Well, we know what traditional gaming is all about: we buy a game, then download it to our computer, smartphone or console. And we play. Simple. Cloud gaming is something similar. The difference is that we don’t need all that hardware. All we need is a monitor and access to the Internet.
The cloud is a network of interconnected servers – powerful, in terms of hardware and system, computers, located in a secure data center. On these servers there is everything that is needed to run the game. The whole process and visualization of the game takes place remotely. The game is streamed over the internet. Remote use of computing power (among other things, thanks to powerful graphics cards, a large amount of RAM) allows players to play games that look better and run faster.
First, we need to buy a subscription to the service we are interested in, thus we get access to a remote server. After launching the game, the video stream from this game is sent to the device on which the game is played. This can be a PC, laptop, smartphone, xbox or a regular tablet. It can be compared to watching a movie (by the way Netflix and other services that provide a wide range of movies and series also work in the cloud, this is where it all started), which in this case is interactive and you can control the movements of the characters using your keyboard or gamepad. Every reaction from the player is a signal sent to the remote computer. Each signal updates the game state. All this happens in milliseconds. A cloud gaming session feels like it’s local – like everything is happening on your computer.
Unfortunately, even though technology has advanced in recent years, there are still barriers that have yet to be overcome.
We live in a universe where sending data is limited, if only by the speed of light. The farther away the device connected to the server is, the higher the latency will be. In some games (especially multiplayer games) even a millisecond delay can tip the balance of power in favor of the opponent. Right now, we have virtually nothing on the Internet that requires the use of true real-time every millisecond. Cloud gaming may be one of the most challenging areas in this regard.
The second problem is the large number of players using the same cloud at the same time. When too many external devices want to connect to the server, a kind of traffic jam is created and the service starts sending signals with a delay and runs slower. Companies have different strategies to solve this problem. One is special routers that have rules that determine the priority of given movements – for example, movements of ongoing games are treated as more important than movements of starting new games. Another solution is to build servers in strategic locations so that players are as close as possible to the data centers where the most interesting games are located.
Another issue that affects not only the quality but also the availability of cloud gaming technology is internet limitations. During standard PC gaming, data processing and graphics loading are done locally, making latency issues unnoticeable. For a cloud gaming service to run smoothly, the player must have a stable and fast internet connection. The weaker the internet, the higher the latency. In some areas of our country the internet speed is still at such a low level that cloud gaming becomes impossible.
Finally, a brief discussion of the three services officially available in Poland: Google Stadia, Microsoft Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Nvidia GeForce Now.
|Microsoft Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
|Nvidia GeForce Now
|month: 39 PLN year
: 468 PLNAdditionally
4K resolution and 34 free games in subscription
|month: 54.99 PLNyear: 659,88 PLNfirst month costs 4 PLN
|month: 25 PLNyear: 250 PLNfirst month free with a six-month subscription
|10 Mbps and Chrome browser/ Android 6.0/ Chromecast Ultra
|10 Mbps, smartphone/tablet with Android 6.0
|15 Mbps, Windows 7 (64 Bit)+/ MacOs 10.10/ Android 5.0/ Chromebook/ NVIDIA Shield
|34 included games,116 total games
|all 193 games included in subscription price
|no games included in the service.Steam integration possible
free games, no 4K
|YES, game time limited to 1h
Just a few years ago, we wouldn’t have dreamed of gaming at a high level without investing in cosmically expensive hardware. Now, technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that it has become possible. Cloud gaming allows you to enjoy the game on a simple laptop or smartphone. The only thing we need is a stable and relatively fast internet connection. At the moment, in some places in Poland this may be a fundamental problem, but we look with hope to the developing 5G technology. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that a new promising service from Sony PS NOW will soon be officially launched on the Polish market. What more: let’s play!
Main article photo: Designed by Freepik