With the emergence and evolution of the internet, a similar evolution has taken place in gaming.
People who played video games in the 1990s and early 2000s recall the days of needing physical copies of games to play them.Now it is possible to buy a game online and download it onto a computer, phone or gaming console.
And it appears the future of gaming could be further digitized, through games streaming.But how would it work? And is it a viable future?
Understanding Game Streaming
The concept of streaming video games already exists, but from a spectator perspective. Gamers will often record their gameplay footage, which they can stream live or post as a video later.
But the idea of playing a game as it is streaming from another source is beginning to gain traction. Instead of the game being tied to a physical device, it is streamed through a server.
Breaking Down Barriers
The idea is to break down barriers to high quality and immersive gaming. Instead of requiring powerful hardware to run the best games, people could play them on smartphones, portable gaming devices and at home through streaming.
When there is an easier entry into the market, companies are able to get more sales. If any smartphone, tablet or computer were able to play the most powerful games, the reach of those games would be a lot wider.
Many gaming enthusiasts are concerned about a future where game streaming becomes the norm. Even though downloading games is very popular, around half of gamers still buy physical discs.
With a physical copy of a game, ownership is established. All that is required is inserting the disc into a computer or console. If games are streamed, there is no established ownership.
People would have accounts with companies, such as Microsoft and Sony. They would buy a license to stream a game indefinitely or for a specific period. But the company could revoke that license at any time, as is their right.
It means that gamers could lose access to games they paid money to play at any moment, a future that frightens many in the industry.
When it comes to streaming games, issues with both connection speed and latency can create serious problems.
These issues make games streaming a moot point for millions of people, even in first world countries. In fact, only a small minority in countries like the United States or Canada would have a good enough connection to comfortably stream games, especially those that require quick reaction time such as first person shooters.
Those who believe games streaming is the future see 5G as the answer. It is the high speed network that is promising to change the way everyone uses the internet. 5G promises much faster data speeds and virtually no latency.
If hundreds of millions of people had access to such a network in the next three to five years, games streaming would be a viable option. But until that happens, it is merely an interesting concept.