Playing In The Clouds: A Gamer’s New Paradise
Long ago and far away, the home game of Pong brought families together around the television that up until then was only accomplished by a celebrity’s death, a monumental speech, or the moon landing. From there, the game console industry began to grow by leaps and bounds. Soon enough, names like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Super Mario became commonplace. As the gaming and game hardware technology advanced, possibilities opened up that could never been imagined—such as multiplayer games, networked gaming, and team conferencing. Cloud gaming, the greatest innovation since World of Warcraft, is causing a flurry of activity in gaming forums around the world.
Cloud gaming is a service that uses a high speed Internet connection to stream games to a subscriber’s technology device of choice. For many gamers, gaming depends on a specific console device, such as a Wii or an Xbox, and the only possibility for playing games at another location involves packing up the console and setting it up elsewhere.
Gaikai, a cloud gaming company, which was purchased a few months ago by Sony Entertainment, offered the streaming model that allowed subscribers to stream games to their computers, smart digital televisions and tablets. The games were run inside of web browsers, using Java or Adobe Flash. With the purchase by Sony, there are rumours that the next itineration of the PlayStation might be totally cloud-streaming based.
Another player on the cloud gaming field is OnLive. OnLive offers the service on devices running Microsoft, Mac, or Android operating system. It is possible to play the games on an HDTV, but this requires purchasing OnLive’s gaming console system, which is composed of an Xbox-like controller and a television adapter. The OnLive catalog features over 200 games, including popular titles like the Assassin’s Creed series, Hitman, Tomb Raider, and Oddworld.
One of the main drawbacks of cloud gaming, which is beyond the control of the cloud gaming service provider, is the connection between the gaming servers and the end subscriber. The servers running the games are high-quality-calibre machines, but the Internet pipe that runs between the two points may not be able to handle the compression and transfer rates required to render the high density graphics. This makes the cloud gaming service market somewhat limited, unless there is sufficient demand from Internet service provider clients to upgrade the infrastructure.
Could cloud gaming be the end of game cartridges, CDs/DVDs, and proprietary consoles? The answer might very well remain clouded—at least for now.
By Robin Berry
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