Most of the discussions about game streaming focus on bringing existing products to streaming. Google’s Stadia announcement in March 2019 was mostly about bringing PC/console games like Assassin’s Creed, DOOM and NBA 2K to streaming. But game streaming has not gained momentum even during the pandemic, when many game companies have increased profits.
Cloud gaming provides growth opportunities for companies without a game platform or huge technical infrastructure. But we need to focus on creating new experiences, not bringing existing products and business models to streaming.
Cloud computing, not cloud gaming
Google’s approach is understandable if you look at the announcement as a technical demonstration, not a presentation towards wide audiences. They picked the most challenging technical issues to present how they can solve these problems better. They picked existing titles to let developers easily understand what they are capable of. The location of the announcement, which was at the Game Developers Conference, shows that their main target was developers, not gamers.
The same can be said for Amazon’s Luna and Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud gaming. They already have thousands of clients for their cloud computing services, and games are just one of them. Their motivation is to grow their cloud services, not creating a gaming service towards end users.
High FPS titles are not for cloud gaming
Some say cloud gaming will not come soon because of its technical difficulties. Building an infrastructure suitable for high FPS (frames per second) titles does take time, because you need both the high speed network and high computing data centers nearby.
But is cloud gaming only for computationally heavy titles? Should we wait until high speed networks and data centers spread all over the world?
Cloud gaming is not only for AAA titles. Rather, light weight games might grasp the opportunity earlier, because they don’t require high speed network and data centers. But to do this, they need to create new experiences, not bringing existing ones.
Cloud gaming does not have a pioneer, yet.
Game developers have relied heavily on game console manufacturers and platforms in creating new gaming experiences. Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have done most of the work creating new experiences for console games, because they need to sell their hardwares. Game developers didn’t have to pioneer new experiences with Android and iOS too, becuase smartphones spread quickly with attractive features regardless of gaming.
But cloud gaming does not have a leader. Game console manufacturers won’t guide developers, and cloud service providers will not create new experiences. For the first time, game developers will have the power to pioneer a new gaming market no one has ever seen.
Doors are open to companies outside the game industry too. Entertainment brands such as Disney may create an interactive service blending games, movies, animations, theme parks and shops. Social communication services such as Snapchat, which already have games, might combine controller native games with their mobile experiences.
In any case, the focus is on creating new experiences, not bringing the old. Creative game design is a must, but surely there are many awesome game designers out there looking at these possibilities. All we need is the vision and courage to invest.