In the past few years, you’ve seen a surge of cloud video gaming services from the top companies in the industry. These include Microsoft with their XCloud platform, Nvidia with GeForce Now, and even search engine giant Google with Stadia. These platforms promise a future of consumption through streaming. Why are the gaming giants hedging their bets on the cloud? And do these gaming services work well?
Making Gaming More Accessible
The number one constraint that continues to deprive people of experiencing the fun of video games is hardware. Back in the 80s and 90s, you needed to visit the arcade and dump a few pennies in to play the latest releases. Fast-forward to today, and the same problem still exists. But it’s even more difficult on the wallet. You need the newest console or a powerful gaming PC to run this year’s most recent and popular titles.
This issue is why cloud gaming projects exist. They eliminate the need to buy expensive hardware just to run games. You rent the processing power from servers a thousand miles away. They’ll run and stream your game to you for a monthly subscription. You only need a device (even a smartphone will do) to install the software on, an Internet connection, and a controller to experience the latest and best titles.
Keeping Up with Cloud Game Data
If you own a recently made console or even play the latest mobile games, you’ll notice that they have options to save your game data on the cloud. This information can be your save files, screenshots, and even the full game files themselves. You often see this feature on online marketplaces like Nintendo eShop, Steam, Epic Games Store, and more. Developers have already sunk a lot of their Amazon AWS coupons to get gigabytes upon gigabytes of cloud storage space to make your game data accessible from the Internet.
However, if you want to import your games and save files to a new device, you need to download it. This might take minutes to hours, depending on your connection and the size of the data. If your gaming platform is already on the cloud, there’s no need to download anything at all. Just choose a title from your library and start playing in a few seconds.
Are We There Yet?
The benefits of cloud-based gaming are great. However, it has significant issues that developers need to work on before everyone can use it. While streaming videos on Youtube and Netflix are relatively easy now, it’s not the same for games. This is because there’s still noticeable input lag.
Input lag means that when you push a button on your controller, it takes time for the game to register the input. Your button press has to be received by the streaming platform, which then sends it to the game. The game responds, and the streaming platform has to send it back to you.
There’s so much data that goes back and forth between you and the server that streaming games can be a nightmare for people with a slow internet connection. Google recommends a minimum of 10 megabytes per second (MBPS) connection for a stable experience using Stadia, which can still cost a lot for the average consumer.
Cloud gaming allows you to experience video games with cutting-edge graphics and gameplay without the equally cutting-edge hardware. Plus, its subscription is relatively affordable. Stadia costs about $10 per month, while GeForce Now can be accessed for as low as $4.99 a month.
However, the single problem of input lag makes it an unviable choice for today’s gamers, especially those who can’t afford hyper-fast fiberoptic Internet connections yet. ‘Til this issue is fixed, players can only dream of being free from the shackles of recommended hardware specifications and hours worth of game downloads.