Roughly this time last year, we correctly predicted that 2016 would be the year of eSports. This year, cloud gaming will see its full maturity.
It’s telling that our piece on upcoming cloud gaming service LiquidSky was one of the first posts we published in 2017. It really looks like these guys have got right what so many companies have come short in achieving. There are a dozen reasons the time is right for cloud gaming to launch this year, and a dozen more examples of it already happening.
So what exactly is going down?
Cloud gaming has always struggled to fit itself into the ecosystem of the industry, with the biggest flop being the infamous OnLive bonanza. Now, however, cloud storage and streaming has developed to the point that we can make greater strides toward the dream of a decentered online play experience.
One reason OnLive was too ahead of its time when it eventually folded in 2015 was its reliance on physical server systems. As the company grew, it couldn’t keep up with the amount of physical servers required to run the service efficiently, or at all in some cases. LiquidSky has partnered with IBM however, to use their existing locations to run a smaller amount of computer server farms. As the project increases in size, there is less pressure to expand physically because of these preexisting locations, and software has been developed to take the brunt of the work.
The concept revolves around a virtual computer on which users can install games of their choice, and upload their own personal collection. The clincher comes when you realise you can play this online library on any device, regardless of how outdated it becomes.
Big names are slowly jumping on the cloud gaming bandwagon. This year, Nvidia saw a new and improved version of their GeForce Now service come to fruition at CES. To be available in March at a price of $25 for 20 hours of play, the cloud service will run at a similar capacity to LiquidSky. The program was shown running the Steam store, so no worries about library capacity there, and a low latency level similar to that projected by LiquidSky is suggested.
Why do we like it?
Only an elite, and relatively small, group of players are able to purchase high end gaming PCs fully loaded with the best the industry can produce. Now, these experiences are open to someone playing on… a mac, or an iPad, or an Android phone. The cost of high end gaming is one of the major deterrents of not only newcomers but also seasoned players.
Removing this will definitely bring larger audiences to online multiplayer, changing the playing field for good. Installations and updates would become a thing of the past, as the title you are accessing stays separate from your actual personal computer. Similarly, you don’t have to worry about filling up your memory card.
Why is it happening now?
Streaming got big. Streaming got really big, really fast and now it’s the primary method through which a large proportion of the population consume media. These technologies have now reached the point of sophistication where they can run a full game with low latency and in high quality. Plus, with everyone streaming so much, internet providers have had to up their games.
With personal wifi speeds at an all time high, and streaming and cloud services approaching their maturity in 2016, it’s becoming clear that both ends of the service will be running at high capacity.
What evidence do we have?
Well, for starters we have companies coming out of the woodwork across the range offering feasible post-OnLive solutions. The mighty have fallen in previous years, and this generation have scrutinised their every move so as to avoid similar fates. LiquidSky has become well known in press for their analysis of previous companies’ falls from grace, and subsequent monopolisation of the processes that will serve to counteract these issues. Similarly Technavio have projected a CAGR growth in the field of 16.93% by 2021. While the report states that growth stood at $646 million in 2016, by 2021 they are proposing a global market growth of $1852 million. That starts with 2017.
Latency and library problems have plagued the cloud gaming market since it was first attempted. With these strong developments already planned for the year ahead, alongside a growth in aligning consumer demands, 2017 holds a grand old adventure in the clouds.