What is cloud gaming?
A cloud gaming service uses cloud computing technology to deliver high-quality video games at a reasonable cost to users of gaming devices. In cloud gaming, video games are delivered to users over the Internet; video game data, including the video, audio, and graphics, is streamed to the user’s device through web browsers, mobile devices, and Smart TVs. Data is transmitted via the Internet, rather than being stored on a device locally. Cloud gaming allows gamers to access their games and other gaming related content through the internet. What this means is that players are not required to buy the games; all they need to do is pay a monthly subscription fee to access the content or other gaming related content.
Cloud gaming has been a popular concept in the tech world for years now. With cloud gaming, users will no longer need to purchase equipment such as gaming PCs or consoles with powerful graphics hardware. Instead, all the heavy lifting will be done in the cloud — all you need is a stable and reliable internet connection. This opens a door to a whole new world of possibilities. Imagine playing the latest AAA games or cloud gaming apps on your phone or Chromebook. The idea of cloud gaming is exciting enough, even if the tech hasn’t matured fully yet.
How does cloud gaming work?
In a nutshell, cloud gaming is a delivery mechanism for video games instead of a storage mechanism. When you buy a video game on a disc or download it from an online store, it gets stored on your hard drive. And when you access the game, it runs on your computer from the hard drive. In cloud gaming, instead of buying a game and installing it on your computer or console, you pay a monthly subscription fee to access games hosted in the cloud. Instead of being stored on your hard drive, the video game is delivered to you over the internet, so it doesn’t matter where you access the game from. All the processing is done on the server side, and all you need is a stable internet connection. The actual mechanics behind cloud gaming are a bit more complicated. When you access a game through a cloud gaming service, the game is delivered to you over the internet as a series of video and audio files.
Let’s say you want to play Fortnite on your phone. Instead of downloading the game to your device and installing it, you’ll simply launch a web browser and go to the Fortnite website. The game will then be streamed to your device over the Internet. You’ll be able to access your game library wherever you have an Internet connection, without having to carry around a bunch of bulky gaming hardware.
Theoretical advantages to cloud gaming:
Since cloud gaming is such a popular phenomenon already, there’s obviously a lot going for it. Here are some theoretical advantages to cloud gaming.
1. No expensive hardware investments required
As reiterated previously, cloud gaming is perfectly accessible on existing hardware since games are delivered over the internet instead of being stored in your gaming consoles or PCs. You can also opt for a cheap streaming box and controller that easily plugs into your television or home network. All in all, cloud gaming allows users to save a ton on costs.
2. Instant playing
Any gamer is familiar with waiting long, tiresome hours for games to install as some require a download of 10-20GB initially before you can play them. Cloud gaming allows users to play instantaneously as the server already has the game installed.
3. Games accessible on any device
Many heavy, high-end and non-mobile games are restricted to majorly Windows PCs and consoles. Cloud gaming opens opportunities for games to become more flexible and platform independent, allowing various devices and operating systems like Mac, Linux, Windows RT, Chrome OS, and Android iOS to play games that might only run on Windows.
This advantage is particular to publishers, not gamers. If games run on remote servers instead of personal devices, pirating games would become impossible. Therefore, cloud gaming is an attractive form of DRM for publishers.
Disadvantages of cloud gaming:
1. Bandwidth issues
While cloud gaming comes with endless benefits, it does also require a large amount of bandwidth. Cloud gaming is similar to streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube, except that it’s specifically for video games. Like Netflix, cloud gaming requires a lot of bandwidth, so it’s best suited for users who have a high-speed Internet connection. In other words, you’ll get the best cloud gaming experience if you have a fibre Internet connection. However, even users with slower cable Internet can access cloud-based games, although the experience may be subpar.
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2. High latency levels
Cloud gaming has a latency of around 100ms, while local hardware has a latency of around 15-30ms, given that you have a great internet connection. This means that while cloud gaming is a great experience, it is not quite as smooth as local hardware. This is because the games are being delivered over the internet instead of being stored locally on your gaming consoles or PCs. However, as the internet continues to become faster and more accessible, this disadvantage is diminishing.