Cloud-Gaming is not the End-All-Be-All
Google Stadia, Microsoft XCloud, Sony PlayStation Now will soon be duking it out over which platform will reign Supreme over game streaming. However, game streaming does not mean the death of physical hardware. Cloud gaming is not necessarily new, but it is becoming more relevant as significant companies are diving into it. Microsoft and Sony have recently announced their next Gen systems, but they are also preparing for cloud gaming.
During the Pre-E3, Google announced Stadia, which will be strictly cloud gaming without having the option to run games natively on hardware. During, my search on Twitter, there are a lot of people that have said, “hardware is going to die,” and I have to disagree. So let’s talk about why cloud gaming is an addition, but hardware well will continue to live on.
ISPs Data Caps
When it comes to internet data usage, it is essential to know if your ISP has data caps. A data cap is a red flag when it comes to cloud gaming. Cloud gaming, especially if you are trying to stream a game at its highest capacity, will use a lot of gigs in one session. ISPs control how much data per month their users can use before they throttle speeds or charge an additional service fee. Over-capping with game streaming is going to be hard not to do if you’re an everyday gamer.
According to Broadbandnow.com, almost all major internet service providers have data caps. Some of these data caps are based on tiered pricing. Data caps are used to help reduce internet congestion.
For cloud gaming, it is essential to know how much data will it take to stream a game. Most games that have online modes use about 100Mb per hour to 300mb per hour when downloaded on a console. Watching TV shows or movies on Netflix uses about 1 GB of data per hour for each stream of standard definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for each stream of HD video. Downloading and streaming consume a similar amount of data. However, with streaming a video game, it will definitely take a lot more data per hour. Video games have a lot more assets going on in one frame than most movies. Furthermore, the idea of pressing a button will also use some sort of data, even if it is not that much.
For game streaming to be successful, it will take ISPs drastically increasing data caps and cellular service providers not throttling speeds. With native hardware, gamers will not have to worry about data caps as much unless they download a lot of games and play online.
Buffer and Button Lag
The internet can be your best friend or an annoying one. Game streaming will allow users to not be tied to a single device, but one issue that is present in the button lag or buffering. When watching a video where the connection is always the best, sometimes there is a little bit of buffering. Imagine being in a situation in which you’re playing Halo in an intense firefight against a group of Elites and your game buffers.
Most gamers would know better than to play in an area in which the connection is not the best, but something like that would be frustrating. Another gaming frustration is button lag. Because the button input of the controller has to be sent to a server miles away, gamers may experience some button lag. Cloud gaming is great for games like RPGs and some FPS single player experience, but button lag can kill some momentum.
Hardware is important
Hardware will always be an essential piece of gaming. The ability to customize the device or have a place in which your games are right there is necessary. Google Stadia is just cloud, and if for some reason, they have server issues, gamers will be without their games until the servers are back up. This is where Microsoft and Sony have the advantage when it comes to cloud gaming. They have hardware as an option, so gamers can stream, but also play on their native machines at home.
Cloud-Gaming is excellent for many reasons, but will not overtake the gaming industry. Cloud gaming will be another option for gamers, but will also open the doors for the gaming industry in general.
XCloud and PlayStation Now will probably be the more popular game streaming services as they not only have the hardware but also have a more significant catalog than the like of Google Stadia. Will cloud gaming kill hardware? No, but it will add an excellent option for gamers who are on the go a lot.