Cloud gaming introduced a paradigm shift in the way people play games. Once restricted to DVDs and game a console, gaming in the clouds is now freely available with gamer and cloud platform providers jumping into the fray.
Games usually involve heavy 3D graphics calling for heavy bandwidth and a high-speed internet connection, still a hurdle for online cloud gaming service providers and gamers alike. Latency is not an issue since technology has advanced to a level where even graphics-intensive games are streamed as video or as files. Cloud gaming is really taking off since a gamer can:
- Play games from any device, from anywhere, at any time
- Access a huge library of games online
- Play with anyone, even matching his choice of games and gameplay for an enhanced experience
- Maintain online records, scores and logs of his games, stopping on one device and carrying on from another device, all in real-time.
Fuelling the growth of online cloud gaming is the radical development by NVidia. NVidia Grid development uses Kepler architecture GRID boards incorporating innovative multiprocessor and GPU technology. The GPU generates new threads and accesses multiple CPU cores, allowing thousands of concurrent players to seamlessly play even the most 3D intensive graphic games.
The Grid could well be on its way to becoming the cloud platform of choice for gamers and game developers since it streams games over the internet to PCs, Tablets, Smartphones, TVs and Macs, making available a huge library of games. The Grid is a form of gaming supercomputer, doing away with hardware restrictions, delivering gaming as a service, handling all the rendering and processing on the server-side as opposed to the end-user device, which means games can be played on just about any device regardless of its processing and graphics capabilities.
NVidia is actively collaborating with game developers, cloud service providers and gaming companies for widespread deployment of online gaming based on its Grid. With NVidia based grid, gamers can play console-quality games on any device.
CiiNow offers a gaming platform leveraging current hardware with scalability and flexibility in the delivery of content. CiiNow claims its platform offers better stream, better encoding, quality and virtualization, enabling games to be optimized to run on any CPU/GPU combination with low latency. Like the NVidia grid, games can be streamed to PCs, Macs, Laptops, mobiles and tablets as well as TVs. Partnering with operators and service providers, CiiNow claims to offer a huge collection of online games.
Gaikai, part of Sony Entertainment, is yet another prominent player offering next-generation cloud-based online streaming games with a 50 million user base and 200 titles. The Gaikai platform utilizes datacenters with high-end servers around the world to stream games in the form of interactive video to any device connected through the internet. If developers think of accessing the biggest customer base, Gaikai is worth a look, especially now that it partners with Sony Entertainment.
Ubitus is yet another cloud gaming platform provider. Ubitus claims to be special, offering a special game development kit to developers. Its cloud for gaming uses server GPU virtualization, robust streaming and scalable architecture. Based on Nvidai Grid, Ubitus allows game streaming to any device. Other cloud gaming platform companies using the NVidia Grid are Agawi in the US, Cyber Cloud technologies and Cloud Union in China, G-Cluster Global in Japan and Playcast Media Systems in Israel.
Photon Cloud is another player on the scene offering real-time multiplayer gaming with cross-platform support for thousands of gamers. Photon encourages developers to use its SDK and reach millions of players through its platform.
G-cluster offers cloud-based gaming through its patented Gcluster technology that turns IPTV set-top boxes into gaming consoles.
GameTree TV is a smartTV gaming platform offering an extensive collection of online on-demand games playable through set-top boxes and electronic devices.
For the moment it looks that NVidia is far ahead in the field as the best technology for online cloud gaming platforms and its efforts to rope in service providers and game developers are successful, it could become the dominant player in this segment. Since it is roping in gaming companies and offering assistance to developers, it could well be the choice for developers to monetize their efforts.