Cloud gaming is not a new technology, but it is on the way to becoming the next big thing in the gaming industry. Though it got incepted in the 1960s, it struggled to keep up with the innovations in the game industry. These days, when the internet and technology get exponentially faster, cloud gaming is making a comeback. It is likely to become a mainstream trend that is not going away anytime soon.
Let us find out what present progresses say about the future of cloud gaming.
Simply put, the players enjoy an online game on a cloud server in cloud gaming services. They need not download the files on their device to play. A steady internet connection, basic hardware, and a cloud gaming service subscription are required to play the games. The primary objective is to make high-end gaming experiences more accessible and affordable to the masses without upgrading their hardware every time a new game launches.
There are remote servers across the globe that host these games and you get to play them online. There are some basic hardware requirements to engage with the games but you would not need anything high-end or exclusive like gaming consoles. You will play the game online which will be streamed on your device through your internet connection. The minimum hardware requirements vary from one cloud game provider to another. You need to have a system as per the specifications. Everything starting from your game progress to a list of titles gets saved on the server of the cloud gaming service. As it is internet-dependent for streaming, the experience gets disrupted everytime connectivity fails.
Though many feel cloud gaming is the future, it comes with a fair share of advantages and disadvantages. You must understand these factors to enjoy such games and have realistic expectations from them.
The following are the advantages you enjoy when indulging in cloud gaming:
The technology has its limitations too which can hinder a streamlined gaming experience:
Cloud gaming has come a long way, especially as faster internet solutions keep coming up. Let us take a closer look at the progress of the technology before we delve into the future of cloud gaming.
Several major obstacles have hindered cloud gaming technology in the past, and to some extent in the present as well. Here’s what they are:
Though 5G has been introduced, its accessibility across the globe is limited. In many rural areas, there are families with no form of broadband internet access. As a result, a new game on the cloud gaming platform will always have the disadvantage of limited access. However, on an optimistic note, there are several alternate internet solutions accessed across the world. Also, depending on the game, the highest bandwidth of the internet is not always a necessity. Though latency caused by slow internet is a major problem today, it is likely to get more streamlined eventually.
Another issue that has always posed a challenge for cloud gaming is data caps. Before unlimited internet plans came into play, there were monthly data caps even for high-speed internet users. Online games can download data at a rate of 30-35MBps. Playing any high-resolution and graphics-intensive game for an hour can easily draw 7-8GB of data per hour. In a time when standard monthly data caps for personal internet connection were 20-50GB, playing such games was a challenge.
Moreover, charges for additional data every month were also higher. ISPs have become more innovative and flexible in recent times as online streaming became mainstream. Hence, today we can get internet services offering unlimited monthly data which is advantageous for cloud gaming.
Another challenge is rather based on perception as cloud gamers may have a hard time accepting they do not own the games they pay for. They are paying for the license to use it. The problem arises especially when the license or subscription cost is equivalent to owning the physical copy of the game. The lack of absolute ownership was often a hindrance to the cloud gaming future. These days with the advent of online streaming platforms, music apps, and much more, the audience is becoming more open to the concept of digital ownership which can help with the growth of cloud gaming.
At present, the cloud gaming market is witnessing rapid growth. It was valued at USD 1.02 billion in 2022. It gets estimated that cloud gaming will have a CAGR of 45.5% from 2023 to 2030. There is a noteworthy demand for online gaming for a variety of devices ranging from mobiles to consoles. Sony launching PlayStation 5 console with a digital-only variant further points toward the growing need for cloud gaming.
Another noteworthy progress that indicates cloud gaming is the future is Amazon Web Services Inc. investing 35 billion dollars between 2011- 2020 on their data centers in Virginia. These data centers enable a seamless and low-latency gaming experience. Verizon Communication too, has contributed to the growth of the cloud gaming industry. In August 2022, they partnered with Hi-Rez Studios to offer quality mobile gaming tools to the developers that were based on mmWave and C-band 5G network. In short, the promising growth of this industry can prove beneficial for game development companies in the long run.
According to Grand View Research, the U.S. Market CAGR will increase to 43.8% between 2023-2030. The future of cloud gaming relies heavily on game-changing technologies of the present that can potentially become even better in the future. Cloud gaming is empowering to gaming enthusiasts who do not or cannot access high-end hardware and gaming accessories. It not only changes how we play but also makes the most graphic-intensive and challenging games accessible to a wider audience. Here’s what the cloud gaming future may look like:
It will offer better accessibility to a larger number of consumers worldwide. There will be more “traditional non-gamers” showing interest in gaming, solely because it is more convenient, fun, and comparatively inexpensive than getting the latest hardware for gaming. It also means every game development company would invest in developing better projects for the cloud gaming industry.
As of yet, internet connectivity is significantly irregular in many parts of the world. The 5G access is also not available at the remotest corners- even developed countries face trouble with the internet. Cloud gaming services will need to undergo many developments that help them operate even with low-bandwidth unstable internet. At the same time, the Internet is expected to become more widespread and stable in the coming years. Furthermore, the introduction of 6G by 2030, will further streamline cloud gaming.
As cloud gaming gets popular, so will the demand for new cloud gaming services. This would provide great opportunities for every game development studio to come up with new and better titles compatible with the platforms. The consumer base would increase, fuelling the demand for more options apart from the present key players such as NVIDIA GeForce Now, Shadow, PlayStation Now, Amazon Luna, Shadow, NetBoom, and so on.
If there is an abundance in supply as well as demand, it is likely to keep cloud gaming affordable for the masses. It will also increase the competition among the service providers which can lead to lowered prices, more discounts, occasional offers, and so on. All these combined will make more consumers interested to explore cloud gaming.
A player owning a high-end gaming console and hardware is unlikely to tap into cloud gaming because they can already play such games natively. But the number of such gamers is limited. The cloud gaming industry is likely to attract those who enjoy gaming but eventually gave up because upgrading expensive hardware every few years seemed unjustified or beyond their means. It is also likely to get non-traditional gamers interested. These are people who occasionally indulge in gaming as a hobby but are not passionate to dedicate all day to it. Thus, cloud gaming will have a wider reach in terms of the variety of users it can cater to.
While cloud gaming’s future looks bright and can change how gaming is perceived by the masses, it is unlikely to become a substitute for game hardware. According to Paul Tassi, Senior Contributor in Forbes, he has been hearing about the “death of video game hardware for 15 years now and yet PS5 is about to break sales records and become the best-selling system in history.”
Cloud gaming is more likely to become an additional option to the number of ways people can enjoy gaming than become the core method. Especially for avid gamers, even micro-latency can ruin the experience of the game and it is unavoidable when using cloud gaming service with mediocre internet. In short, cloud gaming is still leagues away from offering a streamlined gaming experience as native gaming on compatible hardware. Thus, it is unlikely to replace them even in the distant future.
Cloud Gaming is promising but it is still a work in progress. But with the rapidly changing technology landscape, one can be optimistic that this will become mainstream shortly. However, the cloud gaming industry is more likely to be an extension of the existing gaming market and not a replacement.