Imagine playing a game that your current rig is nowhere near strong enough to run. Now imagine doing this in a browser window, with no lag, no resolution or performance issues, and no need to spend a fortune on hardware – instead, for a flat monthly fee. Cloud gaming sounds great in theory, right?
Google’s Stadia that was expected by everyone on the edge of their seats, promised all this but so far, it failed to deliver. Some users have reported lag and syncing issues, others complained about the service setting the screen resolution to 720p when the service promised 4K. Of course, we all understand that getting a service as big and different as Stadia right may take some time. Still, nobody expected the reviews to be this disappointing. And let’s not even go into the selection of available games, shall we? Aside from the game library of Stadia being surprisingly small at launch (then again, it did have massive titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Destiny 2). The problems didn’t stop at lag and misconfiguration. A Reddit user has reported something strange while playing NBA 2K20 on Stadia, showing that there are still many underlying issues to work out about the service that go far beyond screen resolution and the under-representation of American sports that went global in its game library.
Stadia is not the only service that offers cloud-based game streaming.
Sony has its PlayStation Now service that allows its subscribers to play hundreds of PS titles, including their exclusives, on the PS consoles and even on a Windows PC (with a DualShock controller). Nvidia has its Geforce Now that offers a similar service with PC games. Third-parties like Vortex Cloud Gaming, Shadow, and Rainway have similar offerings – a cloud-based gaming rig on which you can run games that would otherwise not run on your PC. Even with all this available, cloud-based game streaming has not taken off to this day.
While we can’t say that this form of gaming doesn’t have the support of the big names in the industry – Google, Nvidia, and Sony are big enough – there is always room for more. And starting next year, we’ll have more: Microsoft plans to launch its xCloud service next year, that will see gamers run Xbox games on their phones and tablets, and Facebook has just acquired PlayGiga, a Spanish cloud gaming company, showing that there is interest for cloud gaming already.
What cloud gaming needs to take off
If you want to be able to play in the cloud, you don’t need much: a computer, smartphone, or tablet, and a decent internet connection. The latter can be a problem for some, while in the case of the former, the idea that you can play the latest Triple-A games on a laptop that barely runs Microsoft Office can be a truly attractive idea.
But there is one thing that no cloud gaming platform (well, maybe with the exception of PS Now) has to offer right now: a big, exclusive title. Like “Half-Life: Alyx” is for Valve’s Index or “Borderlands 3” is for the Epic Game Store. And no, “Get Packed” is not enough. Perhaps when Google’s own game studio created to build Stadia-exclusive games, led by longtime EA and Ubisoft producer Jade Raymond, releases its first titles, it will get some.
Then we’ll probably hear the press talk about how 2020 is the year of cloud gaming.