In years gone by, people would build large collections of vinyl, CDs, DVDs, and other media, giving them access to the music and movies that they owned. Today, services like Spotify and Netflix have completely changed the way we think about content like this. have completely changed the way we think about content like this.
With these platforms, there’s no need to worry about bulky storage for our ever-growing collections and you get access to everything, rather than just the content you purchased.
This model has been copied to just about every type of media you can imagine, including movies, television, music, newspapers, magazines, and books. But it has proven harder to achieve the same in gaming, mainly due to technical reasons, though some have argued that the industry has been “ignoring the Netflix model
There have been some successful attempts to integrate streaming into games. [Online casinos](https://betway.com/en/casino) like Betway have been using video streams in their live dealer games for several years now. These work by broadcasting a high-quality feed of a human dealer who is in control of a physical shoe of cards or a roulette wheel. Players can place wagers on these games through their smartphone or computer and engage with the dealer by using the live chat feature. The concept has proven to be hugely popular and is why many companies are hoping to bring streaming to other types of games, though it hasn’t quite taken off yet.
Gaming is Stuck in the 1980s
Much has changed in the world of gaming over the years. From the primitive 8-bit era that gave us hits like Rad Racer, RBI Baseball, and early Mario titles to the huge multiplayer shooting games that can be played from a smartphone today, just about everything about the medium has evolved.
Even the way games are purchased has changed. For decades, they were delivered on a physical medium like a cassette, a floppy, or a disc, but in more recent years digital downloads have become the go-to option. There has also been a gradual transition from the model of up-front payments to the free-to-play format that generates revenue through microtransactions.
But even as all of these changes have taken place, the fundamental way that games work has not been altered. Whether it’s installed to an MS-DOS computer from a 1.44 MB floppy or downloaded to an Android tablet from the Google Play Store, games have been run locally on whichever device you’ve been playing.
But if companies like Google, Microsoft, and NVIDIA get their way, that could all be about the change. They’ve been developing streaming services for video games, but they’ve yet to achieve widespread adoption, partly because they’ve still had many bugs that have needed ironing out. But could 2022 finally be the year of game streaming?
Early Streaming Services
Google launched its Stadia service in November 2019, offering 22 games to users in 14 different countries, including the US, UK, Canada, and some European nations. Its hardware start-up kit cost $130, and the service was priced at $10 a month.
However, while some touted it as the “Netflix of gaming”, that fee only included one title. Users would still have to buy any other games that they wanted to play.
Although it had been in beta for over four years before that, NVIDIA launched its GeForce NOW streaming service in early 2020. Like Stadia, it only allows users to play gamesthat they already own, rather than being a lending library of titles.
The Next Generation
Google is now reportedly “deprioritizing” its Stadia service with rumors suggesting that it is planning to rebrand the service as “Stream” to allow game developers to run their own games as a white-label service.
With that in mind, 2022 could actually be a year of decline for Stadia users since the titles available for it are likely to remain static and any new service will take time to launch.
However, Microsoft may be the closest to achieving the holy grail of video game streaming. Its Xbox Cloud Gaming service is much closer to the Netflix model as users that subscribe to its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate package can enjoy the titles in its library through its cloud platform.
After launching in September 2020, the service has over 150 games and is available in 26 different countries. It’s now also available on Mac and iOS devices, and Microsoft is reportedly working on making the service available on smart TVs in the near future.
So, while Google looks set to slowly wind up its consumer-facing gaming service, Microsoft could make 2022 the year of streaming.