Google and Microsoft are bringing Cloud Gaming to the Masses

You might have read in the news that Google and Microsoft are both preparing to launch Cloud Gaming services. The details of each proposition are interesting and worth reading, but the real story here is that Cloud Gaming is going Mainstream. And it’s coming this year.

Cloud Gaming is for everyone

Cloud Gaming has been a thing for many years now. It’s first big push came when Onlive launched their service in 2010. While they nailed the core concepts behind Cloud Gaming, they were a little early. Consumers were interested, but the technology wasn’t ready.

We need to fast forward to 2013 to see Cloud Gaming take it’s next big step. 2013 was the year that Nvidia launched their Grid Cloud Gaming service for Nvidia Shield devices. It offered a limited selection of games, but was stable and well-received by gamers. In 2017 Nvidia evolved this service and started calling it GeForce Now. It would actually be fair to say that the true birth of serious Cloud Gaming began in 2017.

In addition to GeForce Now, we began to see the rise of smaller Cloud Gaming services. Companies like Parsec and Paperspace provided powerful options to gamers. And that was just the beginning. Throughout 2017 and 2018 we enjoyed a whole slew of new Cloud Gaming services like Shadow, Vortex, and LiquidSky. It became clear that Cloud Gaming is here to stay. The problem is that Cloud Gaming is still largely unknown. It needs to be promoted by someone big before it will really start to grow.

Google and Microsoft embrace Cloud Gaming

It will indeed take someone big to bring visibility to Cloud Gaming, and that’s exactly what is happening this year. Both Google and Microsoft made announcements during 2019’s GDC conference about their plans for Cloud Gaming.

Google is launching a social-centric service that they’re calling Stadia. It’s a full Cloud Gaming service that runs in your Google Chrome browser. Google plans to find creative ways of tying it in with Social Media and with YouTube.

In contrast, Microsoft is going all in with a Cloud Gaming service that resembles traditional console gaming. They’re calling it Project xCloud, and it will be released under their Xbox brand. Project xCloud is all about making gaming as accessible as possible. They plan to make it available on Xbox consoles and through mobile devices.

Gaming as a Service

The real prize that Cloud Gaming offers is accessibility. Traditional gaming requires a significant investment in specialized hardware. This limits the audience that can take advantage of it. Companies like Microsoft and Google are investing in Cloud Gaming because it expands their reach.

Instead of needing to first sell you a console or a computer, Cloud Gaming services can get you started with what you already have (even if that’s just a smartphone). It’s as simple as downloading an App or opening up a website. It lowers the barrier-of-entry that has always existed in the gaming industry. Anyone that is interested can easily have a great gaming experience.

The result is that each platform has a significantly larger reach. It also opens the door to developers selling their games directly through a website or an App. The possibilities are diverse.

What about the little guy?

We mentioned at the beginning of the article that Cloud Gaming has historically been powered by small startups and companies. These smaller companies are the backbone of what Cloud Gaming is today. So now that bigger players are entering the scene, what happens to all of these smaller companies?

It’s true that it will be difficult for a smaller company to compete with the reach and resources of a giant like Google or Microsoft. But with that said, we can look at history to see how smaller companies survive in a market that is dominated by somebody larger.

Smaller companies can thrive by specializing in something that the larger company isn’t interested in. In the context of Cloud Gaming, it could mean that a smaller company targets platforms that aren’t addressed by the bigger company. A smaller company could also develop technologies that allow them operate at significantly lower price points. And then there is always the possibility that a smaller company taps out and sells their resources or technologies to the larger company.

The message here is that the presence of Microsoft and Google isn’t necessarily bad for smaller Cloud Gaming companies. Many of them are actually excited about the exposure that they will receive because of Microsoft and Google. We will have to wait and see what happens in the future.

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