2020 has been another big year for cloud game streaming services.
Major publishers and tech companies have noticed that there is great potential in offering gamers the ability to play the latest, graphics-intensive titles on any device.
Instead of relying on the processing capabilities of local hardware, games can make use of a fast Internet connection that links to a data centre to load the resources required.
This opens up a lucrative opportunity to capture audiences in the mobile gaming market, a segment which has shown tremendous growth in recent years.
Newzoo’s Global Cloud Gaming Report estimated that cloud gaming generated a total of $158 million in 2019.
According to its analysis, this is set to grow exponentially over the next few years as follows:
- 2020 – $590 million
- 2021 – $1.27 billion
- 2022 – $2.21 billion
- 2023 – $3.2 billion
The graph below shows Newzoo’s Global Cloud Gaming Market Cap Forecasts for various scenarios. Click here to read the full report.
Nvidia GeForce Now
After almost five years in beta, Nvidia launched its GeForce Now streaming service to the public in February 2020.
Players are able to access the service on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, ChromeOS, and Nvidia Shield devices.
While its initial library was slimmed down after numerous developers withdrew support for the service due to various agreement disputes, its overall selection remains vast with over 2,000 games to choose from.
Major current titles include Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Apex: Legends, Death Stranding, Destiny 2, and the Half Life series.
The service is offered in two variants – Free and Founders – the latter of which is priced at $4.99 is (R89) per month.
Although both include the same games, the Founders membership provides priority access to Nvidia’s servers, extended gaming sessions of up to six hours, and support for RTX ray-tracing.
Amazon may not be well known for its specialised expertise in the gaming industry in particular, but it possesses vast resources for cloud gaming in terms of datacentre capabilities.
Amazon Web Services dominates the public cloud market, and the company already offers its own video streaming service in Prime Video, so some might say it was only a matter of time before it entered the foray of cloud gaming.
The company launched its Luna streaming service in September, initially allowing for cloud game streaming on PC, Mac, Fire TV, and Apple devices. It added Android support in the middle of December.
Current titles in its Luna Plus channel library include Control, Resident Evil 7, GRID, and Metro Last Light: Redux.
Amazon has also struck a deal to include Ubisoft+ titles in its own dedicated channel, which launched in November.
For an additional $14.99 was (R223) per month, gamers can stream and play titles like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs.
Games can currently be streamed in 1080p resolution at 60fps, with 4K streaming support set to arrive “soon”.
The rollout has been limited, however, with early access only provided by invitation in the US at $5.99 (R89) per month.
Microsoft also took its Project xCloud streaming service public this year when it was added to its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate memberships in September.
The service was in beta testing from November 2019,
xCloud allows Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to stream more than 200 games – including EA Play titles – to an Android device in 720p resolution.
This includes titles from the Age of Empires, Battlefield, Forza Horizon, Gears, and Halo franchises.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is priced at R149 per month in South Africa and $14.99 (R223) in the US.
South Africa gets left out
Aside from these offerings, gamers also have the option of Google Stadia and PlayStation Now, among a wealth of smaller services from lesser-known companies.
Unfortunately, none of the services from Amazon, Google, Nvidia, Microsoft, or Sony are available in South Africa yet – and it remains to be seen whether any of these companies plan to introduce their products locally.
Given that the overall game streaming experience relies heavily on low latency, it will be necessary to ensure they have adequate local data centre infrastructure before attempting a launch.
While it would be a welcome addition in opening up gaming to a larger market, South Africa is still far behind developed countries when it comes to connectivity.
The prices of data and lack of infrastructure capable of carrying data at adequate speeds would be significant stumbling blocks to widespread adoption of cloud gaming.