Cloud gaming services are being launched around the world that are transforming tablets into gaming machines and taking the long downloads out of digital games, but is this the future?
There’s no doubt that the gaming world is evolving. Digital distributors like Valve’s Steam and EA’s Origin are competing for downloads as consumers drop physical discs for online direct downloads. Game developers are fighting the threat of second-hand game sales by introducing one-off content codes on physical game discs at the same time.
Introducing video game streaming services like OnLive and The Happy Cloud.
These new cloud services work by running pre-installed games off a server that streams the content onto a users’ TV, computer or tablet. So instead of running a game off a console, the entire hardware grunt is off-site, otherwise relying on the speed of your broadband.
The Happy Cloud has jumped in bed with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to bring gaming-on-demand content to Internet-enabled ‘smart’ TVs in a similar way to video-on-demand services.
Their system works by installing an initially playable version of the game on a connected TV that would be supported by an AMD-chip. Then, as the game is being played, clever technology picks and chooses which files need to be downloaded and installed in the background to make everything run smoothly.
While it is not be a viable option for most TVs and set top boxes yet, the service works on ordinary PCs as well. The company is looking to TV manufacturers at the moment to license its technology to see a major roll-out of its services in 2012, requiring embedded AMD G-Series chips with low-power CPUs and DirectX 11 graphics capabilities.
It also says that an upcoming partner agreement will give it a catalogue of over 2,000 games.
On the streaming side are services like OnLive which was just released in the UK last week, giving gamers access to blockbuster titles like the new Deus Ex title. Services like this require a constant, high-speed broadband connection though, but run through a receiver on an OnLive server rather than installing anything on your own hardware.
Gaming industry reps and experts recently met in Los Angeles for the 3D Gaming Summit where presenters “explained why cloud gaming, augmented reality and social games are the future of this $74 billion global industry,” according to the conference’s content advisor, John Gaudiosi.