Up For Debate - Cloud Gaming, Game Streaming And Gaming On Demand

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Oct 11, 2015 4:00 PM

When Sony bought Gaikai, a specialist in game streaming technology, for $380 million back in July 2012, it certainly raised a few eyebrows. Sony then dug itself even deeper into the streaming hole when it purchased failed game streaming service OnLive, only to immediately shut it down and horde the patents. We don’t know how much this deal cost, but it’s safe to say Sony has a lot of invested in streaming tech.

Which is bizarre. What we’ve got with PlayStation Now is an expensive streaming service for playing games at lower resolutions and frame rates than natively, all with some noticeable input lag and occasional artifacting. That's for £13 each and every month, enough money to head down your local store and easily pick up enough PS3 games to last you a month's gaming. OnLive has already failed pretty comprehensively, what’s changed in the meantime?

Sure, our internet connections are faster, but the fact of the matter is, there is always going to be a delay in inputs while streaming a game. Get a competitive game of Street Fighter IV on the go and the person using the installed copy is going to wipe the floor with the streamer. Nothing can travel faster than light, so there’s always going to be a minor amount of input lag.

Secondly, game ownership goes out the window. Ownership is already pretty tenuous as it is. Steam could disappear. Sony could go under. Microsoft could pull a Games for Windows Live. None of it is permanent, but renting your games leaves you with the square root of nothing. If you get hooked on The Last of Us’ multiplayer, it could cost you an insane amount of money to rent indefinitely.

I get it though, convenience is king. The thought of a massive, constantly updated library of games which you can play instantly sounds appealing. It’s the direction some people think the entire industry is headed, and on one level I can see why - You aren’t tied to the hardware in your rig, or needing a new graphics card; it’s plug and play. The problem is, is that what gamers really want?

Is cloud gaming the future?

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11:09 Oct-12-2015

I understand that it provides a way to play games that would not otherwise run on your rig, but the amount of lag associated with such services is a deal-breaker. Also the average global internet connection is too poor to smoothly stream these top games. Until it is cheaper than ownership, I think it will remain a failed idea.

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09:24 Oct-12-2015

Of course cloud gaming is the future but i imagine maybe a 100 years or so away when all media and entertainment is done through clouds.

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08:36 Oct-12-2015

to be honest this whole thing is out of common sense,
internet network is not even capable of playing 60fps 1080p YouTube videos, so how can someone thing we can play games by having them streamed across network and sending back the input (mouse, keyboard) actions without delay? as long as internet isn't free - and I'm pretty sure it never will be, because the infrastructure costs money and reaching USB 2.0 speeds would mean 500Mbit optics for every single household so requires Tbit switches every couple streets to provide that level of speeds....

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04:31 Oct-12-2015

Stop controlling us(gamers) for what best for you. Just provide us affordable good game that playable with all class of rigs.We will happy.

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04:13 Oct-12-2015

Same story than digital HD tv:
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Not conspiracy, just costly to replace all analog cameras and consoles and convert old content to digital format for future use.
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Cloud play will be a reality when fiber is affordable for the masses.

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22:32 Oct-11-2015

Putting bandwidth(which might be a problem for some people) aside:



  • Latency:
    Assuming such a service does have a server close to you(less then 1000km or 600miles) you likely have a latencty of about 25ms.


At 1000km it takes 5ms at lightspeed(200,000,000 meters per second) just to reach the server, so 10ms to get it back to you on the image. Include a proces delay on the game server, some latency at your ISPs routers and 1000km on the map also means that the actual cables might be much longer). Services farther away then 1000km(maybe less if the cables are much longer in practice) will cause to much latency, period..

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22:36 Oct-11-2015


  • Secondly the quality,
    Even if these streaming companies will offer proper 1080p streams the stream quality needs to be high, not like the "1080p" Netflix is using for example(5,5Mbit H264 streams are not enough for gaming).




  • Also the price, this might be cheaper in the short run but not long term. Or these comapines would make to much of a loss



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02:33 Oct-12-2015

Wow.

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22:15 Oct-11-2015

Even if the internet would be fast and without lag, everything would go perfect I still don't want cloud gaming. One shouldn't need internet to play games.

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21:33 Oct-11-2015

This is assuming that the nigh infinite length of copper wires currently in the ground around the world will be rooted up and converted into fiber-optics. Not only that, but governments and companies will somehow have to cover the cost of such a project... and they can only do that if we pay for it.

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21:35 Oct-11-2015

So, in short. No. Not in our lifetimes. Maybe in 100+ years when we finally fix our infrastructure and find better ways to transmit internet. Over the air, or through fiber optics.

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22:13 Oct-11-2015

Why would we need Fiber to the home for this?


A good 1080p stream(and im'talking about so good that 99% can't tell the difference between it and a loseless stream) takes about 20Mbit. Coax and even DSL can achieve these speeds easilly.

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22:31 Oct-11-2015

Really? I thought that 20Mbit would have been the bare minimum for smooth cloud gaming experience.
If it is, it would certainly be good news for me, my connection is around 20-30Mb

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22:48 Oct-11-2015

This is where H265 comes in, much more efficiënt in compressing.


Try downloading this H265 sample video (not all videoplayers support it atm though). It looks sharp while only using 2-3Mbit. Now for a game stream you want 60 instead of 24fps, but that would still only be 5Mbit tops for this video.


However this video likely still looks visibly worse then the orginal. But bumping it from 2-3Mbit to about 12Mbit(which is in turn about 16Mbit if it was 60fps) makes it close enough that most people won't see the difference ;)


Edit:
That movie sample is allready 60fps, so that means even 12-15Mbit would be enough

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15:27 Oct-12-2015

It's not just a speed problem, it's a bandwidth problem. Good luck moving all that information if everyone is doing it all at once and the current system supports a fraction of the data volume. Besides, copper wires have loads more lag than a same length fiber optic, which has data rates closer to speed of light.

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20:42 Oct-11-2015

yes, if in the future, internet become incredibly fast

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21:16 Oct-11-2015

gigabyte internet baby!

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19:18 Oct-11-2015

I don't know why, but I've got this feeling that in the future there will be a catch with this idea and we consumers are gonna suffer from it.

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19:26 Oct-11-2015

Yeah like you can't play games when your ISP is having problems, or when the stream company is having server issues. No thank you...

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20:32 Oct-11-2015

Well that too, but I was thinking more along the lines of the developers finding a way to get money of this too. A few cents each day you play or something like that. Many companies are greedy and I don't doubt this coming eventually or something similar to this.

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18:51 Oct-11-2015

No, jeez no.... Not with the latency which is always bound to be present!

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18:39 Oct-11-2015

No

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18:07 Oct-11-2015

Where is the HELL NO option?

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18:00 Oct-11-2015

Not unless everyone has fast and stable internet connection that can handle cloud gaming. I'm not sure how demanding cloud gaming is, but i'm pretty sure that most gamers don't have fast enough connection. So i'm not expecting cloud gaming to go big any time soon.
But personally i'm ready to try cloud gaming as soon as PS Now arrives to my country.

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17:41 Oct-11-2015

No, because:



  • If your power goes out, you're ****ed

  • If your internet goes out, you're ****ed

  • If the company hosting the game goes bankrupt, you're ****ed

  • If the game becomes old and unsupported, you're ****ed.

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17:33 Oct-11-2015

How is this supposed to be the future with the awful internet many people including me still have. I have 250kb/s download and there's 10% with worse internet in germany. If this is supposed to "replace" the normal buying of games the internet connection quality of many countries especially germany has to improve first

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16:56 Oct-11-2015

The problem with Game streaming (at least for now) is two-fold: bandwidth and input lag.
Not that many people are as lucky as I am to have a fast and unlimited bandwidth and access to a stable connection; although more and more people will get access to such connections in the future.
Input lag on the other hand, seems to be an intrinsic problem.
Unless we solve these two problems, cloud gaming will remain on the sideline.
That was my 2 cents.

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16:39 Oct-11-2015

Installed games on purchased media, without needing an Internet connection except for multiplayer, is the preferred method of gaming for me. All else is renting by any other name. Thus, I treasure my library of original disks and manuals.

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16:33 Oct-11-2015

My internet sucks.Not enough bandwith and disconnects frequently.Will stick to installing games but always open to the idea after our internet is much better and streaming has improved too.

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16:29 Oct-11-2015

My DSL 3000 says no.

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