Cloud Computing Rewrites Rules of the Game

Cloud Computing Rewrites Rules of the Game

As our friends at CNBC recently pointed out, cloud computing – read: online services which stream premium games over the Internet in real-time to even low-end PC and console hardware – promises to have a marked effect on the video game industry going forward. Benefits of cloud gaming include never having to worry about installing a piece of software, dealing with compatibility issues, needing to drive to a store to enjoy the latest titles or being forced to pay for expensive hardware upgrades. But as the story also wisely indicates, several big questions surrounding the technology loom that may sink it before it ever gets properly out of the gate.

Among them: Will cloud services such as those being offered by OnLive, Gaikai, OTOY and Instant Action actually work under real-world conditions, given the distance and potential lag (transmission) time between servers and end users? Do titles perform exactly as they would if run on your local system or hard drive, or will the gameplay experience suffer from stutters, hiccups and other glitches? Are audiences willing to pay for monthly subscription services, or invest in games and other virtual goods that – despite being purchased – may completely disappear from existence if any of these services goes bust? How much support will publishers show for the format, and how well stocked will cloud gaming services therefore be in timely fashion compared with brick and mortar alternatives? Plus, of course, the biggest question mark of all: Does the technical infrastructure and consumer appetite really exist for games delivered in such a unique, streaming fashion?

Right now, we suspect cloud computing in terms of PC and video games to be in the embryonic phase, and still at least 18-24 months away from making proper inroads into mainstream usage, just as cloud computing productivity and communications solutions remain in an infant state. However, it’s easy to see the practical benefits of the technology from both a consumer and business standpoint. Imagine being able to play a game like World of Warcraft on any device capable of video streaming, ranging from the iPhone to a WiFi-enabled portable media player, or feeling what it’s like to enjoy a title on the highest end PC hardware available without making a single system upgrade. Now picture publishers capable of updating and patching games instantaneously in real-time, and issuing demos of games that include the entire title – not just a handful of levels – for an entire day or weekend, since software piracy becomes a non-issue.

But we digress. To see a deeper analysis of the burgeoning field’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, including our thoughts on cloud gaming’s overall potential, check out the following clip:

Cloud Computing: A Paradigm Shift for Gaming – CNBC

About Scott Steinberg
Scott Steinberg is CEO of strategic consulting and product testing firm TechSavvy Global, and a noted keynote speaker and business expert. Hailed as a top tech expert and parenting guru by critics from USA Today to NPR, he’s also an on-air analyst for ABC, CBS and CNN.


  1. Scott Steinberg
    Scott Steinberg

    Note that cloud computing isn’t the future of gaming yet, as technical hurdles remain high, but should take a more prominent role over the next decade. We fully expect more titles to live, and be delivered, through streaming methods, albeit not necessarily in the form of subscription services.

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