Play in the clouds: how large corporations have changed their attitude to cloud gaming

In 2018, the cloud gaming market was estimated at $45 million. For the past six years, the industry has been predicting growth in

ten times - up to almost half a billion dollars.Technology that allows you to run demanding games on low-power computers is now one of the most promising segments of the gaming market. Last year, Google and NVIDIA released beta versions of their cloud gaming services, Microsoft, EA and Ubisoft shared their intentions to enter this niche, and Amazon and Verizon recently became aware of their interest.

The perfect moment in terms of infrastructure development

If earlier gamers were wary ofcloud gaming, now they are more open to technology. This is noticeable even in discussions in communities: instead of offers to buy a normal computer, players more often discuss the advantages and disadvantages of specific services. Such changes are largely due to the arrival of large companies on the market, and those that were not related to the games initially.

This is a logical continuation of the development of their ecosystem -for example, Google provides users with mail, data storage, books, applications, why not add more games? Now it has become possible due to the development of infrastructure - for the most part, the growth of Internet speed. For cloud gaming, this is one of the key elements that allows you to stream the game without delay and loss of image quality.

In 2010, when the first service appeared in the USAcloud gaming OnLive, the average speed of Internet connection was only 4.7 Mbit / s. The company lasted two years, after which it sold the technology to Sony, which also acquired another similar service, Gaikai. By 2017, the average speed in the United States has grown to 18.7 Mbit / s, and now we are on the verge of implementing 5G, which will make it possible to access streaming services and from mobile devices. This has already provoked a boom in video streaming services like Netflix. But there are still many obstacles in the way of the development of cloud gaming.

How to overcome problems with the Internet users

Although the overall infrastructure is readyto the spread of cloud gaming services, there remains the “last mile problem”. This means that even if the Internet is well developed in the whole country, it can work poorly for a particular user in an apartment. Even with an excellent rate of 100 Mbit / s, the actual Internet speed can be 5–20 Mbit / s, as the signal is simultaneously hampered by radiation from other devices (for example, Bluetooth headphones), traffic is spent on background downloads, and Wi-Fi is working in 2.4 GHz instead of 5 GHz (the first is heavily loaded). Whatever powerful technology developed by the creators of cloud services, all their efforts will not be noticeable if the Internet on the side of the user fails. The player, having received a poor-quality picture, will not begin to figure out who is to blame, but simply stop using the service.

To solve this problem, companies need to createstreaming, which will be minimally sensitive to the whims of the Internet. This is a serious technical challenge associated with the technology of encoding and decoding data transmission and processing signals (so that even when their parts are lost, the human eye perceives the image normally). Even technology corporations will need time to develop such a service.

In parallel, companies can develop services.diagnostics, which will measure the bandwidth of the Internet user and inform him that prevents the passage of the signal. Then even the technically unpatched gamers will be able to improve the quality of the game through the cloud. Just such an approach is used in the Playkey.

What prevents the player to start using the service

Another problem is the complex algorithm for accessingcloud gaming service. The chain of movement of a game from manufacturer to gamer is already very complicated. If at the start of the development of computer games you just had to buy a disc and insert it into the computer, now you will have to do much more (but you won’t need to get up from the couch!).

Firstly, you need to be connected to the Internetcomputer to log into the distribution platform (Steam, Uplay, Origin and others). Secondly, you need to register on this platform, which in itself takes time - you need to enter your username and password, go through a captcha, and confirm your email. Thirdly, you need to buy the game (and enter your card details). Finally, you need to wait until it downloads and then launch it. If the game is online, you still need to create an account.

Cloud gaming service - an additional link inthis and so stretched chain. It also needs to register and download the client, and then buy and run the game through the virtual desktop or enter the activation key of the game in services like Playkey (with a catalog of available games that run without access to the virtual desktop). Sometimes the services themselves sell activation keys, but you still need an account on one of the distribution platforms.

This complex procedure exists becausegame publishers - they still rarely enter into partnerships with cloud services. The percentage of royalties that publishers can receive from cloud services if they are allowed to distribute games simply by subscription does not yet seem significant to them. It would be most convenient for the user to have a subscription model, where, for example, a monthly fee would provide access to certain games. But for now, publishers are ready to give only old projects to the subscription model, for fear of collapsing sales of new ones (their main business). And you can’t build a successful service on old products, because users want to have access to premieres and bestsellers.

What can change the attitude of publishers is justlarge companies - their services will attract a larger number of users, therefore, the revenue of the entire market will increase and publishers will be able to count on royalties comparable to the turnover from the classic sale of licensed copies.

How to swing an audience

According to NewZoo, the most promising audienceCloud gaming services are those who occasionally play on PC and consoles, and those who actively play from mobile devices. For the former, this is a way to save and pay, for example, $ 25–30 for a monthly subscription instead of $ 400 for a console or $ 2-3 thousand for a gaming PC. For the latter, it is an opportunity to access demanding games that are not available on mobile devices. This is a huge audience - about half of the total number of gamers. And in total there are 2.2 billion active players in the world, of which 1 billion spends money on their hobby.

But for now, due to problems with technology and complexaccess systems for cloud gaming do not have the most reliable image - it is difficult to attract players. Alleviating their concerns requires significant investment in marketing. Startups, which already spend a lot of effort and money on development, do not have such resources.

Here again it is worth waiting for a breakthrough thanks tocorporate services - they have the opportunity to shape the market and turn cloud gaming into the mainstream. Then all that remains is to compete for the user with the quality of service and advantage in the choice of games. But to do this, you need to jump on board now - along with Microsoft, Amazon, EA, Ubisoft and others.