Cloud Gaming Special: the future is coming and we are still sleeping

The next generation consoles are upon us, the so-called next-gen, but a silent enemy is approaching: the Cloud Gaming. Streaming the video game from the clouds (cloud ed.) Could decree the end of an era by making any form of physical media obsolete. The major the videogame industry has taken its first steps, even one of the Internet Biggest has joined the race towards the future. What if this future is closer than you expect?

  • Consoles have changed the market
  • The difference between Cloud and Streaming
  • Cloud Gaming
  • The problems of the video game in streaming

Will streaming gaming on any device cause consoles to go extinct?

There is a moment in every evolution that marks the before and after, an event so influential as to change everything forever, the master Kojima he even made a video game about it, commonly called extinguishing event.

Without going into the philosophical, since we are on a site that basically talks about games, this concept can be applied to the market, thus speaking of Disruptive Innovation or Technology. In fact, there are products / services that once released on the market have the effect of a meteorite, extinguishing anyone who does not adapt. For example theiphone di Steve Jobs, after the release on the market completely changed the mobile phone industry in favor of smartphones. The dinosaur companies, historical emhs of the sector, failed to adapt and disappeared completely.

What does this premise have to do with games?

With the games themselves absolutely nothing, it centers on how to take advantage of the videogame content. Even in this market there is a before and after, the arrival of home gaming.

Consoles have been around for more than thirty years now and marked the extinction of arcades in the West around the mid-90s. I hope most of you have had arcade experience and have in mind how a cabin cruiser was big. It was unthinkable at the time that you could play any title at home, but then someone, thanks to technological progress, managed to create a compact machine, which connected to the TV, made you play without tokens. The arrival of the consoles marked the greatest turning point in the history of videogame entertainment, a point of no return, where anyone, money permitting, could have access. 

The arrival of the consoles marked the greatest turning point in the history of videogame entertainment

But why am I making you nostalgic? Exactly why we may be facing one of these events and we are not realizing it. I use the word nostalgic deliberately to speak to the most experienced gamers, those of "who know the 2000 real games", "there are no more games than they used to be" and "in my time every game was a souls", defined millennials . The new generation was born and raised with technology, has not seen it evolve and has a natural predisposition to accept change. They play on mobile phones, on the switch, buy on the stores, take selfies, launch the challenges on Tik Tok but still play and despite this it makes us turn up our noses if they are defined as gamers.

After giving you the old if you are the same age as me, or having illustrated our point of view if you are very young, let's get to the point: Cloud Gaming and Streaming, first of all they are not the same thing.

The difference between Cloud and Streaming

The word streaming became part of the common vocabulary thanks to Netflix e Spotify, but for the purposes of this article we will define it very simply: take advantage of an audio / video content without owning the copy on the medium. The reason for the clarification is necessary to understand how companies are approaching this change.

Streaming a video game can also be done at home for example from PC to TV (Valve's unsuccessful experiment with Steam Link ed.) or from console to tablet. The game is not installed on the device we are actually playing on and is actually running on another machine. If the machine that broadcasts the game is on the internet, we are talking about Cloud Gaming.
This type of technology is in its infancy, the majors in the sector are making great strides and have already released the first attempts on the market, surprisingly even the Internet Biggest are interested in this new technology. 

Home Streaming

To learn more:
Apple wages war on Nintendo thanks to PS4

But before delving into the Cloud talk let me talk for a moment about home streaming, it is not very well known but it is already at a good point. Sony allows you to play on mobile / tablet with its PS4 Remote application, Microsoft has already been allowing you to play on the PC for some time by broadcasting from your console thanks to the Xbox Companion application and has recently been pushing the boundaries by releasing the application of Project XCloud in mobile version all over the world. From the ashes of the failure of Steam Link, a small piece of hardware that allowed you to stream games from the library directly to the TV via the platform Steam, the homonymous application was born that uses mobile phones / tablets to do the same thing. 

What do these applications have in common? Obviously you need a home machine that runs the games, and at this point the question arises:

Why should I play streaming instead of playing directly to the source machine?

If, like me, you have several consoles and even a nice computer, you know very well how boring it is to unplug and plug them back in, change rooms to play on the PC, change controllers and even be content to play something else because having it on Steam I can't play it from the sofa . And here it is with a single controller I can access the system I want, sitting comfortably on my sofa. The beauty of this service is that it is based on our home network, so you just need a decent router, trust that you tend to have one.

with a single controller I can access the system I want, sitting comfortably on my sofa

Cloud Gaming

Let's go back to Cloud Gaming, where the machine that broadcasts the game is somewhere on the web. This concept is actually not new for those who hang out in information technology, there are virtual machine services with configurations from ultra-super PCs with a monthly subscription, where the games are installed and to which we connect and play, but always and in any case from our PC.

So why is the industry interested right now?

The answer lies at the very basis of everything, the evolution of technology and its cost. It is no longer enough to create a good story or a good mechanic, the video game must be beautiful to look at, useless to go around it the vast majority of users buy titles based on graphics. To get to have photorealism you need a very high computational strength consequently you need a more powerful hardware which obviously costs more, just think of the cost of video cards.

It is now history that consoles are sold at a loss, the playstation 3 was already, and almost certainly the next-gen will also be sold at a loss. This because the videogame market is supported by the sale of videogames, doesn't it seem to you that the best solution for those who create consoles is cloud gaming?

So why haven't console manufacturers already taken this path? Once again the answer leads us back to technology. Unfortunately, the infrastructure that keeps the internet in place, as we know it, is not able to satisfy everyone, at least for now. (see project StarLink di Elon Musk e 5G ), then swapping to this solution would leave most users out. 

The Problems of the video game in streaming

Unlike the audio and video streaming which we use in a “passive” way, the streaming of the video game requires an “active” mode. We interact with what happens on the screen, a static portion of content is not simply downloaded and reproposed. In this context it is necessary to talk about "ping" and connection speed.

To learn more:
Google Stadia, too many problems and an uncertain future

Without going into the sophistication, the "ping" is the time in which a data is transmitted from a source to a destination, well known by those who chew multiplayer. Having a high ping makes any title unplayable. Obviously this time is influenced by the connection speed, to play in streaming you need a high speed (at the moment it means optical fiber ed.), but that's not the only aspect. Server location, data routing, and other IT stuff also play a role in this data and affect possible transmission delay. It is no coincidence that some of the most famous leaders in the internet infrastructure sector, such as Amazon e Google, are joining the party.

Warning! Not only them, also a giant of the hardware components industry, Nvidia, launched its service: NVIDIA GeForce Now. (I want to emphasize that this company produces the raw material of the consoles ed.) If these companies decide to invest in this technology and compete with the pillars of the videogame sector, it means that the direction is the right one.

The Big and the role of Netflix take the field

Project Tempo This is the name of the project that Amazon has given to its take to the field in Cloud Gaming.

Returning to the discourse of technology and why the time is starting to be ripe to start talking seriously about Cloud Gaming we find mainly two factors: the spread of high-speed connection (the right to the web was introduced as a fundamental human right ed.) e basically the company has become very familiar with this type of serviceAlways thanks to Netflix

The first reports showed up but the response from the public was very cold, Google Stadia it was a huge flop (okay, they gave it their all by promising things that didn't happen and very few titles at launch ed.), because we who buy consoles are accustomed to this future, we don't want them to take away our little treasure.

We are willing to pay 2 to 3 subscriptions to watch TV series and films, we are willing to pay 10 euros per month Spotify on duty; but that didn't destabilize us that much when we had to throw away the VCR, Blu-ray player, stereo and cassette player.

This streaming market has worked and is working, not because it is aimed at us, let's face it you know very well how to watch content on the internet without having to pay a euro, but because it has led millions of people to enjoy the contents in a simple and fast way. without knowing what a torrent is. The key is right here, when the service that manages to offer the video game in a simple and fast way on any device connected to the network will arrive on the market, it will open the way to the mass and in this story we will be the dinosaurs.

Whether we want it or not, the physical support, whether they are consoles or not, in the videogame field is destined to die out

The Extinguishing Factor

Whether we want it or not, the physical support, whether they are consoles or not, in the videogame field is destined to die out, maybe not tomorrow, not in a year but it will come, an extinguishing factor.

As well as Netflix it is replacing blu-rays and DVDs causing the chain to become extinct BlockBuster, as well as Spotify it has replaced CDs and cassettes, just as the smartphone has replaced cameras, the cloud has replaced photo albums… history is destined to repeat itself over and over again. We can also continue to live in our dream of consoles, controllers, discs, steelbooks and collector editions, despising to death anyone who carries the flag of the cloud. But the future is coming and we are still sleeping.

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