Cloud gaming, sometimes called gaming on demand or gaming-as-a-service, is a type of online gaming that runs games on remote servers and streams them directly to a user’s device, or more colloquially, playing a game remotely from a cloud.
Cloud gaming platforms operate in a similar manner to remote desktops and video on demand services; games are stored and executed remotely on a provider's dedicated hardware, and streamed as video to a player's device via client software. The client software handles the player's inputs, which are sent back to the server and executed in-game. Some cloud gaming services are based on access to a virtualized Windows environment, allowing users to download and install service clients and games as they normally would on a local computer.
This approach provides several advantages, including making the game accessible on-demand without the need to download and install it locally, and on a wider range of devices (including mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, digital media players, or a proprietary thin client-like device) due to lower hardware requirements over running the game locally. Some services may offer additional features to take advantage of this model, including the ability for a viewer to join a player's session and temporarily take control of the game.
Cloud gaming requires significant infrastructure for the services to work as intended, including datacenters and server farms for running the games, and high-bandwidth internet connections with low latency for delivering the streams to users. The network infrastructure required to make cloud gaming feasible was, for many years, not available in most geographic areas, or unavailable to consumer markets. Due to their dependency on high-quality streaming video, the ability to use a service regularly may also be limited by data caps enforced by some internet service providers.
A major factor in the quality of a cloud gaming service is latency, as the amount of delay between the user's inputs and when they take effect can affect gameplay — especially in fast-paced games dependent on precise inputs (such as first-person shooters and fighting games).
In 2000, G-cluster demonstrated cloud gaming technology at E3. The original offering was cloud gaming service over Wi-Fi to handheld devices. Video game developer Crytek began the research on a cloud gaming system in 2005 for Crysis, but halted development in 2007 to wait until the infrastructure and cable Internet providers were able to complete the task.
OnLive was officially launched in March 2010, and its game service began in June with the sale of its OnLive microconsole. On April 2, 2015, OnLive's intellectual property was acquired by Sony Interactive Entertainment, and the service was shut down at the end of the month. Its assets were used as the basis of a cloud gaming service within its PlayStation product family, known as PlayStation Now.
Another cloud gaming startup, Gaikai, launched in 2012; the company focused on using cloud gaming as a form of online advertising for games, where users would be able to access demos of games streamed from its servers, usually via purchased advertising or online retailers. Gaikai was acquired by Sony Interactive Entertainment in 2012.
In 2013, Nvidia introduced GRID, later branded as GeForce Now, as a cloud gaming service as part of its Nvidia Shield Android TV device. The company began expanding the service to computers in 2017, including support for importing a user's Steam library to run on the remote instance.
In 2017, the French startup Blade launched a service known as Shadow, where users are able to rent a remote Windows 10 instance on a datacenter, with allocated access to an Intel Xeon processor and Nvidia Quadro graphics. The service is geographically-limited based on proximity to one of its datacenters; it initially launched in France, but began expanding into the United States in 2019.
In May 2018, Electronic Arts acquired cloud gaming assets and talent from GameFly for an undisclosed amount. EA subsequently announced "Project Atlas", a project to explore the integration of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Frostbite engine technology to create a "unified" platform to "remotely process and stream blockbuster, multiplayer HD games with the lowest possible latency, and also to unlock even more possibilities for dynamic social and cross-platform play." That month, Google and Microsoft also announced cloud gaming initiatives, with Google beginning to pilot "Project Stream" (including a closed beta featuring Assassin's Creed Odyssey running via a client in the Google Chrome web browser, and Microsoft announced the upcoming Project xCloud, leveraging Microsoft Azure technology.
At the Game Developers Conference in 2019, Google officially announced its cloud gaming service Stadia, which officially launched on November 19 of that year. In May, Sony announced a partnership with Microsoft to co-develop cloud solutions between divisions, including gaming.
GPU resource sharing
A proposed method to improve game streaming's scalability is adaptive graphics processing unit (GPU) resource scheduling. Most cloud gaming providers are using dedicated GPUs to each person playing a game. This leads to the best performance but can waste resources. With better GPU resource scheduling algorithms, if the game does not fully utilize that GPU it can be used to help run someone else’s game simultaneously. In the past, “GPU virtualization was not used due to the inferior performance of the resource scheduling algorithm”. However new resource management algorithms have been developed that can allow up to 90% of the GPUs original power to be utilized even while being split among many users.
Algorithms could be used to help predict a player's next inputs, which could overcome the impact of latency in cloud gaming applications. Stadia's head of engineering Majd Bakar foresaw the future possibility of using such a concept to "[reduce] latency to the point where it's basically nonexistent", referring to this concept as "negative latency".
- Cloud computing
- Remote mobile virtualization for mobile gaming as a service
- Video game
- Stream processing
- Streaming media
- Real-time data
- www.digitaltrends.com https://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/cloud-gaming-vs-console-gaming/. Retrieved 2019-10-28. Missing or empty
- "Cloud gaming streaming services set to change your game - Latest News | Gadgets Now". Gadget Now. 2019-10-27. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
- Enderle, Rob (2019-10-11). "Is xCloud – the Xbox game streaming service – a glimpse at the future of the desktop?". Computerworld. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- "The Shadow Ghost turns cloud gaming into a seamless experience". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- "Nvidia announces GeForce Now streaming service for PCs with pay-per-minute gaming". ExtremeTech. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
- "Nvidia brings GeForce Now game streaming to any PC or Mac". Ars Technica. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
- "Cloud gaming platform Shadow brings its new plans to the US". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- Warren, Tom (2019-06-19). "What is cloud gaming? Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud explained". The Verge. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- Nelius, Joanna (2019-03-05). "What you need to know about the current state of cloud gaming". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
- Gilliam, Ryan (2019-03-19). "Stadia lets streamers play games with their viewers". Polygon. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
- Chen, Kuan-Ta (February 4, 2014). "On the Quality of Service of Cloud Gaming Systems". IEEE Transactions on Multimedia. 16.
- "Data caps must die: How Google and Microsoft's cloud gaming ambitions could conquer ISP greed". PCWorld. 2019-03-22. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- "Report: Google Stadia Cloud Gamers Poised to Exceed Internet Data Caps -". Telecompetitor. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- "What latency feels like on Google's Stadia cloud gaming platform". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- Graft, Kris. "Stadia delivers on low-latency, high quality cloud gaming - but is that enough?". Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- "The past and future of cloud gaming: Will it ever work?". Gamecrate. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- Dobra, Andrei (April 27, 2009). "Crytek Attempted Cloud Gaming Way Before OnLive". Softpedia. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
- Perlman, Steve (2010-03-10). "OnLive: Coming to a Screen Near You". OnLive.com. Archived from the original on 2010-03-12. Retrieved 2010-03-10.
- Shiels, Maggie (2010-03-11). "'Console killer' OnLive to launch in June". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
- Lowensohn, Josh (2015-04-02). "Sony buys streaming games service OnLive only to shut it down". The Verge. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- Hollister, Sean (2019-12-05). "How Sony bought, and squandered, the future of gaming". The Verge. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- "Gaikai enters closed beta, we get an exclusive first look". Engadget. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- "NVIDIA Shield TV review: the best Android set-top box you can buy". Engadget. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
- "NVIDIA's GeForce NOW - GRID Cloud Gaming Service Goes the Subscription Way". Anandtech. Purch, Inc. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
- "Nvidia finally launches GeForce Now cloud gaming for Shield set-top console". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
- Warren, Tom (2018-01-08). "This app can transform your cheap laptop into a gaming PC". The Verge. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- Musil, Steven. "EA acquires GameFly subsidiary's cloud technology assets". CNET. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- "EA embraces game streaming with its new 'Project Atlas' engine". Engadget. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- Lanier, Liz (2018-10-30). "More Than 1,000 Employees Working on EA's Project Atlas Cloud Gaming Service". Variety. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- Etienne, Stefan (2018-10-08). "Google's Project Stream is a working preview of the future of game streaming". The Verge. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- Singleton, Micah (2018-10-01). "Google announces Project Stream, will let testers play Assassin's Creed Odyssey for free". The Verge. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- Bankhurst, Adam (October 8, 2018). "Microsoft Announces Global Game Streaming Service, Project xCloud, Beta Next Year". IGN. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
- Hollister, Sean (June 6, 2019). "Google's Stadia game service is officially coming November: Everything you need to know". The Verge. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
- Hollister, Sean (October 15, 2019). "Google's Stadia cloud gaming service will launch on November 19th". The Verge. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
- Kim, Matt (May 16, 2019). "Sony and Microsoft Set Aside Differences to Tackle Next-Gen Gaming's New Frontier: Cloud Streaming". USGamer. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Yadav, Himanshu; Annappa, B (November 2017). "Adaptive GPU resource scheduling on virtualized servers in cloud gaming". 2017 Conference on Information and Communication Technology (CICT). IEEE: 1–6. doi:10.1109/infocomtech.2017.8340641. ISBN 9781538618660.
- Lee, Kyungmin; Chu, David; Cuervo, Eduardo; Kopf, Johannes; Degtyarev, Yury; Grizan, Sergey; Wolman, Alec; Flinn, Jason (2015). "Outatime: Using Speculation to Enable Low-Latency Continuous Interaction for Mobile Cloud Gaming". Proceedings of the 13th Annual International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services - MobiSys '15. Florence, Italy: ACM Press: 151–165. doi:10.1145/2742647.2742656. ISBN 978-1-4503-3494-5.
- "Google Stadia Could Reach 'Negative Latency'—We'll See!". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2019-11-06.