Gaming is one of the fastest evolving industries, with considerable technological advancements. We’ve come from retro arcade games to LAN parties and playing portable smart gadgets on the go.
In terms of graphics, we saw the evolution from pixel art to 2d, and then 3d models. While PC has always been able to do justice to the visually exquisite-looking titles, current-generation consoles have changed the dynamics of the graphics race. Ultra-realistic graphics with reflective surfaces and interactive environments give users an immersive gaming experience. All this before even dipping toes into Virtual Reality, which is yet to hit mainstream status.
The pandemic witnessed a sudden spike in the interest in gaming. People flocked to play games, which served as an interactive pastime compared to streaming shows and movies. The aftermath? The gaming industry raked in revenue of $156 billion as of September 2021, and the global video game market is forecasted to cross $200 billion as of 2023!
Cloud is the Backbone of the ‘Always Online’ Culture
The lack of proper infrastructure in the previous generation limited gaming options to local play, offline games, and LAN parties at best.
Massively Multiplayer Online games were a pipe dream back then. But with the turn of the millennium, things changed.
Small data centers became multiple server farms with global CDN (Content Delivery Network) for maximum scalability.
Multiplayer games have gained significant traction over the years and are now a norm. Today we have a plethora of multiplayer online titles, with single-player games providing multiplayer options for players who want to explore beyond the original storyline.
Titles like Rainbow Six Siege made bank for Ubisoft with lifetime sales of over 1.1 billion as of 2021, with a player base of 70 million as of 2021.
The cloud infrastructure in place for a feat like this speaks for itself, which would have been impossible a decade back, simply owing to the lack of tech infrastructure.
Single-player games significantly depend on the cloud infrastructure thanks to the paradigm shift from DVDs to digital game stores like Steam, Epic Games, and GOG. Pre-loading games, cloud saves, day one updates, and DLCs are standard practices in the gaming industry now. The days of waiting in long lines for days before the next GTA release is a thumbnail in history. With millions of players downloading at a time across the globe, sustainable cloud infrastructure is at the heart of gaming infrastructure.
Gaming on Demand will be a Reckoning Force in the Future of Gaming
Gaming on-demand or gaming as a service is growing by the day and will shape the path of gaming as it did with content consumption via streaming. Steam link, Nvidia GameStream PS4 RemotePlay and many such services offer gaming to the end-user on reasonably fast internet. Gaming hardware bundled with free games and discounts still comes with the invisible baggage of limitations owing to short cycle yearly tech upgrades in the gaming industry, nullifying the economy factor in gaming.
Developing games for multiple platforms is also an arduous, time-consuming task for game developers, which results in inconsistent gameplay experiences for the player. We’ve seen releases like Watchdogs, CyberPunk2077 looking graphically inferior in their release versions compared to the announcement versions. While many factors are at play here, the challenge to develop games for a previous generation platform alongside the next generation of consoles with high-end hardware causes compatibility issues in the game build and adds to the development cycle. Gamers also have to wait a long time since the release dates keep getting pushed to accommodate fixes to the build.
The high upfront cost for purchase and scarcity of vital hardware components like storage, RAM, and Graphic Cards create an opportunist and hobbyist culture in gaming. Thankfully, the advent of Gaming on-demand will address the issue. While it may take some time for global adoption, the end result not only provides every gamer the opportunity to high-speed gaming, game makers get access to the end-users without the hindrance or hardware barrier.
Cloud Gaming will be the Netflix of Games
While Netflix is testing waters and entering the gaming domain with mobile games, cloud gaming is an underlying phenomenon that will transform the industry and cement its position as the next chapter in gaming.
Stadia may have fallen short of wowing the gaming community, but there are perils to being an early adopter. For one, the number of mobile gamers in recent years has seen an alarming spike thanks to PvP games like PUBG and Fortnite captivating the masses and converting non-gamers into serious, habitual gamers.
This opens the doors for cross-platform play, which is currently a pipe dream with rare working examples, but all this will change with the cloud technology at the center stage.
With cloud gaming at the helm, the industry envisions a platform-agnostic gaming ecosystem powered by high-speed internet, primarily relying on robust cloud infrastructure for inclusive, sustainable and affordable gaming.
Currently, there is a global hardware draught from the pandemic’s disruption of manufacturing & supply chain, in addition to scalpers grabbing available stocks. This is a testament to how the dependency on hardware for gaming has reached a saturation point.
By eliminating the storage and graphical requirements that are a roadblock for many aspiring gamers, cloud gaming (gaming on demand) brings the biggest USP to the table for gamers, developers and studios. Gamers don’t have to break their bank going on a hardware shopping spree for next-gen graphics or order terabytes of high-performance Solid-State Drives for games that cross the 100GB mark.
Developers don’t have to fret over the game’s performance fidelity across multiple platforms or downgrade the graphics so that players can achieve decent frame rates across different types of devices. There’ll also be a significant reduction in the development period, which could help release games as per the dates advertised!
Studios can increase their target audience from hardcore gamers to even new players since the hardware barrier is no longer an issue. A feasible subscription gaming model will onboard a significant number of new gamers, and studios are looking at a rise in their user base with an imminent increase in ROI and a sustainable business model.
Cloud gaming emphasizes safety which is vital in online gaming. Player information leaking on the internet is nothing new, and even the top-of-the-crop studios like Bethesda have had this misfortune with Fallout 76. Cloud-based gaming models have bulletproof online security, which reduces the chances of player databases getting breached by external attacks and information leaks across the web.
Spending for modern hardware every 2–3 years at inflated astronomical prices in the current economy is not practical for players. Not to mention the pile-up of hardware junk which is not sustainable for a green future. A subscription model, in the long run, is a better alternative.
For businesses, the cost advantage is obvious. Setting up new infrastructure that requires frequent upgrades is a messy and costly affair that entails enormous resource consumption. The big cloud players offer these services for a fraction of the cost with unlimited scalability options and an ‘only pay for what you use’ model.
Cloud is not all hype. We’ve seen its role in streaming, and the technology has shaped up the OTT platforms today, providing access to quality content within the press of a button to users across the globe. The question is how long until it becomes mainstream in the gaming space. Sure, hardware-based gaming will not go extinct. But a shift towards cloud gaming is imminent.
Cloud and gaming go hand in hand. If the present is anything to go by, the dependency on cloud is only going to go up with time.