How Cloud Is Disrupting Gaming As We Know It

Playing your favourite games might feel very different in the next 5 to 10 years. And in a good way.

With massive growth in the cloud and AR/VR spaces, the future of gaming looks to be an exciting one. Where your experience might be as simple as streaming your favourite games in high quality. Wherever you are in the world. 

Industry giants are even grabbing up as many gaming companies they can. Microsoft recently made the largest video game acquisition to date by purchasing Activision Blizzard for £54.12 billion. And Tencent is on a shopping spree, having acquired 31 game studios in 2020. Which might be indicative of an oncoming disruption to gaming as a whole.

So what will the next 5-10 years look like in gaming? Will cloud become a real game-changer? Let’s take a look!

The Poll That Led To This

The idea to explore this looming (and much anticipated) disruption to gaming came from a LinkedIn post by our CTO, Prinavan Pillay.

In it, he talks about the move by big tech towards buying out major gaming franchises along with the increased investment in machine learning (ML), cloud and other AI-driven applications. He also followed it up with a poll to gauge thoughts on the most popular gaming platform/community in the next 5-10 years.

“As technologists, and personally as a gaming enthusiast, we can’t ignore the explosion that the gaming industry has seen recently, with some monumental acquisitions by big tech over the last year. This means huge investment into computer vision, brain computer interfaces (BCI) and other ML and cloud centric tech for gaming applications. Question, what do you think the future of gaming looks like in the short to medium term?”.

Link to the post.

With the global gaming market already reaching £141.9 billion in 2021 and set to reach £214.4 billion in 2025, it might be safe to say that there is a growing movement towards a new normal.

Can The Cloud Really Handle Gaming?

Stores are still piling up consoles on their shelves and the playstation still remains the go-to for FIFA. So will AI and the cloud be capable of making a shift in the coming years?

“Cloud based gaming might be a challenge. Think of server processing… Do you think AI could help servers to automate certain processes on the server to cater for such?” said one of the commenters.

While a valid concern, it’s clear that cloud-based gaming might be a possibility if the issues surrounding streaming could be mitigated. 

“The compute processing wouldn’t be as large as you’d think. The player concurrency and session management is already handled by most multiplayer servers. Additionally, actual cloud game rendering would require processing the size of a typical gaming console for each player, which is quite nominal for a large data centre. This leaves the last mile being the video stream to your browser/device. If cloud data centres or edge caching can expand reach to most regions, I can definitely see this growing in the casual gaming community,” says Pillay.

It’s also important to remember that not all games are equal. If the game isn’t very CPU or GPU dependent, then it has the potential to work comfortably on the cloud.

Iordan Tchaparov, one of our data engineers commented:

“Compute can also be shared depending on what people are playing. I don’t expect you would need full CPU and GPU usage for some indie games – in which case you can allocate the remaining resources to someone else. Maybe enhancing their gaming session further than what a single dedicated machine could achieve. I do think there is still a challenge with regards to getting the right internet bandwidth for some countries, but I can definitely see it happening as the internet becomes cheaper and more infrastructure is built.”

The Cash Is In The Cloud

The cloud is becoming increasingly popular for its flexibility and ease of use. 

Especially with the ongoing investments in cloud-based technologies. Which is allowing companies to upgrade their IT infrastructure and give them more control without physical server limitations. Or exorbitant costs.

According to Statista, the global cloud gaming market will reach £5.18 billion in revenue in 2024. 

And that’s besides the billions going towards accelerating the capabilities of these hyperscale havens. Gartner predicts the public Cloud market to reach over £497.5 billion by the year 2023. More enterprises and SMBs are investing in cloud technology, understanding the positive effect it will have across industries.

In fact, according to Flexera’s 2022 State of the Cloud Report, 66% of executives said cloud usage is “higher than initially planned this year,” and among small to medium businesses, there’s an increase of around 38% since 2021.

With the speedy growth and adoption of the cloud, there’s no denying the impact that it will have on gaming.

There’s No Stopping It

Even if consoles aren’t to disappear anytime soon, cloud-based gaming is certainly going to make its mark on the world. 

In support of cloud, Tchaparov brings up the point of as-as-service offerings making its way into gaming. 

“Cloud gaming without a doubt. Especially as Microsoft continues to push Gamepass and Games-as-a-Service (GaaS) as a whole. ‘If it has a screen, it can be used to play games’ is the pitch I can see in the upcoming years. Couple that without the hassle of actually buying a console or high end PC in exchange for a monthly fee”.

Besides the already growing fanbase, representatives of iconic gaming brands such as Blizzard, SEGA and Rovio all have an interesting point of view on the matter.

According to interviews conducted by IGN Africa, names like Denby Grace (Mafia III), Tim Heaton (Total War), and Kellee Santiago (Pokemon GO) all predict that cloud gaming will be all over the place in the next 10 years.

It certainly looks like cloud is set to be a game-changer in the coming years.

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