So, you were just surfing on the internet, sipping your coffee, and then BAM, you come across an unfamiliar phrase. That phrase is Cloud Gaming.
You stop and stare at these two wonderful words that just make your mind explode! You think to yourself that this can't be possible. There is no way that gaming in the cloud is a thing anymore with all the failed attempts in the past!
But yet, you are researching it, and finding companies like Shadow, Google Stadia, and many others.
You stop researching and finally ask yourself... What is Cloud Gaming? And what does it mean for the future of PC Gaming?
And now here you are, reading my blog post because somehow when you stopped to ask that question, you just ended up on my blog! Okay, okay, I jest, that was probably a cheesy opening to this blog post...
Anyways, today, we will be talking about what Cloud Gaming is, and what it could mean for the future of gaming!
What is Cloud Gaming?
Well, first, we must understand what Cloud Computing is. The "Cloud" is a large number of servers managed by a third-party, usually in a Data Center, that houses data from multiple different users replicated across multiple servers.
The cloud computing allows for file redundancy, high uptime, and data security all transferred over the internet to provide the services you need from pretty much anywhere. There are a bunch of companies that offer "Cloud" services, but the big names are Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.
It is a way to access computing resources from pretty much anywhere, both efficient and cost-effective, while not having to worry about maintaining the infrastructure behind it.
The cloud has changed how companies and users save their data, as it allows for not having to purchase and manage hardware to handle the storage, processing, or running of applications. In fact, this website is run on the cloud!
So, what is Cloud Gaming? Well, that question has a few answers. Different companies offer Cloud Gaming, the one I am familiar with, and this blog is focused on, is Shadow. There are other products like Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud. Below, I will discuss the two types of Cloud Gaming.
Full Computer Cloud Gaming
Companies like Shadow offer a fully functional Windows 10 Virtual Machine that is accessed via a custom streaming software provided by the company. These Virtual Machines can be used for more than just gaming, as long as you follow the companies guidelines.
Since you have access to what is essentially a full computer, you can use it exactly like any other gaming computer you may have used or currently used. On top of that, you can use these Virtual Machines for professional work using products like Maya, Photoshop, Blender, etc.
If you are a PC gamer and looking for an easy transition with the same capabilities that you currently have, then this type of Cloud Gaming is what you will want. Especially since you can install Steam, Origin, or any other type of gaming libraries to access your current games!
Console-like Cloud Gaming
Companies like Google, and soon to be Microsoft, offer what I consider a "Console-like gaming experience". Their products are similar to that of a console. You may have to pay a subscription fee, but you will have to purchase the games to play it on their platform.
Take Stadia for example. Google Stadia is free to use for 1080p/60FPS gaming, however, if you want to play your favorite game, you will have to repurchase it for the Stadia platform. Much like if you purchase a new console.
This type of Cloud Gaming will work best for those who are console gamers and do not like the idea of having to set up a computer for PC gaming.
Cloud Gaming vs Using dedicated hardware
The point of Cloud Gaming is to be able to play your favorite games on any device within some limitations. It is a way to bypass having to upgrade equipment every few years and only pay a singular monthly fee.
But, there are some downsides to it. Cloud Gaming requires a decent internet connection, and it can use a lot of bandwidth. Without decent internet, your Cloud Gaming experience can be poor. It also adds extra latency between your inputs, and any networking issues from your computer to the Data Center that is running your session can cause packet loss/frame drop, or other latency style issues.
Dedicated Hardware, on the other hand, does not require fast internet as Cloud Gaming does, and for the most part, it should work without many issues. But, hardware has a decent upfront cost and will need to be upgraded periodically.
I wrote up an article about the cost comparison, as well as some pros/cons of using Shadow vs Building a PC. Check it out! - /shadow-vs-building-a-pc-a-cost-comparison/
Do note that the above article linked is based on the original Shadow hardware available in the US. The article will be updated to the new Shadow tiers once they are available in the US
Future of Gaming
So, much like when the Cloud was introduced to the business world, and some companies embraced it, some didn't, and some went with a hybrid-style solution, I think that Cloud Gaming will end up the same way,
There will be those that fully embrace it, like myself, and there will be those who refuse to use it. Then there will be those that have both. I do think that Cloud Gaming will allow for more people to game who may not have the budget to shell out for a gaming rig and/or console, and it will push companies to integrate games between both Cloud systems and hardware systems.
I do not think Cloud Gaming will completely kill out console/pc hardware gaming, but I do think it will put a dent into their market shares. I hope, as technologies grow for gaming in general, both sides of the spectrum will allow for an optimal gaming experience.
Cloud Gaming is a fairly new technology that is still being perfected. It may not be a completely perfect alternative to gaming on your PS4/Xbox or your Gaming PC, but, it is still really powerful, and it is continuing to get better.
I will be a part of the Cloud Gaming community as it grows. It interests me, and I want to see how good it can get. I only wish I knew about this sooner!
Have any comments, feedback, anything to add, etc to this post? Feel free to comment below! I look forward to hearing from you :)!