With the imminent launch of Google’s cloud gaming platform Stadia, Riello UPS Marketing and Communications Manager Barry Jarvis explores whether we are any closer to success in our elusive pursuit of a “Netflix for video games”
The cloud gaming market is set to become a pretty crowded field over the coming months. Established platforms such as PlayStation Now and Shadow will soon face competition from all of the tech titans.
Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud are approaching their official launch, while Amazon is reportedly building a service that will include live-streaming app Twitch along with its AWS cloud infrastructure. Rumour has it even Walmart will soon join the party.
With an audience of more than 2.3 billion gamers worldwide, it’s understandable why there’s such a clamour from all these companies. According to Statista, the market for cloud gaming rose from $45 million in 2017 to $66 million in 2018, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. By 2023, this figure is projected to top $450 million.
Cloud gaming is, in essence, live streaming for video games. The actual game is stored, executed, and rendered on the games company’s servers, rather than downloaded onto the player’s own PC or console.
This makes owning – or continuously upgrading – the hardware irrelevant. It means gamers can play across several devices and locations. And it gives them the opportunity to “try before they buy” new games in an instant without having to download content.
Another false dawn?
The concept of a “Netflix or Spotify for gaming” isn’t anything new. But unlike films, TV shows, or music, which are relatively passive experiences – i.e. choose the song, playlist, programme, or film, then sit back and relax – games are far more dynamic.
They require the two-way interaction of a player sending inputs to the cloud while simultaneously receiving video and audio back from the server. This makes cloud gaming much more dependent on the quality and speed of internet connection, which is why it’s proved such a tough nut to crack so far.