A Look Behind the Curtain of Cloud Gaming

Cloud gaming continues to grow and become the norm for the gaming industry. Soon, game releases will exclusively be online for download onto consoles or streamed via the cloud, no more discs; much like how we consume music now. The cloud gaming industry is set to grow by 900% by 2023[1], and recent announcements have been demonstrating this predicted growth.

At the end of 2018, veterans Epic Games became the new kids on the block when they announced their store to rival Steam. The allure of better margins has convinced many big brands to make the switch and we are likely to see the store join Steam at the top relatively quickly as regards market share.

Google announced in March that it will be launching its game streaming service, Stadia in November 2019 – driven by the commoditization of GPU servers; fibre-optic networks affecting the speed of home broadband; and even 5G. Stadia will stream games to Google’s Chrome web browser, the Chromecast dongle and the Pixel smartphone[2], making Google’s entry to the gaming world a huge splash. To challenge this new development, Microsoft and Sony announced their unexpected partnership to develop cloud solutions for online gaming[3]; a partnership no one could have seen coming and one that will definitely shake the gaming industry.

These tech giants came out in full force at this year’s E3 conference, displaying their upcoming advancements in cloud gaming. Google’s Stadia demoed the highly anticipated game: Doom Eternal, and Microsoft allowed attendees to trial their xCloud game streaming service. These gaming displays were met with great reviews and confirmed that the gaming industry continues to evolve dynamically.

While the excitement for cloud gaming dominated the minds of E3 press and attendees, the developers (while enjoying the great responses) were most likely thinking about what has to be implemented to be able to meet the expectations of the masses.

Striving for a lag-free experience

The pressure for lag-free online gaming is a huge demand on many developers with the surge of interest in cloud gaming. Developers know that the success of online gaming is based on the high-performance servers they utilize.

A recent case of this was Crytek’s launch of Hunt: Showdown on the Xbox One. The highly successful online PvP game was originally exclusively available on the popular game streaming platform, Steam, but recently moved to the Xbox One.

The change to a bigger platform meant that Crytek needed a hosting provider that could offer high-performance servers in the locations where their game will be played the most – the US and UK. Crytek was also faced with the challenge of finding flexible and scalable infrastructure to be able to allow for customization to quickly respond to unpredictable game usage.

Crytek enlisted Leaseweb, who was able to provide them with 400 extra dedicated servers, and a private cloud network. Since Crytek regularly updates its games, using a private cloud network grants storage for internal resources and key functions such as database hosting and application testing.

Crytek was also able to get the speed, scalability, and flexibility they need to successfully launch Hunt: Showdown on the Xbox One. Faruk Yerli, the CEO of Crytek, even stated that partnership allowed them to “plan and react to how the market receives our games”, and that “for any game launch, or update, it’s vitally important to have a flexible infrastructure that can scale up quickly.”

The Crytek servicers and private cloud network is a prime example of the requirement for strong cloud infrastructures that the gaming industry is going to need to transition to cloud gaming, and how we can expect to see more partnerships (or even acquisitions) between companies that may have not considered working together but can now benefit from each other.

Whilst the future of gaming is definitely heading in the direction of the cloud and gamers can be excited about never having to carry around large game boxes, the real exciting development is how this new demand for lag-free online gaming will evolve the gaming industry and bring about a new era in gaming and cloud.

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/932758/cloud-gaming-market-world/

[2] https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/6/18654632/google-stadia-price-release-date-games-bethesda-ea-doom-ubisoft-e3-2019

[3] https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/20/18632374/microsoft-sony-cloud-gaming-partnership-amazon-google

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