Although development news involving OnLive and Gaikai, two of the pioneer cloud gaming service providers in the market, have not been prominent lately, cloud gaming is still considered by most experts as the future of this industry. This is because it solves the main issues that have plagued PC gaming since its beginnings: Software piracy and the high cost of hardware and upgrades on the user end.
It is clear that, despite what many thought initially, the technology for cloud gaming is already here. In fact, the potential for the future is still far from realized. Perhaps with a few tweaks to their business model, cloud gaming service providers can start making gains in this market. Hardware manufacturers and developers have started to bet on cloud gaming, creating products that anticipate the rise of many new cloud gaming projects for 2013. This is especially true when it comes to graphics card manufacturers, particularly Nvidia that has pushed the envelope in developing graphics cards specifically for cloud gaming servers.
What makes cloud gaming services attractive for graphics card manufacturers?
Only a few years ago, the idea of computing games at a data center and allowing computer users to log in from any location started to gain traction as network technology advanced. When these kinds of ideas were restricted to remote desktops and enterprise, graphics card manufacturers had little reason to become involved. However, when cloud services providers started to adapt their technology to gaming, this spurred more interest on the part of graphics card companies.
One of the main reasons for this is that it has the potential to allow graphics card manufacturers to influence television gaming directly; the union of big screen gaming and high-end PC processing and cloud computing sets a clear path for the future of gaming. While these companies have supported television gaming by manufacturing components for gaming consoles, this more direct approach allows graphics card manufacturers more freedom to innovate.
High-end graphics card used in both domestic and public clouds across multiple platforms
When most people think of this kind of cloud gaming, it involves using high-end graphics cards located in data centers that stream to end users’ homes for use on televisions or terminals. Many graphics card manufacturers are also looking at the idea of creating home-server based graphics cards that allow users to use their own gaming computer system to stream to different screens within a single home.
One of the most important reasons why this market is particularly attractive for graphics card manufacturers is that it solves one of their main problems: cross-platform compatibility. Graphics cards are notorious for having multiple releases and versions designed to deal with the many different idiosyncrasies of specific platforms, often making debugging, installation, and customer support a nightmare. However, by using the cloud gaming model, graphics card companies can now create versions of their hardware ideal for a specific hardware setup and platform which can then be streamed to a variety of platforms (including mobile phones and tablets) without the need for adapting to their hardware to an infinite number of possible hardware and software setups.
Coming up with possible financing models for the future of cloud gaming
It is possible that, in the future, new, more efficient models for organizing the cloud gaming industry could arise. On one level, IaaS providers may operate data centers and be charged with providing the capacity for high-end GPUs without actually providing this kind of hardware. Graphics card manufacturers may go into the business of providing their graphics processing power on a HaaS basis that could be layered on top of that. Finally, companies looking to distribute games using the cloud would use these two services in order to provide their own SaaS packages.
This model may provide companies with a clear business model for financing these kinds of systems. At this point, the main problem that needs to be solved is one of finding financing models – the technology exists already. Of course, there may be companies wanting to find a solution that integrates all of these better in order to retain control of their own services directly.
Graphics cards manufacturers like Nvidia and AMD are putting considerable resources into developing cloud-focused strategies. While, initially, some graphics cards companies balked at the idea of reducing their direct sales to gamers, now they are starting to realize that there is a positive tradeoff by selling their products to data centers. The main reason for this is that it expands the number of gamers and attracts new consumers in proportions that would not have been possible before. PC gaming has always had a high entry barrier. However, with PC gamers now having access to these games from any device, it opens up a huge, untapped market that is very attractive to everyone involved in this industry.
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About the Guest Author:
Nida Rasheed is a freelance writer and owner of an outsourcing company, Nida often finds herself wanting to write about the subjects that are closest to her heart. She lives in Islamabad, Pakistan and can be found on Twitter @nidarasheed.