As we enter 2019, it would seem that everyone wants to get into the game streaming service. What’s fascinating here though there are more companies partaking in this than just game industry’s biggest names. We knew what Microsoft and Google offered, but now Amazon is joining the fray. Whether or not we call it “cloud-based” gaming, the anticipation for online game distribution has grown as of late. While they have set nothing in stone in stone yet, we saw Google and Microsoft announce their different Projects back in October last year.
The thing that will be the most fascinating to find out would be the service in which will come into play. Most likely, we could see a service that would emulate Netflix which would be something like “on-demand video streaming.” Through the company server, they would store the game, and then stream it to the player’s device. If they do the service right, you can have users enjoy a game without having to install or download it.
Will this be the case for what Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have in mind? That will be difficult to say, but let’s look at the three services and that and see where it will take us. More information may drop in the coming months, but since Amazon wanted to announce their service right away, let’s see what everyone has to offer.
Microsoft’s Project xCloud
If you enjoy your gaming on the Xbox One or PC, you might already be familiar with what Microsoft offers the gamers. While the console might not get as much discussion as the platforms from Sony or Nintendo, Microsoft set itself apart so far with the Xbox Game Pass service that lets players enjoy access to hundreds of titles. As we continue forward, Microsoft is aiming for the next big leap in gaming: being able to play games for not just anywhere, but also on any device.
Back at E3 2018, Microsoft revealed that they were working on a new cloud service that would enable Console-quality games streaming on any device. In their promo video, we saw various examples of Android Devices that enabled the ability to play a game either through the Xbox controller via Bluetooth or even through touch pad controls. While the service itself is only in one particular part of the world, they are in hopes to example the scale of the streaming service far and wide.
Now you can say out of the three companies here, Microsoft has the upper hand here. Not that Google and Amazon will have issues with their services, but it would be understandable if we were to see some Xbox exclusive titles only appear on just Microsoft’s streaming service and nowhere else. In fact, it would be fair to say unless if they did a deal, Microsoft would be the only one of the three to have exclusive titles while the other two would either have to go with multi-platform or titles that would be on the PC. Either way, Microsoft looks to have an edge at the moment as we will probably find out more in the coming months (E3).
Google’s Project Stream
For as big as Google’s mark is on the tech world, we have to remind ourselves that they have not taken a full dive into the world of gaming yet. Still, the approach that Project Stream is taking, shouldn’t be one that one would overlook. Imagine that while you are on your computer and using Google Chrome you open a new tab and play a new game. At the time of this article, there was only one game that Project Stream runs: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. I can’t say I got to enjoy the beta for this, but there are plenty of others that got the chance, including Digital Foundry.
According to the tests, it is difficult to say how well it can perform. Like all streaming services a constant internet connection is vital and can’t buffer like Netflix since the video game experience is always constant. So if your connection isn’t always constant, you will notice dips in performance such as frame rates and resolution. Some part of Odyssey’s open world may drop to 30 FPS, but when you are in smaller parts of the world and have a full connection, the game can look as good on Chrome as it would on a console.
One can conclude that Project Stream doesn’t match the quality of a console, but it works better than you might first think. Not sure if this could lead to a future where Google might try to make connections with developers and publishers, but gaming on the go is incredible to think of.
Amazon’s Untitled Cloud Gaming Service
What can we pull from Amazon to help make a case for them? Well according to Forbes, Amazon is the second biggest computing vendor back in November 2017, beating Google and IBM. For Amazon, it isn’t about matching what Microsoft can do (to who was at the top of that list), but rather to provide a simple but brilliant service to customers that everyone would enjoy.
In their story covering, “Why Amazon Won’t Catch #1 Microsoft In The Cloud,” Contributor Bob Evans said it was “All About Software.” A fair point considering that Amazon’s focus isn’t the Cloud services as much as it is about its e-commerce. Someone can say same about how Microsoft’s focus isn’t the Xbox One as much as it is their computing service, but you get the idea. Not that having a Cloud gaming service will be that meal ticket to propel them higher, but it would be a big start. Between it and Amazon Video Streaming services, you could say that Amazon is looking to take a bigger cut of the Cloud Pie.
We know that Amazon has made their arrangements overtime for something in the gaming world (such as gaining Double Helix, who made Killer Instinct). We might see them make a move soon enough now they announced this service.
So what conclusion can we draw about cloud gaming?
Much like any other kinds of gaming (or streaming), there is a lot of variables that go into this. For the Digital Foundry video, many pointed out where example the main data center was located. Even in Microsoft’s Project xCloud video, the pointed out that while they plan to have several data stations around the world, their first location is in Quincy, Washington. Something to which you could say would not end well for people who might live in New York if Quincy was the only location whereas California residents likely will have a better time.
Perhaps the thing that fascinates me the most about all of this is how cloud gaming can be seen in a different light from what we’ve grown accustomed to. We don’t bring up PCs when we talk about “The Big Three” and the future of cloud gaming could be in an entirely different level of gaming altogether. It isn’t like Google and Amazon will compete against Sony and Nintendo in a “Cloud vs Console” struggle while Microsoft gets to enjoy the best of both. Still, it could be likely if we were to see exclusive titles on either streaming platform.
The future is uncertain, but it will be fun to see how it progresses. We could look at the future of gaming, or an alternative for those who might not afford a new console or PC. Not to mention who knows what the overall cost would be for this kind of service. We’ll find out soon enough, but until we do, it is best not to leave your head in the clouds (or at least not for the moment).
So what do you think of the future of cloud gaming?
Will it be able to compete against the current way of playing? Will it change the way we look at the costs of PCs or game consoles? And will get more details on cloud gaming as the year progresses? Be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming for more articles on all things gaming and other fancy goodies coming out of Amazon and Google.