Goodbye your own hardware?
The gaming industry has long been the driving force behind the computer manufacturing industry. Hardly any other application with such a broad impact requires as much power as modern toa 100 team video games. While many players are escaping the arms race, there are now the first manufacturers to offer alternatives. Is game streaming the future?
The offer sounds very tempting. Instead of having to buy expensive hardware – operate, maintain and update – they simply rent a gaming computer in the cloud. The remote computer runs video games on powerful gaming hardware remotely, the customer only has to bring the display and the controller with him. The Internet transmits the controller inputs to the server, which in turn returns the appropriate image. The level of service and comfort varies. Currently, there are two widespread offers in this direction – these come from Sony and Nvidia.
Sony uses the possibilities in PS Now above all to make up for the otherwise lacking downward compatibility of its own console – and to collect monthly costs for it. Actually a good idea: To sell or rent games to the user that he already has. Why not? Nintendo has been making a lot of money with this for years. The service is also available on the computer or Mac.
Nvidia goes one step further with Geforce Now and also wants to offer current games. Few are included in the subscription, the rest must be paid extra or contributed from your own Steam library. The service is available on a wide range of devices – up to your own streaming hardware, the Nvidia Shield.
In recent weeks, two other very large manufacturers have entered the segment – or at least are showing serious ambitions in this direction. The first one would be Google, a manufacturer that hardly offers any hardware of its own. For the start on 05 October, the provider has already looked for a large partner and an AAA title: Ubisoft brings Assassin’s Creed Odyssey with it. Testers can play for free – but unfortunately the test is limited to the USA and is only offered to selected users. The performance should be up to 60 frames per second, the service should be offered for all common operating systems – including Chrome OS and Linux.
Microsoft is not beyond the announcement yet – project xCloud should offer essentially the same function. The manufacturer emphasizes that gaming should be possible on all devices, from (weak) computers to smartphones. In addition to the big names, there are also smaller manufacturers and services, so Shadow also offers a high-quality PC as a complete remote solution.
In the end, the question remains: Is this the future? As much as I would like to write “Yes” now, it doesn’t look that way to me. On the one hand, I doubt the motivation of the manufacturers. Microsoft and Sony offer their own consoles and earn a lot of money with them. Of course, many consoles are heavily subsidized at the beginning of their life cycle, but at the end of their life cycle they can make a profit.
On the other hand, there is a significant limiting factor: the Internet! Who wants to play in 4K and with 60fps on a device, needs a very strong Internet line. Most service providers state at least 15 MB/s, but in reality the values are much higher. Especially with multiplayer games, players will not forgive any jerkers. In the end, it is not only a question of the strategy of the manufacturers, but also of the infrastructure. And it looks like 5G won’t help either. And in the end the monthly price will be decisive.
How I Imagine the Future of Mobile Gaming
Until now, you needed a mobile console to be able to play reasonably on the go. That was many years, if you wanted a certain choice of games, a handheld from Nintendo. Even today, the (New) 3DS is still a popular handheld. The newest member of the Nintendo family is the Nintendo Switch. This could also soon become interesting for “mobile gamers”. Of course, the range of games on offer is decisive.
The other day I was on the road in Apple’s AppStore and wondered how many games were offered there. And how beautiful some of them look. Not necessarily in terms of design, but in terms of graphics. Apparently, such a halfway current iPhone has a relatively good graphics performance. Significantly better than that of a Nintendo 3DS. After a short search on the internet I found the following statistics. This should at least explain why there are so many games in the AppStore. 85 percent of the gamers surveyed use their smartphone to play games. On the other hand, only 41 percent use a handheld.