My first games console was a PlayStation 2. I didn’t know it then but gaming would become a massive part of my life. I’d eventually end up working in the gaming industry, spending far more time playing games than I care to work out.
The landscape of gaming has vastly changed since I played my first game of FIFA back in 2002. Throughout my early teens, when Amazon wasn’t as big a part of our lives as it is today, I would head to shops like Game or HMV and spend my pocket money on physical copies of the latest releases.
However, as industries like TV moved to digital marketplaces, gaming followed suit. It’s more common now to buy a game on your console’s store and download it directly to your device; my Xbox doesn’t even have a disk drive.
So, what is next for gaming?
Recently Sony and Microsoft released their next generation of consoles. While there is a lot of fanfare and excitement surrounding these releases, a glance over at what Google is doing may provide a better insight into the future of the industry.
In 2019 Google launched Stadia, a cloud gaming service that doesn’t require additional computer hardware, only an internet connection and Google Chrome support.
But what is cloud gaming and how does it work?
On traditional games consoles, you will play the game via a disk or from the download that is stored on the hardrive. With cloud gaming, your console is essentially replaced with a datacentre full of servers. The servers handle the game rendering and send you a video stream of the end result. You stream games, just like you’d stream content on Netflix, only gaming videos will react to your input via a controller.
There are some clear benefits to cloud gaming. First and foremost, you can play on anything: Windows PC, Mac, Linux, whatever takes your fancy. Also, say goodbye to the days of massive downloads and huge game updates. How many times have you booted up your favourite game to be hit with an unexpected 30GB update?
However, there are also drawbacks with cloud gaming. You are going a need a very good internet connection, as poor latency leads to games being basically unplayable.
Cloud gaming could also prove to be pretty costly. Think about it this way, to watch Game of Thrones you have to subscribe to NOW TV and to watch Black Mirror you have to subscribe to Netflix. Developers can ultimately decide where to place their content, so don’t expect it to be cheaper than owning a console.
With rumours that Microsoft and Amazon are beginning to explore cloud gaming, it seems inevitable that it will take off in the near future.
There are hurdles to overcome, but a monumental shift in the gaming industry is imminent.