Streaming games era nears
December 7, 2018 -- Video gamers are on the verge of a seismic transformation that could see once-dominant consoles renedered obsolete by streaming services.
For over four decades home entertainment has been a brutal fight between competing games consoles, now Microsoft’s Project xCloud, Google’s Project Stream and experiments by Nintendo are allowing gamers to play blockbuster games over the internet using cloud technology.
In the near future, gamers using cloud technology could theoretically stream, rather than download, high-end games and play them in real time over the web on any device, just as they might watch a Netflix drama series.
The implications of cloud gaming are enormous. The console model is based on control of the medium through which the principal revenue stream, games, are channelled. If the medium is rendered irrelevant by cloud gaming, AAA games studios like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and Activision may decide to cut-out the middleman.
Sony and Nintendo are both games makers and may find a profitable cloud model, and Microsoft has been buying up games studios to give itself a stronger in-house portfolio.
Upcoming 5G broadband could speed up the process too, and diminish the need for a costly high-powered box sitting under the television – but in so doing pose a major threat to a global consoles market worth $34bn a year in hardware and software sales.
After eight cycles of consoles, the industry may now be readying the last generation of devices that can realistically use that name.