Future of Game Streaming

Game streaming, is a technique where a remote computer performs the hard processing of a game, while a remote terminal simply displays and gives input orders. It is nothing entirely new as it has been used for quite some time already. What is interesting about it is how remote it can be.

Thanks to mobile connections like LTE and 3G, we have experienced a brand new power of communication. We can transfer information way faster and from almost anywhere. The problem is maintaining such connections, as it can be very expensive and limited. However, as time goes by, new technology may allow this technology to become not only cheaper, but more accessible worldwide.

Thanks to VNC technology, we have been able to connect to remote computers and interact directly to them. It could be a version of game streaming if we consider that we can actually be playing a game in a remote computer. The problem is the refresh rate, which is hardly compared with being in a local network such as a Wi-Fi. This not only changes the experience but affects playability, as response time to what we see is relevant.

Here is where fast connections take place. Having faster connections may allow sending a faster refresh rate of what we are seeing in a remote computer. Not only the image will be relevant, but also our input to it. Unlike movies or series, where streaming is only relevant to see it; games are interactive, and having proper response rate to our input can be significant if we ever want to experience it as if we were in a local computer.

But where is this taking us? Technology may have physical limits that we may still to reach, but so does human responses. If we eventually reach a point where connection speed is so fast enough that the human eye cannot recognize if it is a remote computer or not, the whole gaming market may be changed. Rather than installing games on consoles or computers, new games may be similar to Netflix or YouTube. Where you never really install or download what you see (or play) but instead you just see the game and you place inputs. This means that the devices used to connect should be used only for display and input of it. There wouldn’t be much processing on the client side, meaning that tablets, smartphones or gaming PC would be virtually equal on performance.

Game streaming at that rate would also imply that players may no longer care about drivers or hardware updates. The remote servers will have the requirements to see what we require for it. It is not something of the future, there are already game streaming services going on. The problem is the connection required for it, as well as some game libraries to support them. We also have to consider the stability of servers, and the huge volume of constant connections that will take place.

Luckily, the future may bring us not only better connection methods, but also storage and performance devices. Steam Machines do offer methods of game streaming, allowing you to have your own gaming PC and connect it. OnLive already offers an entire service of cloud gaming that we can use. Chrome-books are evidence that cloud computers can exist. There are still limitations to such services and devices, but only with time we will how well they may work.