands are also processed on the remote server, but the video is rendered using the video card of the user’s device. A high-speed Internet is not needed for a comfortable game, but to play at the maximum graphics settings is possible only if the player has a productive GPU.
- File Streaming
To start the game, the user needs to download a small number of game files to his device (no more than 5%), and the rest of the data will be transmitted in the background. To play modern games using File Streaming, a powerful computer is needed, so this method is not particularly popular.
In addition, cloud gaming services can be divided into two types: the first have their own catalog of games, and the second – does not.
2. Advantages and disadvantages of cloud gaming
- No need to buy a gaming computer or console.
- Instant start of games.
- No binding to a single device, it is possible to play anywhere in the world where there is the Internet.
- Support for different operating systems.
- All passage data is stored in the cloud.
Among the disadvantages of cloud gaming, it is possible to distinguish only per-minute billing. But, in fairness, it is worth noting that only those users who play very little will have to pay for each minute of the game. For more active players, there is a possibility to purchase a monthly or even annual subscription, which will help to save a lot.
3. A bit of history
The concept of cloud gaming was first announced back in 2000 at the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) exhibition by the G-cluster company from Japan. But at that time it was impossible to launch this technology in full scale because of the lack of suitable infrastructure. In those years Internet speed left much to be desired, so the idea was postponed for some time.
The first large service that started providing cloud gaming services in 2009 was the OnLive project. The creators of the company wanted to make a real revolution in the gaming industry, but, unfortunately, their plans did not come true.
So, the full launch of the OnLive platform took place in 2010. Here, users could buy different games, as well as play them without the need to install on their own devices. Initially, the monthly subscription to the service was $14.95 (excluding the cost of games). But just a few months after the launch, OnLive management changed the business model – they decided to provide their users with unlimited access to the library of games for only $9.99 per month. In addition, the company has released its personal gaming console, through which users have the opportunity to play directly from their televisions. Two years later, the company launched a new service OnLiveDesklop, through which users have the opportunity to play with tablets.
From the side, it seemed that OnLive was doing well, until in August 2012 the project creators fired absolutely all of their employees without paying severance payments. After that, it became clear that the company had financial difficulties from the very beginning. According to former employees, the real number of users who were online at the same time did not exceed 1600 people. Although the company itself claimed that the number of players was 2.5 million, of which 1.5 million were active. But as it turned out, these numbers were incorrect, as the OnLive management counted absolutely all the people who registered a free account. As a result, the company lost $5 million every month, and then it went bankrupt.
4. Modern cloud gaming services
In 2018, major technology companies began to seriously turn their attention to the cloud gaming industry. For example, in May last year, it became known that the company Electronic Arts (the largest distributor of video games in the US) bought a startup Gamefly, which just specializes in cloud gaming. The main goal of this acquisition is to expand the capabilities of its service Origin.
In the fall of 2018, Google Inc. specialists began testing their new Google Project Stream product, which allows playing directly in the browser itself. The first game that was available in this service is Assassins Creed Odyssey from Ubisoft company. The beta testing process ended just a few months ago, namely in January of this year. It is worth noting that Google was very pleased with the results of this test. At the same time, representatives of Ubisoft stated that they do not have an exclusive contract with Google in the field of cloud gaming. Based on this information, it appears that other technology companies are also cooperating with Ubisoft in this direction.
We want to remind you:
Last month, Google officially introduced its own service, Stadia. The corporation claims that on their platform, users will be able to play at 4K and 60 FPS resolution, and in the future 8K and 120 FPS. A full-scale launch is scheduled for this year, but nothing is known about the price of a subscription.
In October 2018, it became known that the brainchild of Bill Gates, Microsoft is also going to enter this market with its product – Project xCloud. It is worth noting that the company began working in this direction in 2013, but only now there is a real opportunity to launch a full-scale cloud gaming service.
In early 2019, it became known that companies such as Amazon and Verizon are going to launch their own solutions in this area.
It is important to understand that from a technical point of view, games streaming is much more difficult than video files streaming, that is why the first players in this market failed. Nowadays, the trend has changed, and the mass interest of the largest technology companies in this area is an excellent confirmation of this. It is difficult to say whether cloud gaming can take a dominant position in the gaming industry yet, everything will depend on the price and quality of the services provided.
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