A look into the future of gaming. All new in its way, and yet so familiar. (But writing games is cool, yeah? And a very viable market.)
by Michael Crider
The future of game streaming is an open road. But we already have some markets we can use to draw a map: online video streaming services. If we’re not careful, game streaming will hit the same speed bumps.
As Microsoft, Sony, NVIDIA, Google, and others start to ramp up their game streaming subscription services, we can already see what the biggest problem for gamers will be: an increasingly fragmented selection. As platforms and consoles fight to get the biggest and best games on their streaming service, and only their streaming service, gamers will find that it’s impossible to play all the titles they want on just one of them. Not that this is anything new for the gaming industry, of course: it’s the good old-fashioned platform exclusivity problem, now spread out among more and more platforms.
Streaming Looms On The Horizon
To be clear about our terms: the “game streaming” in this article refers to playing video games in your home over a broadband connection, where the actual hardware that hosts the game (the PC or game console doing the number-crunching) is on a server somewhere.
Current examples include PlayStation Now, which streams a selection of PS2, PS3, and PS4 games to either a regular PS4 or a program running on your computer, NVIDIA GeForce NOW, which can stream full-power PC games to either the NVIDIA SHIELD set-top box or PCs, and Google’s Project Stream, which used a single PC game in a test run earlier this year.
We’re not talking about streaming video of someone else playing a game that you watch on a service like YouTube or Twitch.
If you’re not familiar with it: game streaming is very cool. It enables someone with minimal hardware, like, say, a $200 SHIELD, to play games that are otherwise limited to a $1000 gaming PC. It doesn’t need local media or massive 50GB downloads, and a relatively small monthly charge can give you access to hundreds of games, a la the Netflix setup. Regarding pure hardware, the only real downer is that you need a solid broadband connection: most of these services recommend 25 Mbps, but I’ve found that they tend to stutter on anything less than 50….