Will Cloud Gaming Kill Consoles?

Friday, February 12, 2021

Cloud gaming is hitting the ground running in 2021. After a big year of growth in 2020, the cloud gaming industry is looking like it won’t be slowing down at all. For years now people in the gaming sector have speculated about the potential for cloud gaming to be the next evolution of gaming. With the huge leaps it has taken over the last year, people are now seriously asking the question, will cloud gaming kill consoles? And if so, is that time now?

This article will look closer at what cloud gaming is, why it has got so much more popular, and if it can actually topple the all mighty games console from its spot at the top of the pile of the gaming industry.

So to get started, let’s explain a little bit more about what we’re talking about.

What is cloud gaming?

Cloud gaming makes use of cloud technology and infrastructure to bring people their video games via the internet. A simple comparison that a lot of people use is that cloud gaming is like Netflix for video games instead of tv shows and films.

The entire gaming experience is conducted over the internet. This means that all of the processing that a console would usually do, is now completed remotely by a server. In the past this caused some issues because the amount of data that had to be processed rapidly for a player to have a smooth and satisfying gaming experience was too much for the cloud to handle. As technology has progressed, this has improved dramatically, now leading to the point where most casual gamers wouldn’t notice a difference in performance.

What are some of the benefits of cloud gaming?

There are a few reasons that people are turning to cloud gaming. The first is that there is a lower upfront cost compared to console gaming. Instead of having to pay a large fee to get a console and games, all you have to do is pay a subscription to the cloud gaming service.

Secondly, you can play anywhere and at any time. All you need is an internet connection and a compatible device and you can play your games, with all your saved data, from anywhere. This is a big difference to console gaming, where it’s a lot harder to be so mobile.

What are the downsides to cloud gaming?

While there are a lot of benefits to cloud gaming, there are some elements to it that make people hesitant to completely jump ship. One of them is that some cloud gaming models don’t require a person to buy a game, you pay a subscription and get access to a library. On one side of the coin this is great, but the other is that you could lose access to that game at any point if it’s no longer part of the service or the cloud company stops operating. There are other cloud models that work differently to this though, such as with Geforce Now.

For the serious gamers out there, there are still some questions around the performance of cloud gaming compared to consoles. While this might be the case, for the majority of players, they will not be able to tell much. Alongside this, gamers love to debate about the superiority of their gaming platform. So even if the technology was completely equal technically, you would expect to hear some performance based put downs at some point in the conversation.

So with this in mind, let’s ask the question:

Will Cloud Gaming Kill Consoles?

If we look at other industries, there has been a definite trend over the last few years for cloud technology to take a significant stake in the market. For instance, film, TV and music have all been completely overturned by the cloud. 

One of the biggest selling points of cloud gaming is that it makes a lot more devices capable of playing video games. This has been amazing for the industry in terms of getting more people playing games. However it does pose a risk to the traditional hardware that people play games on. With cloud gaming, a lot more devices can be played on, as long as they have an internet connection and are compatible.

The big players in the console industry namely Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, still have a very strong foothold and are also expanding their offering into the market. With this in mind, it is unlikely that they will be relinquishing the foundations of their ecosystem, which is the console, anytime soon. However it could be a gradual migration.

What could bring more rapid change is if an emerging business were able to become a catalyst for this change. There are some significant companies that have entered into this sphere, such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook. However at present the threat to consoles is not imminent, but does look to be on the horizon.