CES 2019 has brought with it the same raft of new gaming products; new mice, keyboards, screens, processors and VR headsets. In this respect, it is more of the same; a new iteration of peripherals and technology that replaces ones released a couple of years ago.
But amongst all of these peripherals and processors are some early signs of the future in the form of cloud gaming. Cloud gaming is effectively what it sounds like; the ability to stream games via the internet.
In some way, cloud gaming is already here. All three console retailers offer the ability to purchase and download games direct to device. But the technology could become an entirely different beast that could cause significant changes to the existing business model.
The biggest sign that this idea may become a reality sooner rather than later was AMD’s announcement that it was working with google on it’s cloud gaming project, proudly telling the gathered crowd that it has been able to stream Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (a game that requires heavy processing power) to a wide range of devices, with all of the processing done remotely.
The implications of this could be huge. While the technology would require high internet speeds (acting as a barrier that slow adoption rates), it would signal an entirely different business model in the gaming market.
At the moment, the big three console brands run an ecosystem strategy. If you buy one of their consoles, then every game you buy for that console will make the brand money, even if it wasn’t a game produced by them. This approach helps ensure a steady stream of revenue that is ‘locked in’ powered through sales of games on that console.
But if cloud gaming became mainstream, there would be no need for this. Games could run on just about any form of modern hardware; from tablets to smart TVs, and instead of paying per game tied into a console, business models could look far more like that of Netflix or Spotify.
It is early days; but CES is often a view into the not too distant future. With this in mind, cloud gaming is certainly an innovation to watch.