Media and Entertainment

Cloud gaming and the future of social interactive media

As I ride my dirt bike across the rocky road and fly between mountains, I see my friends chasing me. Faster, faster, I think. I make a bumpy landing on the next mountain. And, I am the last player standing after the battle. As I savour the moment, my phone beeps a notification. Oops. It’s time for my next meeting. As I switch tabs on my computer, I sigh. It’s time to head back to the real world. Fortnite, for another time, maybe tonight, as I unwind. As you may have guessed, I just finished playing Fortnite on XBox Cloud Gaming, which pretty much allows me to instantly play on iOS, Android and other supported devices, without having me download the game.

While gaming has been expanding into the cloud for a while now, with several services, updates and accounts on the cloud, the game itself is usually downloaded to the user’s device – usually on a console, a PC or smartphone, as the case may be. In cloud gaming, the user need not download the game onto the device. The game itself lives on the cloud, and the user usually just needs to create an account, either as a free or paid subscription, to access the game. In the recent past, streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime and Spotify have revolutionised our perception and expectations of on-demand entertainment. Video gaming on the cloud is yet to have its moment, but is expected to soon become a killer app. The global cloud gaming market size  is estimated  to reach $21,954 million by 2030, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 57.4 per cent.

How cloud gaming works

So far, games have been downloaded and executed on the user’s device, allowing for optimisation and the best user experience. In cloud gaming, the game executes in the cloud, and the view is sent to the user’s device. With cloud gaming, users need not invest in expensive hardware to have ready access to games. Users also need not download or update games. From the game companies’ perspective, they need not provide features to download games or manage updates across devices. They have direct access to player data, and are able to offer recommendations based on players’ abilities and interests.

Cloud gaming services stream the game view to the user’s device and are dependent on the network speed and bandwidth. They are also dependent on the capabilities of the content delivery network (CDN), and the user’s connectivity. Since games are a real-time experience, they need networks that offer low latency. With every player seeking a different view, the demands on the network and cloud computing rise exponentially when there are thousands of players accessing the game at the same time.

Building a socially interactive gaming service

The availability of global CDNs,  with the rollout of 5G services worldwide, technology innovations and ample storage on the cloud are driving the growth of cloud gaming services. The requirements of game streaming change based on the types of gamers.

Mobile gamers are the easiest target for gaming services, as these games are typically single-player, not too demanding of the network, and have simple interfaces that fit well on the user’s device. Immersive gamers look forward to realism, with interactive AI-avatars bringing the game alive, so to speak. Such gamers would look forward to rich, immersive experiences with narratives and stories. Moving such games to the cloud can be challenging as there are dependencies on CDN capability, network bandwidth and the latency, besides the cloud computing power and the ability to execute the game for several thousands, or even millions of users.

The stakes rise with esports or competitive video gaming, where both professional esports players or amateur players battle it out for titles and rewards. Hugely popular both amongst gamers and spectators, the esports market industry is estimated to grow from USD 1.44 billion in 2022 to USD 5.48 billion by 2029, with a CAGR of 21 per cent during the forecast period. There are several revenue opportunities with advertisers, besides sustained engagement with gamers and the audience, making it a lucrative business model.

Innovations in cloud computing*, the growing cloud infrastructure and CDN, and the availability of 5G are driving the momentum of cloud gaming services.  Top players in the gaming services industry  include NVIDIA GEForce Now, XBox Cloud Gaming, Playstation NOW, and Shadow. These  services offer their own proprietary games on a subscription model, but could also include partnerships between gaming companies and the service providers that host the game. For instance, Fortnite from EPIC games is offered on the XBox Cloud gaming service.

Cloud gaming services can offer highly immersive and interactive experiences by featuring celebrities and influencers, including audience participation and hosting global competitive events. These changes could introduce new business models, and enable a fluid and interactive form of social entertainment with high revenue and marketing potential.

*For organizations on the digital transformation journey, agility is key in responding to a rapidly changing technology and business landscape. Now more than ever, it is crucial to deliver and exceed on organizational expectations with a robust digital mindset backed by innovation. Enabling businesses to sense, learn, respond, and evolve like a living organism, will be imperative for business excellence going forward. A comprehensive, yet modular suite of services is doing exactly that. Equipping organizations with intuitive decision-making automatically at scale, actionable insights based on real-time solutions, anytime/anywhere experience, and in-depth data visibility across functions leading to hyper-productivity, Live Enterprise is building connected organizations that are innovating collaboratively for the future.

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