The Future of Gaming: An Infrastructure Arms Race at Work
Data centres have become increasingly important, thanks to the gradual shifting of video games companies to the cloud. This might sound like a new feature in the gaming industry but casino sites like you can find here have been hosting the latest games on cloud servers for security purposes for a number of years.
According to gaming companies, metal cages provide the perfect platform for the future of gaming. Stacked-together computers are where they are calculated and distributed to different parts of the world, from London to Virginia, Shanghai to Prague, via remote servers that send them across the globe through gigantic underground tubes. Multi-level security prevents unauthorized access to these servers.
Recently, major tech and gaming companies have included a cloud gaming service in their list of services, from PlayStation Now, a product of Sony to xCloud, powered by Microsoft. Amazon and Facebook are reportedly trying to test the water too. For between $10 and $35, gamers can have access to video games they can stream to their console, phone, tablet, television, or tablet.
In the words of Kareem Choudhry, over 25% of the world’s population are gamers. The vice president of cloud gaming at Microsoft believes that gaming can have as much cultural impact on people as television, music, and movies.
Cloud gaming is synonymous to software as a service. It is also a two-pronged service. On the one hand, it provides users with a library of games for gamers while it also provides a streaming platform for users to stream the games on their devices, on the other hand.
While a user’s internet situation may determine the performance of a service partially, much of the success will be determined by the ability of data to take the shortest route from your hardware to the provider’s data centre.
While highlighting the importance of data centres, David Linthichum explained that data centres are only superseded by bandwidth. The chief cloud strategy officer at Deloitte buttressed his point by saying that the company with the largest point of data centre presence and offers the fastest infrastructure will be the most successful in the industry.
Using the God of War game as an example, the chief officer explained that someone who is playing the game in Egypt may have delayed response from a cloud gaming service located in Qatar. This may trigger an emotional disconnect from the game. The senior vice president of product and technology INAP, a data centre colocation explained that 30 milliseconds may make a difference between a top-notch service and a poor service. She believes that any company without a personal cloud will pay for it.
However, building a data centre that can support cloud gaming isn’t cheap. It is a multimillion-dollar project. Such data centres consume a huge amount of power and require connectivity via fiber-optic. They are usually huge. For instance, Microsoft data centre is about 550,000 square feet. Their huge size is aside from the high cost of security, hardware, and maintenance. This makes it a risky project for technology that is not quite in the mainstream.
Shedding light on the huge cost of building and maintaining a data centre, Equinix’s vice president of business development, Jim Poole, said that such a project is quite expensive. It is a capital-intensive project made ahead of demands for it, according to the vice president.
Smaller companies that are dreaming of cloud gaming can’t compete favourably with their bigger and richer competitors. Their investments in such infrastructure over the years have put them at an advantage over the smaller companies. No wonder that companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google with their own network of data centres always have an edge over others.
While owning a personal cloud may be beneficial for a company, there is more to it. The majority of cloud gaming companies, those owning their data centres inclusive, still engage in colocation or space renting. Colocation providers, mobile service providers, and internet service providers have a relationship known as peering exchange. This simply means network traffic hubs that distribute data to their different destinations.
A typical example is Nvidia. The company owns 15 data centres in Europe, North America, and Asia. The company claims that it will take it just 20 milliseconds to reach 80% of its global broadband homes, thanks partially to its relationship with colocation providers with locations across the globe.
Colocation doesn’t come cheap. Apart from space, there are computational goods to pay for. It is pretty clear that a cloud gaming provider must be involved in game-powering services or cloud-making services, the odds are against them in terms of physical infrastructure.
It is safe to predict that cloud gaming infrastructure may soon become a commodity in the next decade. At the moment, Sony is yet to make its cloud gaming resources available for the general public, unlike some other tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Nvidia.
Nintendo isn’t following the trend. The company is yet to commit to cloud gaming despite its console and first-party games selling over 55 million units. This may be a smart move because the company has achieved greatness in fusing removable controllers and motions controls with gameplay mechanics.
Nintendo is banking on the possibility that cloud gaming’s future is uncertain at the moment. Thus, it currently focuses on its strength. While granting an interview, Shuntaro Furukuawa, Nintendo president, gave a plausible reason for the company’s stance on cloud gaming. He expressed his optimism that cloud gaming may become a commodity within the next 10 years. Hence, the company, and anyone else, has no idea of what will be the future of cloud gaming at the moment.
However, Furukawa acknowledged that taking a stance against cloud gaming may be risky, although he’s of the opinion that dedicated gaming hardware has come to stay. According to him, focusing on games that can be played on dedicated hardware only is risky because the moment your audience has a better alternative, you are out of business.
Cloud gaming’s future may be shrouded in uncertainty. Nevertheless, building infrastructure for it ahead of time may be worthwhile for gaming companies. Investing in cloud gaming may be worth the gamble.