Even before the COVID-19 pandemic touched off newfound interest in home-based online gaming, cloud gaming trends were making headlines.
In many ways, this gaming genre is a natural extension of where network infrastructures have been heading for years. Data stored in cloud repositories can be accessed from anywhere, often with significantly less latency, even in the middle of resource-heavy gaming sessions.
See below to learn about trends in cloud gaming that exemplify how the gaming industry is changing to meet modern consumer needs and preferences.
Cloud gaming today
Cloud gaming is usually used to refer to on-demand gaming or gaming as a service (GaaS), where gamers access games via remote servers that stream content to personal devices. Cloud gaming is different from downloadable games that are installed on machines or devices, as users stream games remotely from a public or private cloud.
The cloud gaming market is on pace to become a billion-dollar market by the end of 2022, up from $633 million in 2020, according to Newzoo, a prominent game market insight and analytics firm. The company anticipates the cloud gaming market to surprise $5 billion in revenue in 2023. By the end of 2021, the company predicts, there will be almost 24 million paying cloud gaming users.
5 cloud gaming trends
1. Subscription-based cloud gaming could become as popular as streaming video services
Will cloud gaming truly usher in a Netflix-esque approach where gamers consume games the same way they consume movies and music? Some signs point to a resounding “yes.”
In particular, the subscription economy (across all segments) has grown five times faster than the retail economy over the past decade or so, according to research conducted by Zuora, a cloud-based subscription management platform provider in its biannual Subscription Economy Index report. Consumers are accustomed to this model and clearly see value in it.
The three leading cloud gaming providers, Microsoft, Sony and Apple, each boast millions of subscribers.
2. Console sales and development may tank thanks to the cloud gaming trend
It’s not all good news for console developers like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. Cloud gaming could spell the end of the console as we know it.
Ubisoft CEO and founder Yves Guillemot surmises, as early as 2018, in a Variety interview that gaming consoles may become obsolete in a single generation because of the growth of cloud gaming. “I think we will see another generation, but there is a good chance that step by step we will see less and less hardware,” Guillemot says. “With time, I think streaming will become more accessible to many players and make it not necessary to have big hardware at home.”
3. Online casinos will become more popular
The virtual casino experience is a prime example of how cloud gaming trends are likely to impact a wide swath of consumers, well beyond the typical gamer demographic. Cloud-based casinos do face significant challenges in some markets, including the U.S., where it is mostly illegal to conduct betting operations online. Game creators often skirt these issues by issuing payouts in non-USD currencies like crypto or via gift cards that can be used like cash.
Cloud-based casino gambling is an interesting cloud gaming trend in that the “gameplay” isn’t based on skill as much as it is on chance, but it’s also unique in terms of how social interactions occur. Many virtual casino environments include an explicit focus on a social element, encouraging competitors to chat and make connections. In a way, online casinos are part social media/part online gambling.
The global online gambling market is expected to grow from $64.13 billion in 2020 to $72.02 billion by the end of 2021 and $112.09 billion in 2025, according to the “Online Gambling Global Market Report 2021: COVID-19 Growth and Change to 2030” by Research and Markets.
4. Cloud gaming will attract more spectators from the esports world
Esports is an enormous industry. Several high-profile esports gamers net millions of dollars in endorsement deals every year. The popularity of the online Twitch platform, which enables gamers to livestream gameplay, is one key reason this market is experiencing so much success.
As Deloitte Insights says, “Esports is blurring the lines between video games and TV, spurring game companies to think like broadcasters.” We can expect to see esports revenue streams that resemble TV revenue in the form of advertising and sponsorship.
5. Adaptive AI will allow for adaptive cloud gaming that matches evolving skill levels
Adaptive artificial intelligence (AI) takes advantage of cloud computing to deliver more sophisticated gaming graphics and drives processing power advancements, but it may also change the way games respond to player inputs at a fundamental level. Hyper-personalized gaming experiences could allow players of mixed ability levels to play together and help players become more skillful by adjusting to evolving skill levels.
AI-powered opponents, too, could become more challenging for players through adaptive learning technology that takes the players’ current skill level and play preferences into account, according to Mouser Electronics.
It’s no big surprise that cloud gaming has become so commonplace. The cloud is more than a pure computing term in 2021. Whenever and wherever data needs to be accessed by people separated by miles but linked together by interest, the cloud provides a way. Cloud gaming trends may evolve over the coming years, but there’s no doubt the cloud gaming market is here to stay.