As gaming continues to evolve and become more accessible to a large spread consumer base, the industry is heading into a future that may see it become a more streamlined entertainment platform to rival Netflix and Hulu. As pointed out by Game Radar, Microsoft is looking to create a streaming service called xCloud which will allow gamers to stream Xbox games on consoles, PC’s or devices such as tablets and smart phones. OnLive in 2010 had launched a similar idea where you were able to stream high end games to a console created by them or an app but unfortunately it didn’t receive the support needed to build a sustainable following and ultimately went out of business. Fast forward and now Microsoft, Google and Amazon look to capitalize on providing subscription based stream-able game platforms.
It will work via the Cloud where you will connect to servers that will stream the game to your desired applicable device. Though limited information has been released as to when the full service will launch, Microsoft plans to begin consumer trials some time in 2019. This service will provide further options for individuals not wanting to pay for multiple home consoles to have access to games exclusive to Xbox as well as the growing community of mobile gamers. The infrastructure of a Netflix like gaming service has already been materialized by Xbox and Playstation with Xbox GamePass and PlaystationNow respectively. The only differences are these services are exclusive to their consoles with the exception of both allowing PC users to purchase the services. There are opportunities for this to be a success given the interest some have in streaming games with programs like PlaystaionNow and Xbox GamePass existing, but to what degree does this practices become the norm of how games will be purchased and played in the future?
As someone who has used Sony’s PlaystationNow Streaming service I have my concerns about this potential future for games. To begin with, to be able to stream without many interruptions the internet connectivity must be at a certain level that is not always feasible due to region restrictions. While this may not be a huge deal for some games, certain ones require a level of quick response such as shooters that would be greatly impacted by the input lag due to connectivity. There’s also the fact that you will be paying a subscription fee to have access to streaming the games. This negates you from having any ownership over any of the title and intern creates questions for how downloadable content will work under these conditions. Will this be included in the subscription price and if not how will paying for downloadable content be justified when you don’t own the rights to the game?
There are definite pros and cons to heading down this model of selling games. I just hope as consumers we do our due diligence to weigh out all the options before we completely provide our support (money) to these kinds of practices. What do you think does the streaming service of video games peak your interest? Do you believe this is a viable option to be able to have access to a large catalog of games? Also, do you believe we have the right sort of infrastructure in internet connectivity to allow for something like a “Netflix-for-games” to be successful?