What is game streaming, what kind of technologies are out there? These questions I do get a lot, so I thought to write a short article about game streaming technologies.
For the foreseeable future, the way to get the lowest latency and best image quality are going to be a game on a machine be it a console or PC that is physically in the same room as yourself. But if for whatever reason you won’t or can’t get access to a physical gaming machine, cloud computing promises to bring the power of the enterprise data center on to a screen the size of your TV, PC, or even your mobile phone. But with so many companies and services out there claiming to do the same thing, which one delivers the top experience? I will try to answer that question in today’s blog.
GeForce now is not a content service as others on the list. You have to purchase a game from Steam, Uplay, or Blizzard’s Battle.net. Once you have installed the game on your gaming platform, GeForce’s cloud-based processors will allow you to play the game on any device regardless of their specs. But there is a caveat when it comes to game compatibility and that is, if the publisher or the developer has specifically blacklisted the game from running on GeForce Now, it won’t work. And the frustrating thing is that there is no definitive list of what games are available for GeForce Now. But don’t worry some of the available games are; Assassin’s Creed Origins, PUBG, Injustice2, Middle-earth: Shadow of War and Sid Meier’s Civilization VI.
Google Stadia is out of its beta period and is the only game streaming service to do that. It is available to those who have purchased the Premiere edition and the Pro subscription plan. Google Stadia is effectively replacing the traditional game console, it is available to stream devices such as IOS, Android, tablets, laptops, and TV via Chromecast Ultra. It provides its users with several top-notch games like Destiny 2, Mortal Kombat 11, Borderlands 3, and Darksider’s genesis. One of the best things is that updates are handled on the server-side so that you won’t have to wait before playing a game. As of now, not all of the impressive features of Stadia have been integrated. Stadia promises a close collaboration with Youtube and Google Assistant. If you are watching a game live-streamed on Youtube, you can jump straight into it and play the game with your favorite streamer. Cool, isn’t it?
Project X Cloud
Microsoft’s Project X Cloud aims to break the hardware barrier between its games and potential players. This project was unveiled back in 2018 and since then is achieving progress gradually. You can play your choice of the game on your choice of a gaming device, yes you read that right. Microsoft uses 54 Azure Data Centers and has made this transition possible. You can play the game of your choice on any device with an internet connection from Xbox One to PS, PC, tablet, and even mobile phones. You will also have access to your own Xbox Console via a server through XCloud without paying anything at all. But there is a catch, unlike Stadia, X Cloud connects controller via Bluetooth, which theoretically leads to low latency while playing games.
Sony has some of the best games around for quite a while now. But to play those games, you needed to own a PS console and a TV. But with Playstation Now you can play hundreds of video games without owning Sony’s game console, yes, you can play on a PC with a good internet connection. To play on a PC you will need a dual shock 4 controllers with a wireless adapter or USB mini cable. Moreover, you will also need a PS Network account and an internet speed of at least 5Mbps download speed. Playstation Now is subscription-based and has the biggest library of games that is over 800 games. Playstation Now is also getting an upgrade pretty soon. Thanks to the parent company, Sony and Microsoft are joining hands to provide Microsoft’s Azure Cloud technology that will—it is the same technology used by Project Cloud X—integrate the streaming and AI features of Playstation Now. As we look towards the future, Sony is planning to integrate other devices such as mobile phones. So, stay tuned but also check the new PS5.
Shadow is a company with an ambitious goal. They are gonna kill off the traditional gaming PC and do it without gamers even caring or noticing. How are they going to do it? That is a terrific question, let me tell you how. Shadow Ghost is a super low powered Linux computer that leverages the power of the cloud to enable it to perform like a high-performance gaming rig. It can run almost every game on high settings despite being a 7 watt fanless on the based system. It uses a remote server to handle workloads. Shadow has built its own co-located data centers. In these centers they have custom-built boxes, each box contains 16 CPU cores, 48 gigs of system memory, and 4 performance grade GPUs, typically GTX 1080s or Quadro p5000s. Each Shadow gets its dedicated GPU and other features. Just like renting a gaming PC.
Latency is a problem that is faced whenever you are streaming a game through cloud computing. But to answer this effectively, Shadow has produced their own device. When attached, the device issues a command to their software that inverts the color of the screen. Then it uses a sensor on the back of the device to measure the delay. To cut it short, it only adds five milliseconds of total latency if the server’s running on the same local network. And that’s for all of the image capture and coding, transferring and decoding. Shadow believes that it’s their tuning of both hardware and the software at every link of the chain that gives them this key advantage. According to them, everything is tuned to optimize latency.
There’s a lot more to the game streaming technologies. The future looks surprisingly awesome where everyone would be able to play games without owning expensive gaming PCs and consoles. A fast internet connection with good wifi routers will serve the purpose. Until then. See you.