Cloud Games: Playtime Just Got Scalable

Cloud and Call of Duty

Cloud has changed the way we play games, like Call of Duty. (Photo credit: Examiner.com)

From Call of Duty to FarmVille, cloud has fundamentally changed the way we play games. Gartner analysts predict that worldwide spending on online gaming and cloud gaming services will surpass gaming hardware spending by 2015, mirroring the current cloud migration trend in IT.

In a guest post at VentureBeat, CiiNOW’s Chris Donahue says that “the capabilities of cloud gaming are poised to dramatically impact the way the industry engages with the opportunity of games — from service providers, to game publishers, to consumers.”

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Cloud gaming sites and companies rely on a remote-access model, not unlike the delivery platform model championed by most software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers. And since hardcore gamers tend to be both voracious and vociferous consumers, videogame and app developers depend on hosting solutions that support maximum uptime and low latency.

Many have singled out latency as the single greatest barrier to the success of cloud gaming. To that end, it’s critical that developers consider the many factors that can contribute to latency — among them are VM specs, equipment layers, auto-scaling, and load balancing, as well as a geodiverse footprint for faster delivery— when selecting a cloud solution and evaluating service providers (and, by extension, their vendor partners).

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Of course, the success of cloud gaming is also tied to bandwidth, which is more the scepter of ISPs than cloud providers. Microsoft Studios’ Phil Spencer recently told EuroGamer.net that bandwidth issues —in particular, those related to metering and ISP caps — continue to stifle cloud gaming.

Overall, though, ExtremeTech’s Sebastian Anthony expects cloud gaming will only get better with time. “In much the same way that cloud computing and storage has exploded in the last few years, cloud gaming will follow suit,” Anthony says. “Cloud gaming, like cloud computing, digital downloads, and streaming video, simply has too many benefits to ignore.”

By Jake Gardner

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