As always, there is a ton of buzz surrounding this weekend’s upcoming E3 announcements, and one of the bigger themes this year may be the intention to expand and improve upon the availability and functionality of cloud gaming services. Google’s game streaming service Stadia will be releasing in November and Microsoft’s xCloud is currently in closed beta. Both are expected to reveal much more about their plans to enter the cloud gaming world, and Netflix could possibly be getting in the game as well.
Cloud gaming, or a user’s ability to instantly access and play PC and console games via internet streaming, already exists through a few major companies. Sony and Nvidia currently offer subscription cloud gaming services through Playstation Now and GeForce NOW, respectively, although their game libraries are somewhat lacking due to licensing and platform limitations. Other cloud gaming services such as Vortex and have existed as early as 2015 and seem to be expanding rapidly. Amazon and Apple are also in the online gaming development process at the moment – because of course they are.
Although the success of the current cloud-based gaming experience has not yet been notable enough to cause a monumental change in the gaming industry, it’s possible that with other large companies jumping on board and pushing forward, we might be in for a whole different gaming arena in the coming years.
So What’s Good About Cloud Gaming?
The ability to access your favorite games from anywhere at any time is the number one contributor to the appeal of cloud gaming. While digital game libraries such as Steam, Origin, and even Discord have been keeping our games organized and ready for us for many years, they may not quite compete with the delivery of instant access to any game you feel like playing.
With cloud-based gaming being streamlined, it may rid users of the need to have a fancy rig in order to play, sending all the hard work to huge servers. The cloud gaming service Shadow, for example, describes itself as “a high-end gaming computer, without the hardware” and will play your owned games from almost any device with the high performance of a constantly upgraded gaming rig. With this sort of technology (and looking at the upgrades I want to make to my own computer), it’s going to be tough for people to say no.
Is Cloud Gaming Really The Future?
It seems so. I personally have my doubts about whether it could actually overtake console or PC gaming to a point where no one would turn back, though. There are hundreds of thousands of diehard console and PC gamers, and cloud gaming does have its limitations in a professional or competitive environment (not to mention, an internet outage or just a dip in your connection would kill it). I do feel as though casual gamers will jump on the ease of use and accessibility. And some players, hardcore or otherwise, may utilize both. Because games are fun to play no matter the platform.
What Do You Think?
I would love to hear your thoughts on the future of cloud gaming and whether you feel it will be a massive game-changer (pun intended) or a wasted effort. When eBooks were first made widely available, I remember being terrified it would make real books disappear, but of course that wasn’t the case. And while I’m not a huge fan of cloud based anything, I am interested to see where this technology takes us either way.