Cloud Gaming is a technology that allows video games to be played in streaming via the Internet on any screen. As the tech giants prepare to launch their services such as Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud, find out everything you need to know about this new technology…
In a few years, Cloud Gaming will revolutionize the video game industry. At least that’s what tech giants like Nvidia, Google, Microsoft or even Sony, Electronic Arts or Amazon predict. All of them are preparing (more or less secretly) a Cloud Gaming service.
Indeed, after shaking up the music industry with Spotify or the film and TV industry with Netflix, streaming is set to transform the small world of video games. Thanks to the Cloud, disks, downloads and even consoles will no longer be necessary. Find out everything you need to know about this revolutionary innovation.
What is Cloud Gaming?
When you launch a game on your console or PCWhether it is a physical disk or a downloaded file, it is executed thanks to the processors and other components embedded in the machine.
The principle of Cloud Gaming is to run the game on the servers of the service provider, located in a Data Center. Via the internet, the game images are transmitted in real time to the user’s screen (in the same way as a YouTube or Netflix video).
In the same way, the orders entered by the player are directly transmitted to the supplier’s servers. This is what makes it possible to play a video game with maximum graphics on any device with a screen and connected to the internet.
The The concept of Cloud Gaming is not new.. In 2010, OnLive launched its platform. However, until now, technical constraints prevented such services from working properly. Users’ internet connections were too slow and unstable, causing significant latency issues and totally ruining the experience.
However, significant progress has been made in recent years. Now, if you have a fast and stable enough connection, you can enjoy Cloud Gaming services in optimal conditions.
What are the advantages of Cloud Gaming?
Cloud Gaming has many advantages, but does not meet everyone’s needs. If you mainly play on a TV in your living room, there is not necessarily a reason to give up your good old console for a cloud service.
However, streaming can be ideal if you are often on the go and want to be able to play any game at any time. The advantages of Cloud Gaming include the ability to play on any device with a screen: smartphone, laptop, tablet, television…
Also, if you don’t want to invest in a gaming PC, you will be able to take advantage of the computing power of the provider’s servers When new components come on the market, providers update their servers immediately without increasing the subscription price.
Another strong point is that it is possible to launch a game instantly, from a simple web browser, without having to wait for a download or an update. The loading times during the game are also reduced to a minimum..
And what are the drawbacks?
Of course, Cloud Gaming still has several weaknesses at the moment. The main weakness is that a a particularly fast and stable internet connection is required to take advantage of this technology. If your connection is too weak, the latency will totally ruin the experience.
Understand that the time for the remote server to react to the commands you enter will be too long. It is possible to ignore this problem in a single player game, but not in a multiplayer game where responsiveness is paramount. For example, today, no Cloud Gaming service is responsive enough for multiplayer fighting games like Street Fighter or Tekken.
Latency depends not only on your connection, but also on the distance between you and the Cloud servers. For example, if you live in the deep countryside away from Google’s Data Centers, you may experience higher latency than Parisians using Stadia.
In addition, Cloud Gaming providers have not yet found a truly viable business model so far. The cost of running the servers is high, and the investment must pay for itself. Whether it is to have the games purchased at full price or to charge for a subscription, no option is really convincing at the moment.
We can also mention the problem of ownership. Like when you choose to watch a movie on Netflix rather than buy the DVD, you don’t own the game you’re streaming.
In addition, knowing that Cloud Gaming providers compress images, you won’t enjoy a real 4K definition even if you opt for 4K streaming. This can be disappointing for players who place a lot of importance on graphics.
Finally, you should know that Cloud Gaming consumes even more data than video streaming. While a movie is usually streamed at 24 or 30 FPS, this is called 60 FPS streaming. If you decide to connect to the service via mobile networks, make sure you have an unlimited data plan .
Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud: the new benchmarks of Cloud Gaming
As mentioned before, Cloud Gaming is not new. It has been around since the beginning of 2010, companies such as OnLive and Gaikai have tried to offer videogame streaming services… but their ambitions ran up against the technical limitations of the time.
Today, however, Google and Microsoft to launch their respective Stadia and xCloud services. These two companies have a major advantage over their predecessors: behind Amazon, they are the two world leaders in Cloud Computing. They therefore have the experience and infrastructure to deliver Cloud services to millions of people around the world. Amazon is expected to launch its own service in the near future.
Stadia is Google’s Cloud Gaming service, and will be launched in November 2019. At the time of the launch, Stadia will work via the Chrome browser. with PCs, laptops, Pixels smartphones and Chromecast Ultra connected in HDMI.
It will be necessary to pay a subscription of 9.99 euros per month to access the serviceIn addition to buying the games you want to play in streaming. More than 30 games will be available at launch, including Destiny 2, Baldur’s Gate 3, The Division 2, Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Metro Exodus.
As for Microsoft, it took advantage of E3 2019 to announce its xCloud service. Rather than powerful servers, the Microsoft Data Centers will be directly equipped with Xbox One S consoles.. It will also be possible to stream games from one’s own Xbox One S to other devices.
The performance will therefore be comparable to that offered by the console.. However, when the Project Scarlett console becomes available, it is likely that the Redmond firm will update its Data Centers. For the moment, Microsoft has revealed few details about its service, but the first phase of testing will be launched in October 2019 .