Cloud gaming adoption continues to grow as players and publishers now support game play anywhere and anytime. Read about the cloud gaming ecosystem and why it will continue its meteoric growth.
Video game popularity has grown significantly since the original MIT Spacewar! game was introduced in 1962. More recently, video games have provided an essential service to millions of isolated people during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the world slowly emerges from the pandemic, many gamers will face making new choices on how they pass the time every day.
The good news is that players will be able to take their games with them and play them anywhere and anytime. This capability has grown in recent years with the advent of cloud gaming.
Cloud gaming involves accessing a network connection to play games on devices (mobile or PC) from a game client located in an edge game server with close to game console video quality and performance.
But cloud gaming is more than streaming content to devices with content delivery network (CDN) technologies (e.g., Netflix, Disney+, YouTube). Many cloud gaming services process game data at multiple levels and stream customized low-latency data to players during gaming sessions. Cloud gaming architectures are generally organized into 3 primary levels, each of which performs distinct functions:
Figure 1: Example of a Cloud Gaming Architecture (inspired by Google Cloud Platform)
Cloud gaming frontend and backend infrastructure can be organized into public and hybrid cloud configurations.
The objective of cloud gaming services is to enable local gameplay performance levels remotely by minimizing data communications (data frequency and gravity) and increasing computing near the network edge.
The cloud gaming market has grown rapidly during the past few years, from $170M in 2019 to $585M in 2020 (244% increase), with projected growth to over $4.8B in 2023. North America (39%) and Europe (29%) account for more than two-thirds of the current sales volume.
At least 15 companies are currently providing cloud gaming services, from major game publishers (e.g., Sony PlayStation Now, Xbox Cloud Gaming) and internet giants (e.g., Amazon Luna, Google Stadia, CLOUD.GOOGLE, Facebook PlayGiga) to startups (e.g., Parsec, Shadow, PlayHatch, Paperspace).
The recent growth of cloud gaming is due to several drivers:
For the player, cloud gaming provides several advantages, including:
For the Cloud Gaming service provider, benefits include:
The sustained benefits of cloud gaming are driven by our continued move toward the ubiquity of computing, mobile device usage and performance, wide content distribution, on-demand entertainment, and analytics-driven personalized player experiences. As the video game industry continues the quest for effective business models, cloud gaming will continue to disrupt the industry as we know it.