E3 is arguably the most important game exhibition of the year and while I’m excited about a number of games (you have got to check out the trailer for Cyberpunk 2077), I’m more excited about the prospect of playing high-end games without an equally high-end powerful gaming PC or console.
How? Cloud gaming.
Cloud gaming isn’t new. Sony offers PlayStation Now in the US, which streams games to a player’s device and has been doing so since 2014. However, PlayStation Now has some restrictions in that it requires gamers to either have a PS4 or PC. Additionally, some players have complained about erratic gameplay due to dropped or slow connections.
So why take another crack at it now? The reasons are quite simple. Technology has gotten better. It is now more efficient to have gaming servers and internet speeds have gotten significantly better. Furthermore, thanks to Netflix, Apple Music, and Spotify, consumers are now more open to the idea of paying a monthly fee for streaming services. Kevin Moss, EA’s Chief Technology Officer, said, “The combination of streaming and subscriptions is really going to change the way games are consumed.”
At E3 2018, giants EA and Microsoft both shared plans for cloud gaming services. The idea is to allow gamers to play high-end high-quality games on any devices they want, even on low-power mainstream notebooks and phones as long as they have an internet connection.
EA is currently demonstrating its work-in-progress cloud gaming service at E3 with Titanfall 2 to positive acclaim and Microsoft has announced that it has engineers working on a game streaming network that would “unlock console gaming on any device.”
Taken in this context, cloud gaming makes a lot of sense. Why spend hundreds on a gaming console and then hundreds more on games when you can have all the games you want for a smaller monthly subscription fee? The upsides are plenty. You don’t have to worry about your console breaking down; you have the convenience of being able to play anywhere and on any device; and you can play all the game you want without having to purchase games separately.
It is a win for the service providers and game developers too. A steady stream of revenue via subscriptions is one. And since there’s no longer the need for specialized hardware (aka a gaming PC or console), a potentially larger pool of customers.
Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry), is all for streaming too. In a recent interview with Variety, the Frenchman believes that gamers will only have one more console generation left and thereafter everyone will be streaming.
A gaming revolution is coming and I can’t wait.
Specifications are not everything. It's what you do with what you have that matters.