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Head in the Clouds: The Future of Cloud Gaming

Posted In Games - By Techtiplib on Wednesday, August 7th, 2019 With No Comments »

In June, the world’s largest gaming convention, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 for short), was streamed from the 9th to the 11th.  These days were the days that the biggest gaming companies could reveal what’s in store for the next year or two.  Out of all of these, Microsoft was the show that ended up stealing the spotlight.

Sure, I could go on about the couple dozen games that were teased and revealed at their show, or the reveal of Project Scarlett, their next-gen Xbox console, but I won’t.  Instead, I want to focus on a service that Microsoft talked about at the show:  Project xCloud.

Project xCloud is Microsoft’s step into the relatively unexplored territory of cloud gaming.  Wait, slow down!  What even is cloud gaming?  How does it work?  Is it just a gimmick?

1.  Like a Cirrus: Defining Cloud Gaming

The conventional gaming experience requires you to pay for a video game console or computer, plug it all up, and then purchase the games you want.  Gaming has always been relatively expensive and a pain when it comes to organizing your library of games.  However, cloud gaming aims to solve those problems.  Sort of.

Cloud gaming isn’t a new concept, but one that has only recently become viable.  As long as you have a decent Internet connection, that is.

Just like Netflix or Spotify, cloud gaming offers you a way to play video games without having to purchase any extra hardware.  Do you need a radio with Spotify?  Only as much as you need a DVD player with Netflix.

2.  The Pioneers of Cloud Gaming

As of now, only two companies are attempting to bring cloud gaming to the mainstream: Microsoft and Google.  Microsoft has their aforementioned Project xCloud, releasing in October, and Google has their hardware-cloud hybrid known as Google Stadia, releasing in November

Project xCloud is structured how you would expect, with a subscription being offered to access the cloud and the games in it.  With a subscription, you’ll be able to play the library that Microsoft offers, though it will only work on mobile devices in the beginning, with support for TVs and PC’s coming later.

Google Stadia is a bit more interesting because of its required hardware.To access Stadia, you need to purchase the Google Stadia Founders Edition, which comes with three months of Stadia Pro, a Stadia controller, and a Chromecast Ultra.

Stadia Pro is one of the two tiers of the subscription, allowing 4K, 60fps gameplay.  The controller is, well, a controller, and the Chromecast Ultra is the device that allows Stadia to operate.

Even if you need the Chromecast, the service is nothing to scoff at.  Promising a traditional gameplay experience at 4K with no lag is a big promise to make, but if pulled off, Google has a money-maker on their hands.  And Google has experience with the cloud, from their VPN to Google One, so they (hopefully) know what they’re doing.

Speaking of VPNs, if you’re one that regular games with a VPN, you can still do that when cloud gaming. Be it for privacy protection, server connection, or anti-throttling, using a VPN when gaming has been a widespread practice. If you’re just hearing about this for the first time, research free VPN trials online to get on the bandwagon.

3.  But Will Cloud Gaming Last?

I’ve consulted my crystal ball and it says “Yes.”

Jokes aside, the future of cloud gaming rides on the launches of Project xCloud and Google Stadia.  If these services, fail, it’s possible that cloud gaming will be forgotten until another company attempts it again a decade later.If this sounds familiar, may I point you to Nintendo’s Virtual Boy and it’s failure delaying VR for a few years?

On the other hand, gaming may fundamentally change if Google and Microsoft succeed.  Their success would indicate that dependence on hardware is one that is fading away.  In two, three decades, cloud gaming could become the norm.  However, this is all speculation.

As of now, the main factors determining the success of cloud gaming are as follows:

  • Latency
  • Reliability
  • Game Library

Both companies promise an ever-growing library, and Google promises traditional experiences that rival normal gaming sessions.  If both companies are telling the truth, then I see cloud gaming earning a spot in the future of the industry.  Tech itself is moving to the clouds, gaming might as well join.

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