With advances in computing and broadband technology, cloud gaming has become more prevalent than ever before, and it is believed that it will soon become the only way that we’ll ever play games. The general idea behind this concept is that we will no longer require gaming computers or consoles with powerful hardware, as most of that computing will be handled within the ‘cloud’
Cloud gaming’s basic principle is very much similar to video streaming. To put it into layman’s terms, the cloud-gaming servers run a game and stream the video of the gameplay to you. You then interact with it via any input devices, such as keyboards and controller. Because everything works in the cloud, all that heavy duty computing is no longer the burden for the end user.
With the basic understanding of how it works, it’s time to explore what the possible advantages of this technology will present to gaming:
- Platform Independent
As it is no longer tied to any operating system, cloud gaming allows users to become more platform-independent, playing their games on any device they own, whether it is their smartphones or tablets.
- Minimal hardware cost investment
Traditionally, users would have to resort to acquiring the necessary hardware in order to play these games, but cloud gaming allows them to only rely on having a simple set-up box and controller.
- Instant Access
Installation becomes a thing of the past, as cloud gaming allows to access these games almost instantly, as it is already being run in the server.
- Digital Rights Management
While this benefits the publisher more, the difficulty in piracy might encourage them to pass on the benefits to the end user through cheaper titles and more releases in the long run.
That said, there are issues that cloud gaming need to resolve becomes it becomes more widespread
This is easily the biggest obstacle to this technology and is unavoidable. Processing the input over the Internet which will then be rendered and compressed before it is sent back to you will take some considerable amount of time.
Just like any consumption of data, cloud gaming requires a fairly large amount of bandwidth. For users with a quota to look out for, this becomes a big issue that could end up being costly.
While the technology is firmly in place, the adoption is understandably not wide spread, with the most well know name being OnLive. Even then its user base peaked at about 1800 users last year, so it’s clear the consumers aren’t quite ready just yet. Still OnLive’s existence does hint at a brighter future for cloud gaming, as it’s managed to dampen the disadvantages that are associated with this technology, namely latency. Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai does show that there are big names willing to back up cloud gaming, so it’s expected the technology will only improve from there on out.
It’s hard to see what the future holds for this technology; though it’s unlikely cloud gaming will replace dedicated gaming devices. However, an alternative in the consumption of these video games is always welcomed.