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Scanning the Cloud Gaming Industry

I don’t link all companies or other things to dedicated website since there are too much. You can easily Google them.

Introduction

Cloud gaming, as wikipedia indicates, aims to provide end users frictionless and direct play-ability of games across various devices.

It’s not a category of games, but rather a technique. In this article, we survey the industry of cloud gaming (the company that takes cloud gaming as a core technique of their service), and try to draw some conclusion from our observation.

Basically, regarding the implementation method, there are two categories of cloud gaming:

As file streaming is deployed by game vendors (only several like Steam and Blizzard), we will only address video streaming.

The Companies

We have reviewed 20+ companies related with cloud gaming. Roughly, they can be classified into two categories:

Established ones include game devices companies like SONY and Nintendo, and game platform or library companies like Nvidia and Steam. SONY’s PlayStation Now, Nintendo’s Off-TV Play and Steam’s In-Home Streaming extend their game experience from powerful devices to mobile (or less-powerful) device - streaming from a “workstation” at home. In this way, people can play games on their portable device such as PlayStation Vita, so that SONY and Nintendo can compete with smartphone on gaming experience. SONY even requires game developers to adapt to their platforms. Different from these two, Nvidia GeForce NOW streams video from gaming server as they have powerful graphics cards.

Startup ones are very similar with Nvidia, all of them stream video from gaming server. Some (GameFly, Snoost and Vortes) provide a game library which user can access without need to purchasing each game in addition - sort-like a reseller of the games. The other ones (Paperspace, Lead Computing and 达龙云电脑) are actually provide virtual desktop service - stream desktop to user, and user can run games in the desktop.

For the infrastructure perspective, companies like SONY requires specific device owned by user (game controller for example); some startups provide browser plugins to connect to gaming server, e.g. Kalydo; others have dedicated client program to receive the video stream, e.g. 格来云.

All the server-based companies stream Windows games. They declare that they provide Windows games on non-Windows platforms; or they provide great game experience on low-end devices. End-users are supposed to pay the subscription per month usually.

Observation and Comment

As we can see from the wiki of Cloud gaming, most of the “References” are of 2010-2013 when NetBook was popular. I guess cloud gaming (server streaming) is proposed to be part of the netbook industry since netbook (which is thin client) is of low performance.

In recent years, cloud gaming is still hot. I guess it’s because products like PlayStation NOW keeps evolving.

However, I don’t believe the idea of “bring some core experience to low-end devices”. By this, I mean for different categories of devices, they have different and very unique experience and values. For example, smartphones have unique value when they are integrated with “mobile internet” because they make the Internet mobile and create various and numerous applications and ecosystems. When some PC guy is working on introducing PC’s unique experience (e.g. Office ability) to smartphones, he is not introducing unique value to mobile industry, he is trying to make PC live a little longer - holding back the mobile evolution.

Yes, people CAN handle office things or watch a movie on their phones, but it really does NOT matter very much. The mobile gaming, location based service, immediate communication and e.t.c. are the core and unique value of mobile devices to people. Great success is less likely to happen when you are trying to “bring some core experience to low-end devices”.

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