The next big development in the world of gaming may almost be here, with experts forecasting a seismic shift towards cloud-based gaming in the next decade. This could spark new rivalries between competitors in a way that hasn’t been seen since the first PlayStation versus Xbox battle for dominance. While those console lines have now become gaming juggernauts, cloud gaming could turn players back to their computers.
Dave Altavilla, writing for Forbes, went as far as predicting that consoles could soon become a thing of the past as people connect to the cloud via PCs or mobile devices. With several big-hitters pumping money into cloud gaming, that prediction may prove prescient. Google’s Stadia, Microsoft’s xCloud and Sony’s PlayStation Now are all looking to become the world’s leading game streaming service.
The likes of Amazon and Verizon are also mooted to be getting involved in the world of cloud gaming, a clear indication of where the future of gaming is heading. High-end gaming used to be the preserve of those with the latest consoles or powerful CPUs, but this may no longer be the case. For example, Google Stadia will only require a network connection and Chrome functionality for users to access the streaming service. This could see an increasing number of gamers using laptops rather than consoles.
While there are those who have remained steadfast in their loyalty to computers during the past two decades, there is no denying that the rise of consoles appeared to have permanently revolutionized the way we participate in gaming. The ease in which multiplayer gaming can be facilitated has been one of the strongest selling points of consoles. Also, the better functionality of vast open world games made many turn to PlayStation and Xbox for their gaming fix.
Open world games like Skyrim could still be enjoyed on a PC, but a substantial amount of power was required to run that type of game at full capacity. However, some genres of games have thrived on computers despite the rise of consoles. Many simulation games are more at home on a PC than a console. The popular simulation series Football Manager’s spreadsheet-esque interface doesn’t translate well to a console, while The Sims series has always benefited from the easy point-and-click of a computer mouse.
The comparatively low-tech requirements of online slots have made this another genre of game that is predominantly played via computers. While 3D video elements can surround slots reels with interactive graphics and detailed animations, the straightforward core gameplay means that slots can be accessed on even the most basic laptop. Similarly, classic card games like Solitaire and Hearts are staples of computer gaming, with their simplistic gameplay not conducive to consoles.
However, cloud gaming could revolutionize the types of games that people primarily engage with on computers. The nature of the cloud means that even those with non-specialized computing devices will be able to enjoy cutting-edge titles. The biggest restriction will be network connectivity, although continual developments in the provision of Wi-Fi should combat that problem.
It will be interesting to see just how viable cloud gaming is on a global scale, and whether it will open up new possibilities to a much bigger audience. Whether it is Google, Microsoft or Sony who come up the perfect formula for cloud gaming (or perhaps none of those), it promises to be an intriguing few years. Console gaming could even become a nostalgic pursuit rather than the premium gaming experience.