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The future of gaming platforms: what does the industry have in store?

Posted by William Brown on 11th April 2019

Gone are the days when video gaming was a mere pastime, the now multi-billion-dollar industry has become one of the fastest growing sectors in tech. With approximately two billion people playing video games across all forms, this insatiable demand for new tech and innovative content has seen platforms witness a sharp rise in popular brands entering the fold. The term ‘platform’ applies to the companies and/or online marketplaces whereby consumers can purchase their games.

In recent years, the market has been quite niche. Console companies have their own stores online that can be accessed via their respective products: Sony’s PlayStation Store, Microsoft’s Xbox Store and Nintendo’s eponymous marketplace.

Until now, one console in particular has overshadowed the competition, the trusty PC and its faithful companion, ‘Steam’. From a survey of 4,000 developers, PC gaming is considered more desirable than consoles, with 66% of those developers currently creating games supporting its integration.

Steam has been the go-to marketplace of PC gaming for the best part of a decade. This is mostly due to there being little in the way of competition on the computing front, but also because of its reliability when it comes to customer service, data security and quality of content.

However, with the meteoric rise of Fortnite in 2018, a new contender entered the field. Epic, the creators behind this most popular battle-royale title, expanded their store to cater for more than just their own releases.

Since then, a multitude of companies such as Apple, Google and even Snapchat have thrown their hat into the ring, each battling it out with new technology alongside the current competitors, with the aim of taking the crown for themselves.

But what are the risks? These threats won’t be disappearing any time soon, especially with the exponential growth that this industry is now experiencing, and there is every chance that corners may get cut, especially when it comes to safeguarding customer information. Just last year, a class action lawsuit was lodged against Epic, after a major data breach in which millions of users’ private details were stolen. Apple customers are also currently being hounded by phishing scams pretending to be from the App Store, these sites manipulate a fault in the legitimate Apple website that makes the scam look genuine.

All this begs the question, how will these companies use technology to combat these threats in future?

Cloud gaming

Apple, Google and Samsung are two such companies that have had their sights set on the cloud, with a service that would provide customers with a streaming-based video game product. Dubbed by some as the “Netflix of games” this service has raised its own set of security concerns.

Data mining and profiling of users’ information is a present issue for existing cloud networks. If this service gains traction alongside an industry worth over $130 billion, the threats it faces could drastically increase, with providers at the heart of the issue.

At present, companies that are new to the gaming market have not fully grasped the ins-and-outs of security on these platforms, with breaches still a much too common threat. 

As such, is cloud gaming the right path to tread? Unless it can offer a watertight solution that contemporary platform gaming does not, it may not be a step in the right direction and could see itself become a waste of potential.

However, that is not to say that it cannot work. Larger companies (with larger levels of expenditure) will be able to put more investment into ensuring that the ‘future of gaming’ is given the best possible chance of success, whether it is in the cloud or on more traditional platforms.

With so many companies now populating the market, the cloud race is not expected to slow down any time soon, and it would not come as a surprise to see services announced later in the year.

William Brown