Link to the royalty-free image by Sam Pak here
It seems like only yesterday – though it was already ten years ago – that industry experts were clamoring from the virtual rooftops that cloud gaming was to become the future of gaming. Well, the future has come and gone, and cloud gaming has failed to live up to the hype that surrounded its launch.
Now, with 5G networks reported to replace 4G worldwide, once again the familiar promises of “a new era of gaming” are sounding across the web.
With tempered enthusiasm, let’s take a look at what’s coming on the horizon in the world of cloud gaming. Is it really the future (again)? When is this future coming and what does it promise?
From Console-free to Console-connect
In 2010, when OnLive launched the first cloud gaming service provider, the main selling point was to bring gaming to users without gaming consoles (or users who wouldn’t need their outdated consoles to play new games).
Ten years later and a host of other cloud gaming platforms have come on the market – some with more success than others. The reception was less than unanimously enthusiastic. Many users cited technical glitches and frequent interruptions that slowed down the gameplay. Additionally, the best games coming on the market continued to be developed for more traditional gaming consoles and not for the cloud.
With this “second wave” of cloud gaming promises tickling the ears of gamers worldwide, there is a notable shift in how the technology is being marketed. Instead of developers creating exclusive games for the cloud and selling them to cloud-based platforms, we are seeing traditional consoles launching cloud services to complement their already existing catalog of games. For example, Xbox is set to release Forza Horizon 5 for the cloud in November 2021.
Sony, which currently uses cloud technology to allow users to save their games, is preparing to launch a cloud gaming service. It promises to be “unique and only on PlayStation”.
The advantage of incorporating cloud technology is that it could open up their catalog to online multiplayer games. Instead of gamers being dependent on AI opponents, cloud technology would mean opening up the gaming experience to a whole community of online players.
Ten years ago, cloud gaming promised to open up gaming to users who didn’t have any gaming consoles. Now, cloud gaming promises to link users who have a console to a community of online gamers.
What This Means for Developers
The first wave of cloud gaming meant new opportunities for start-ups and entrepreneurial developers. While there is undoubtedly still room for these types of ambitious and creative people, the second wave places a greater emphasis on the expansion of already successful gaming companies.
What you should know about entertainment jobs in 2021 – developers, especially in game design and cloud technology, are still projected to be in high demand. But the trend seems to be in jobs with already established companies, as opposed to start-ups. Google’s recent failure to launch their own cloud gaming service, Stadia, confirms this trend. Google attempted to absorb small start-up gaming studios. This strategy was not successful, while Microsoft and Sony chose to expand their in-house developing team which led to much better results.
What This Means for Gamers
Link to the royalty-free image by Fredrick Tendong here
When cloud gaming first came onto the scene, there was some concern that gamers would be asked to sacrifice a bit in quality as the technology caught up with the ambitions of developers and gaming companies. As it turned out, gamers were unwilling to make that concession. And companies that tried to push their cloud gaming platforms onto experienced gamers found their efforts unrewarded.
Developers and gaming companies aren’t going to make the same mistake twice. Instead, they appear to be developing games for their respective platforms and only implementing the cloud as much as the technology will allow.
As a consequence, gamers can expect to see the evolution and implementation of cloud gaming come about at a much slower pace than was previously anticipated. However, as a concession, they will not be asked to endure inferior gameplay in an effort to accelerate the evolution of the technology.
With 5G networks replacing 4G, the time has once again come for developers and gaming companies to amp up the hype of cloud gaming. Though, given the recent failure in cloud gaming of internet giants Google, the hype, this time, is a bit more tempered. Expectations are a bit more measured.
This should not be taken as bad news, though. What it means, is that gamers have spoken loudly – they are not willing to sacrifice in quality. And their voices have been heard. The result should be a slower evolution of cloud gaming technology, but one that will ultimately be pleasing to both gamers and developers alike.