Gaming as a Service

Gaming as a Service

Almost every form of digital entertainment now has a streaming platform from which you can access content. At the slightest of whims, you can listen to your favourite music and watch your favourite tv or films using cloud services like Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify. So why is gaming lagging so far behind?

The obvious answer is that games are substantially more complex in terms of file size and computing required and so current technology does not allow for it. The big players do have semi-mobile solutions already available, but neither are ‘on demand’ as you must already ‘own’ the title and have it installed. Xbox Anywhere allows you to download a game to both your Xbox and PC, after which you can seamlessly switch between devices and pick up from where you left off. Using a laptop as the PC breaks the bonds tying you to your immobile Xbox giving you the freedom to game wherever you want. However, you do still need a laptop powerful enough to run the game, so in truth it is more PC gaming rather than ‘Xbox Anywhere’. On the other hand, PlayStation offers Remote. A solution that allows you to live stream to any PlayStation or Sony Xperia device while you are connected to the same broadband as your PlayStation console. While this does mean you can stream to your device, you are confined to your home and need the game to be installed on your console.

So, how soon will it be until we have true, real-time on demand streaming? Nvidia, the GPU company, are launching Nvidia Grid, which promises to be ‘revolutionary cloud gaming technology’. Grid will render the game in its cloud server and then stream the results to any connected device. Again, no promises of timeline. In fairness, as a consumer, you are unlikely to purchase the service directly from Nvidia, you will experience the Grid through one of their partners and so the ambiguous ‘soon’ is understandable.

Personally, I think Microsoft are leading the race. There are signs to show they will soon have everything in place to launch a subscription-based real-time on demand gaming service. Firstly, Xbox have released the ‘Xbox game pass’ a subscription service which, in exchange for a monthly fee, grants you access to over 100 titles. To be honest, the library is lacking and I would not be surprised if they have had little take up. However, this shows Microsoft are putting the infrastructure in place to move towards a subscription based payment model. Secondly, Xbox are soon to release Crackdown 3. You might wonder why this game means so much and you might be right, but in the grand scheme of gaming, it could be revolutionary. Crackdown is on track to be the first game released to leverage the full might of Microsoft’s very own cloud service, Azure. Crackdown’s online multi-player will utilise Azure to render a ‘truly massive destructible world’. The use of the cloud allows for rendering far beyond the capabilities of a single machine.

Now imagine if, and it is a big if, Azure works as is planned and Crackdown multiplayer is a spectacle of seamless high-quality gaming. Then it is easy to see how Microsoft are only a couple of steps away from being able to provide a mass subscription cloud-based gaming service, a Netflix of the gaming world. Probably still another year or two away, but it is right around the corner and when it comes, it is set to be a game changer.

Author: Christopher Braithwaite

The founder of TMTalks, Christopher, is based in the United Kingdom and writes for the site in his free time. Particular areas of interest include Space, energy, cyber security and block-chain technology.

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