At the Amazon conference recently hosted in Las Vegas, AppStream was unveiled as a cloud service that would offload the graphics engine onto the cloud so that lower end devices could play graphics rich games without investing in expensive hardware. While this sounds like a fantastic idea, it begs the question: is Amazon too early to the party? Tip your hat to Amazon because AppStream is a fantastic idea. The only thing that can choke up the AppStream experience is lack of bandwidth and latency.
While other parts of the world have high speed internet access available to them as the norm, America has the 9th fastest internet connection speeds according to industry analysts. While this isn’t terrible, it isn’t great either. Microsoft has toyed with the idea of releasing games where the GPU calculations are handed off to the cloud but the software giant has backed off this approach. The reasons are simple. The quality of internet speed greatly impacts a gamer’s experience and this unknown factor can make game play unpredictable, thus leading to customers who are not satisfied with the product. If the only way to access the game is through the cloud, external issues may come into play between the user and their game.
Another thing to consider is that people who will try to play games on their mobile devices using 3G and 4G data may have an unpredictable gaming experience as well. Those who are in areas with dense populations know how difficult it can be to surf from page to page on their smartphone’s web browser. Imagine playing a graphics rich version of your favorite game over such connection. This effectively anchors down the gamer to playing the game in their home or at an office. Keep in mind that broadband cable providers are trying to place monthly caps on data downloads in the USA. Public Wi-Fi connections are notorious for being slow and unpredictable therefore playing a cloud based game that requires deep thought and strategy could be foiled. AppStream is here to stay and the cloud is better for having it. With the cloud outpacing existing infrastructure, it makes you wonder: will Amazon’s cloud be the tipping point for American internet access providers to start offering fiber as the new norm?