In the past, people used to rent discs of movies and dramas from shops. When we stepped into the age of the Internet, VOD (video on demand) system entered the sight of the public. Now, the similar evolution is happening to the game industry by introducing cloud gaming. The concept of cloud gaming refers to running games on remote servers and stream them to users’ devices. This service is based on cloud computing, sharing information, hardware, and software resources based on the users’ demands. It is firstly brought to the public by a company called OnLive in 2010. (Shiels, 2010) In the past decades, cloud gaming isn’t making a loud noise for the public to notice. But it may be the game changer in the future gaming industry. With the brand-new protocol of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, the public is enjoying the fastest and most stable Internet services in the history. With such background, it may be the opportunity for cloud gaming to challenge the traditional PC and console industry now.
Video games need to be run on platforms, including personal computers, gaming consoles, and smart phones. High quality and popular games usually required platforms with rather high configuration. For computers, the public may need to spend extra hundreds of dollars to upgrade their machines in order to make the game running. And for consoles, buying the certain console is surely the stepping stone, but consoles also cost people hundreds of dollars. After spending money on making preparation, you can now buy games, 40-50 dollars each. You see, becoming a gamer isn’t that easy and cheap. This background is making smart phone games more popular than PC and console ones. People are not willing to spend so much only on device anymore. To change this situation. OnLive has brought Cloud Gaming to the public first in 2010. This was the genesis of this innovation. Cloud gaming is based on cloud computing. The nature of cloud computing is sharing information, software, and hardware resources on demand. VOD services is quite similar to cloud gaming. However, data in VOD is transmitted in a single way after viewers making the demand. For example, I ordered Harry Potter on Netflix, so Netflix is transmitting the movie to my device. The net speed would only affect the quality of the image. Cloud gaming is a little more complex. Most of the games are
interactive, so that the data is transmitting from and to both sides. Higher net speed would
Image credit: nVidia
decrease the latency between you actions and the image you are receiving. Cloud gaming is a part of historical trends in information technology since it is shaped by cloud computing and realized by the improvements in communication technologies. To learn more about how cloud gaming feels now, you can check out the video below. https://youtu.be/d3dNoCRzbAs
The most obvious ones who are benefitting from the innovation of cloud gaming is gamers who do not own a lot of money for paying personal computers of gaming consoles. And the core group may be students. According to Opera GX’s 2020 report on gamers’ behaviors, attitudes, and segments, 86% of the gamers are between 13-24 years old. (Opera GX, 2020)
Image credit: Opera GX
And most of them are still students. Their identities have made it difficult for them to pay hundreds of dollars just for entertainment. Cloud gaming would reduce their cost to try on newest games in great performances. Asides from social sense, there are ones being benefited from cloud gaming’s transformative effects from political and economic senses as well. Countries which own a great number of services in cloud gaming and cloud computing may have advantages on the negotiating table. The nature of cloud is sharing. But countries may decide whether to share the information and the resources or not. From economic senses, Internet providers may face opportunities and threats. Operators with more stable and quicker network services may be more favored by consumers, since cloud gaming requires significant data centers and internet connections with high bandwidth and low latency. (Chen, 2014) Cloud gaming industry is still developing. However, once it enters its maturity, great challenges may be brought to hardware producers like Nvidia and Sony. With data centers, users no longer need buying expensive personal computers and gaming consoles. To prevent this from happening and reduce their loss in the future, Nvidia and Sony has bought and presented their own cloud gaming services, Geforce Now and Playstation Now. (Hollister, 2019)
As a gamer, cloud gaming is already affecting me. As a college student who studies abroad, it is unrealistic for me to carry around a desktop PC. They are heavy and fragile. All I got is a decent laptop, not for gaming though. I checked Nvidia’s Geforce Now and it solved all my problems. As long as my laptop is with me and there is a nice Internet connection, I can launch my games anywhere. Also, it saved my wallet as well, giving me extra hundreds of dollars. However, there is a problem with it. It is too strict with the Internet connection. A little fluctuation in network would cause obvious latency in game, which feels quite bad. As a student, I used to learn Chemistry. Sometimes when I need to simulate chemical reactions, my computer cannot deal with it. Inspired by cloud gaming, I used a cloud server to run the simulations and get the result. One big issue of cloud gaming and cloud computing may be the protection of user data. Once a server is being hacked, thousands of users’ personal information may be leaked. Risks exist in cloud services.
To conclude, cloud gaming is based on cloud computing, and realized by the improvement in communication technologies. Its appearance is the trend of communication media and information management. This innovation has benefitted Internet providers and data center owners like Microsoft and Google. Cloud gaming has shown the world how super computers can be brought to ordinary ones with the help of high speed Internet. Not only gaming, works with high requirements can be achieved by similar process, like airflow and chemical simulations. Nowadays, 5G, times faster than 4G, is dominating the market gradually. We shall expect bright new future brought by communication and information technologies. Cloud gaming is just a head start of the new era.
- Shiels, M. (2010). ‘Console killer’ OnLive to launch in June. Retrieved 29 October 2020, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8556874.stm
- Opera GX. (2020). 2020 REPORT on gamers’ behaviours, attitudes, and segments (p. 38). Opera GX. Retrieved from https://opera-website-cdn-production.s3.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com/content/Opera-GX-2020-Report.pdf
- Chen, K. (2014). On the Quality of Service of Cloud Gaming Systems – IEEE Journals & Magazine. Retrieved 1 November 2020, from https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6670099/ doi:10.1109/TMM.2013.2291532. S2CID 6315663.
- Hollister, S. (2019). How Sony bought, and squandered, the future of gaming. Retrieved 1 November 2020, from https://www.theverge.com/2019/12/5/20993828/sony-playstation-now-cloud-gaming-gaikai-onlive-google-stadia-25th-anniversary