What the Cloud Means for Gamers

For many people the cloud is associated with either something to do with the weather, or at best, connected with cloud storage providers such as Dropbox. This is unfortunate, as the cloud already permeates so many aspects of our lives and most people don’t even realize it. To those people, we would recommend checking out our breakdown of what exactly cloud computing is. Of the ones who do have basic understanding of the industry, many still don’t know how it relates specifically to them.

Therefore, we are writing a series of articles that break down more specifically how cloud computing relates to different industries. In the last article we wrote about how the cloud could be used for the non-profit industry. Today, we are writing about how the cloud is used for the gaming industry.

What is cloud gaming

Cloud gaming, also known as gaming on demand, is a type of online gaming that has two components; file streaming and video streaming. The combination of these two components allows for live, fast, and interactive game streaming.

How it works

A large part of cloud gaming is the file streaming. Files are streamed onto any computer or gaming device through the use of a thin client. The thin client is where the actual game is stored and it is hosted on the server of the game company. Put simply, instead of users running the game locally, such as from a disc or hard drive, the games are streamed via the cloud to their computer or device. A very small percentage of the game is stored on the device so the game can download quicker, much in the same way as websites store a cached version of their site on your computer so it can load faster. This allows for an almost seamless playing experience on a lower bandwidth consumption. The rest of the game is streamed live. An advantage to file streaming is that it allows you to have access to all of your games on your devices at once, wherever you are, and not have to keep changing the disks.

The second aspect of cloud gaming is the video streaming. This part works much in the same as video-on-demand services. This gives a much quicker and richer gaming experience which goes beyond the storage limitations of the computer or gaming device, as only small packets of data are stored on the device at any one time. However, as cloud gaming is internet based, this is all dependent on the bandwidth capacity of the gamer.

Who offers cloud gaming

This is a relatively new field, first launched in 2004, which gained most of its momentum since around 2009. Since cloud gaming is in the process of taking off, the list of providers keeps growing.

Some of the key players include: CiiNOW, NVIDIA, Ubitus Inc., GamingAnywhere, G-cluster Global, Gaikai (part of Sony Computer Entertainment), GFACE, Kalydo, OnLive, and Playcast Media Systems.