How the power of the cloud will evolve the gaming ecosystem
Way back in 1955 a visionary computer scientist John McCarthy laid the foundation stone of what is now known as cloud computing. It was called time-sharing – he ideated a system where an operating system could be available at the same time for multiple users independently for processing. He argued that in future the operations related to computers and their uses may be available to the general public in spaces that have shared data and processes. Fast-forward 60 years or so, we are beginning to reap the benefits of cloud computing in online data storage, big data analysis, e-commerce applications, education, gaming and so on.
One of the industries that thrived during the pandemic was the gaming industry. In fact, the gaming industry is worth USD 220 billion and is expected to grow at a rate of 13% as per the industry’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) report. Social distancing norms and lockdowns provided the perfect setup for people to turn to gaming to keep themselves entertained. As things return to normalcy, the industry’s growth has slowed due to people returning to more traditional ways of spending leisure – travel, party, social life.
Conventionally, video games were played on discs or downloaded onto devices, making memory, computing power and a gaming console a necessity. Hence the gaming activity was not deemed easy-on-the-pocket for all. The consoles, kit and devices’ cost kept it from being commonplace activity.
As cloud computing applications increased, gaming became accessible and affordable for a lot more people! Cloud-based gaming has allowed users to access games provided remotely through a cloud computing platform. Cloud computing has the capability to make gaming independent of the constraints such as console and hardware. The data centres are located remotely and yet stream the games directly onto the users’ devices. This is similar to movies or other content being streamed directly on mobiles, smart TV or laptops. The end users’ device is not a constraint for viewing.
One of the earlier constraints of cloud applicability was the need for fast, reliable and continuous networks. Now that 5G speeds and bandwidth are available, the gaming industry can rely on moving the action to the cloud. Ever since online games have been hosted on cloud-based systems, it has seen massive improvement on multiple aspects.
Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) are the online games in which a huge number of players can simultaneously play and interact with each other. The number of players capable of playing simultaneously has grown exponentially. Popular MMOs like Darklin Wars, Lost Ark and others, boast of 20 million users globally.
Consider an online game where one of the players is playing from a remote area and another from a well-connected metropolitan city. The playing ground must ensure there is no lag in the players’ connection so that a live online game is played fairly. Gaming organisations are working to provide low-latency gaming infrastructure to enable this.
The spending on individual consoles, memory, and hardware has reduced and users have to spend only on access to games and on good network connectivity/speed.
Gaming has evolved from single/double player games to games where players compete with an entire online community involving millions of players. E-sports has its own coveted tournaments and events which are viewed by e-spectators. Cloud platforms have allowed live streaming of these games in real-time, opening up avenues for revenue generation too.
Developers also use cloud-based tools like Azure and other platforms to build, collaborate and test games. Worldwide collaboration helps in accelerating the process of building and testing new games and upgrading existing versions.
The online gaming industry has been evolving in multiple ways. One of the key challenges is to change the perspective of a generation that does not see it as a healthy and good option to outdoor sports activities. However, the mushrooming of a variety of gaming sporting events, tournaments and competitions is slowly changing this mindset and the gaming industry powered by cloud computing is on a fast-growth trajectory.
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