The recent $380 million acquisition of GAIKAI cloud gaming by SONY spurred an idea for an interesting topic for today’s entry. Read on to find out why this new technology will change the digital world.
Before I looked into the concept of “cloud gaming”, all I knew about it was that ONLIVE, a popular supplier of cloud gaming, had incredibly annoying commercials that plagued the beginnings of my YouTube videos (this was before I grew a brain and installed AdBlock). The whole cloud gaming movement sort of just slipped my mind for whatever reason. To be honest, it was growing in popularity right about when I got my new computer, so I didn’t really care about what I thought was another gimmick.
A few months ago, I found out that I was dead wrong. Instead of being a crappy gimmick that lured people in with the typical “revolutionary” ad campaign, ONLIVE and other cloud-based gaming services have begun a movement that brings gaming to an entirely new audience, as well as providing compelling features for current gamers to check out, too.
For those who don’t know, cloud gaming is an extremely unique concept that blends together high-end gaming with on-demand features. Here’s how it works: When a gamer is in the dilemma of having a high-speed internet connection, but not a sufficient rig to run any powerful games, cloud gaming is his or her best bet. When using a service like GAIKAI or ONLIVE, all a gamer needs is a fast internet connection to play their most beloved titles. How is this possible?
What these companies do is have their own private, super-computer servers located around the world. When a user loads up a game, the company’s computer boots the game in real-time and instantly streams it to the user’s computer. This is a huge milestone in gaming and technology because we are no longer withheld from unique gaming experiences just because out graphics cards aren’t up to par. With cloud gaming, all we need is an internet connection, an input device (gamepad or keyboard) and a screen to play top-tier games. When you think about it, that’s truly amazing.
As the tech progresses, there are only a few drawbacks to this exciting new way to game. For starters, DSL users would be hard-pressed to get anything more than pixelated, laggy streaming from these services. If your bandwidth is too low, the service might not even allow you access to its games. While this is unfortunate, it might be easier for some users to upgrade their internet rather than their gaming PC, so it’s not all bad.
Another issue is that the games these companies provide are currently limited to the few developers/publishers who have actually partnered with them. With massive juggernauts like STEAM and others like ORIGIN that are rising as downloadable PC-gaming markets, cloud gaming certainly has its hands full with competition. The good news is that more and more games and developers are signing on to the idea, so the libraries continue to grow.
What I intend to use the service for is tablet gaming. By simply installing an app, ONLIVE users can actually stream their favorite games to their tablet. What’s even more amazing is that a SONY or Microsoft controller can be hooked up to the tablet for more ease-of-use. Think about it; with cloud gaming, you can turn your tablet into an Xbox, PS3 or PC gaming device! I tip my hat to the industry. This is truly unbelievable and such a great step forward for our hobby.
If you’ve got a good connection (I’d say at least 5mbps, but each company’s recommendations vary), I highly suggest you check out this service that a surprising amount of people don’t know about. I’m glad I did, and I think you will be too.