Console wars have raged on for decades, with PS4 selling 92.64 million units, the Xbox One 41.48 million units, and the Switch 30.65 million units. It’s a special feeling when we think of the games we have played since our childhood. Every game brought its own challenges and delights, hours and hours of fun. To see where the gaming industry is headed, we just need to look where the video entertainment industry is going. A simple LED can be converted into a smart TV by devices like Roku, allowing millions of hours of viewing.
The Netflix of Games
Not everyone can afford a robust gaming PC or a living room console with expensive game DVDs. Whether hardcore console gamers believe in it or not, the change to cloud-based gaming is inevitable. Accessible console gaming on the go on any smart device is a dream come true for most people. It means minimum hardware requirements and maximum entertainment. The success of streaming video content services is proof positive that the concept of cloud gaming will catch on.
Connection Drop = Game Over
When streaming any video, the segments are preloaded in advance to prevent any hiccups or interruptions in the viewing experience. High-speed internet connections allow buffering of content for the best viewing experience that is both fluid and smooth. However, the gaming industry doesn’t deal with a relaxed, tucked in the blanket user; it deals with adrenaline pumping, tense users that have to respond instantly, and their response must be instantly communicated across the server to the other gamers for the game to run smoothly.
These latency issues make the game unplayable for gamers with slow internet connections. The “ping” is what determines the playability across the globe, and connections for cloud-based gaming need to be extremely fast and stable. Thankfully, with the dawn of the 5G era, we are ideally looking at speeds of 1 Gbps speeds with a latency of fewer than ten milliseconds.
Current Cloud Gaming Services
The digital game streaming service has now over 650 titles for your gaming pleasure without the need to use any discs. The great news is that its compatible with PC gaming as well. There is a seven-day free trial for you to check out the muscles of your internet connection. If there is an occasional lag, it won’t matter that much in a stealth-based game where every move is thought of carefully before, but in a first-person shooter, a headshot missed can ruin the entire game and your day.
Now you can experience the power of GeForce on PC, Mac, or shield TV. Currently, it’s in the beta testing phase, and it’s free to use but will be a paid service when its available for commercial use. Only for users in North America and Europe, it has over 400 great games for you to choose from. To play games on GeForce Now, you must own the games on your Steam, Uplay, or account. GeForce Now streaming service is now available on android as well but restricted to South Korea only; however, the apk is available online for you try out on your android device.
Described as “get your very own gaming machine in seconds!” on their webpage, vortex allows you to play games without any installation requirements, even from your browser. You can also play demanding hardware games from your browser and have tons of fun. The analogy of Netflix for gaming comes glaringly true here, as they describe themselves as the Netflix of games. For $9.99 per month, you get 50 hours of playtime every month.
Accessed remotely from your Windows/macOS/Linux PC, Android device, or the Shadow Ghost set-top box, Shadow service allows you, for a hefty sum of $35 per month, to basically rent a powerful gaming machine to play a game of your choice. It’s pretty much useless if you have your own gaming goliath at home, but you just can’t lug your machine around everywhere you go. This is a powerful PC at your disposal for all your gaming needs on the go.
Launching on November 19th, 2019, Google’s Stadia Cloud, allowing you to play high-end console and PC games on your Chrome web browser. The Stadia platform enables cross-screen gameplay across TVs, laptops, desktops, tablets, and mobile devices using Stadia controller, mouse, and keyboard, as well as many HID-compliant game controllers. It is not a rental service of games, though; Google says users will have to buy games like from a store. For an initial price of $130, you get a hardware starter kit with three months of premium service and a $10 monthly fee afterward.
Cons of Cloud Gaming
- A server crash or closing down of service means losing ownership of games that you paid for
- Internet disconnection
- Data cap
Pros of Cloud Gaming
- No investment into heavy hardware
- Multiple device platforms utility
- No installation or update waits
- Uniformity of experience provided the internet is rock solid
Cons of Console Gaming:
- Massive investment every 4 to 5 years
- Installations and updates
- Expensive game discs
Pros of Console Gaming:
- Game ownership
- Offline gaming
- Less internet expenses
Cloud gaming has arrived but will it grow and make consoles obsolete? It is anyone’s guess. My bet is that consoles will likely remain the preferred choice for most.