Cloud technology has proven itself to be one of the biggest disruptors over the last decade. Breakthroughs in the cloud technology have been responsible for numerous success stories of the new-age companies that we see around today, and have completely disrupted how they used to operate in the past – from streaming movies and tv shows on Netflix, listening to music on Spotify, to CRM solutions on SalesForce.
Gaming is another frontier which is experiencing its foundations shaking as a result of the inroads made by cloud tech. Cloud-based services are behind the rise of the new business model – the subscription-based model. Major industries are moving to the subscription model, and gaming is no exception — such significant transformations taking place promise to turn this industry on its head.
Gaming is expected to make massive strides to the cloud. The sales of physical copies have been falling steadily over the past several years and soon physical game copies will probably be resigned to collector’s items just like vinyl records. In a significant announcement, Sony announced in its 2019 Q1 financials that the sales of its digital games had surpassed those of the physical copies for the first time. Digital copies of games are expected to continue to overtake the physical copies. The gulf will keep on growing more prominent and this is where cloud-based gaming will make a killing
Cloud-based subscription models offer tremendous ease of use and accessibility to consumers. Users can log in to their subscription, fetch a game directly by surfing through a library of available games and start streaming the game right away. Gone are the days, when it used to take hours to download a game, providing that you first have supporting hardware. Cloud-based models have made it seamless to access and play the games. Hence, its hardly surprising that the cloud has shaken the gaming industry to the core. By 2023, the cloud gaming market is expected to surpass $450 million – that’s up from $45 million in 2017, a 900% increase in online gaming.
The massive growth is going to be fuelled because of the benefits that it offers to the users, along with the rise of supporting technologies that make it seamless such as 5G, CDN, PaaS, IaaS and SaaS among others.
Today, viewers can connect to their subscription and stream the games on their TV or on any device, from anywhere. The growing mobile and internet subscriber base are only boosting the rapid growth within this space.
With a decent internet connection, users can access and stream cloud gaming at low latency even if the users have hardware or device limitations. This is going to be crucial because an impressive user experience with low latency is going to be vital to ensure widespread adoption.
Global technology giants have taken cognizance of the opportunities within this space and they appear to be ready with well-laid strategy and deep investments. Sony has announced a partnership with Microsoft to provide game streaming services by taking advantage of the Azure’s cloud network Sony’s digital PlayStation Plus, an online subscription service has seen massive success since its launch.
ProjectXCloud streaming service is another major statement of intent from Microsoft about venturing into this space and it plans to introduce ‘truckload’ of games on this platform in 2020. Google has launched its cloud gaming service, Stadia, in November 2019. Stadia is capable of streaming video games up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second.
These large-scale disruptions as a result of technological breakthroughs are also impacting the game publishers. Infrastructure as a Cloud (IaaS) models allows game publishers to build and deploy online games, transforming how this industry has been operating for decades. EA, one of the world’s largest game publishers, plans to launch its first cloud gaming service to provide superior gaming experience.
However, there needs to be a set of supporting technology for this model to work effectively and become pervasive. Game content takes up massive amounts of storage space. Speed of delivery will be critical for delivering optimal user experience. Gamers tend to be highly impatient and active on discussion forums. A user experience issue in one geographic location may snowball into major headlines across the globe.
An essential requirement on the part of the user is to have a reliable internet connection because the online game application would likely require a heavy dose of streaming. This is a challenge for game providers because so many regions of the world still lack access to a reliable internet connection at even threshold speeds.
On the part of the gaming service provider, there are several technologies available which you need to choose from to deliver a superior experience,
The game will be typically delivered via the IaaS ( Infrastructure as a service). Choosing the right service provider will have huge implications – on application security, functionality, and admin usability. These are vital considerations to succeed as an online gaming service provider, and you need to choose the best model which would suit your requirements without overprovisioning. With increasing regulations around data privacy that differ across geographies, not being well prepared for this can harm the reputation and result in expensive lawsuits.
Load balancing will help to distribute the spikes in traffic to the gaming server to a network to handle the resource distribution and ensure a seamless experience.
Another technology breakthrough that is fuelling this trend and which is very important in order to deliver superior gaming experience is a CDN ( content delivery network).
A CDN utilizes a network of strategically distributed edge servers that cache and serve the content from the place closest to the user. It aims to provide reliable and efficient content delivery.
The winners of online gaming will be the service providers who can deliver the ease of accessibility along with a high quality of user experience. Therefore it is imperative to invest in supporting technologies that will drive the growth of this technology.
CDNs will make it possible to host and provide online gaming, making it possible for users across the globe to play with lower latency, faster ping times and consistent speed, irrespective of where they are located. It has additional benefits as well – resulting in less load on the origin server while also protecting against server DDoS attacks.
A CDN caches content in data centers across the globe and by optimizing the cache delivery using embedded intelligence, it delivers an optimal user experience at all times.
Delivering a lag-free and high-quality, robust and secure experience is going to be extremely crucial. CDN will provide flexibility and scalability to handle spikes.
Cloud-based online gaming has heralded a new era in the gaming industry and the leaders of tomorrow will need to be well-prepared to adjust to this and make winning bets with this new paradigm.
Investing in the right set of technologies is going to be crucial and this will help providers ensure that they are providing the optimal user experience, in order to stake their position as the leaders in this emerging space.
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