Imagine gamers, free from the shackles of their computers and consoles, playing crisp versions of their favorite titles on the go. They could transit the futuristic world of the sci-fi shooter “Halo” on their mobile phones while riding the subway or dust off old MacBook computers and jump straight into the jungle of the battle arena video game “League of Legends”.
That’s the attractive future that cloud gaming promises, an emerging technology that could change the way people play video games. And depending on who you ask, that future could already be here.
On Thursday, July 1, Facebook announced that it had expanded the reach of its cloud gaming platform, launched last fall, to cover 98 percent of the continental United States. Also this week, Microsoft expanded the availability of its cloud gaming service to more devices. Amazon expanded access to its burgeoning cloud service, giving Prime members a free trial during its Prime Day last month.
It’s been a busy time for the small but growing cloud gaming industry, which is expected to exceed $ 1 billion in revenue and 23 million paid users by the end of this year, according to Newzoo, a video game analytics company. . Revenues are projected to grow to more than $ 5 billion by 2023, as technology improves.
“After years of development, this is a crucial time for cloud gaming to gain prominence among the general public,” said Rupantar Guha, video game analyst at analytics firm GlobalData.
In essence, cloud gaming is the ability to separate the technical power required to play a video game from the device it is running on. This is accomplished through the use of remote data centers that funnel a company’s processing power and broadcast a game live to a user’s device.
That means that video games will no longer be tied to specific platforms or devices, so “Halo” could be played not only on an Xbox console but on a cell phone or be broadcast live to a television. Someone could harness the power of the cloud to play a high-quality video game with beautiful graphics on an older or less powered device.
That could lead people to spend less time and money on expensive video game consoles from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo and away from expensive computers designed for gaming. In theory they could play new games instantly on any device, anywhere.
Sounds great in theory. But cloud gaming, which is still in an experimental phase, sometimes stalls due to technical problems that frustrate users. In addition, it requires a fast local internet connection.