Two decades ago, if you wanted to listen to a song you would have to visit a music store and buy a copy of a song, or an album on a CD. If you wanted to watch a movie, you had to visit a cinema, or buy or rent a copy on VHS or DVD. Many of you might also remember, with some joy, recording your favourites from the TV or radio.
Fast forward to today and we have streaming services for both music and video. For a single monthly fee we have access to millions of songs, or thousands of movies and TV shows, in an instant, almost anywhere in the world.
Streaming has revolutionised the way we consume media. According to some reports, Netflix alone accounts for around 15% of the world’s internet traffic.
Yet despite this dominance streaming seems to have only just got started. Companies are always looking for more industries to disrupt with streaming technologies.
Gaming – The Future of Streaming
Technology has been transforming the world of streaming for years, especially in sports, with huge investments in the last decade..Many are touting gaming to be the next area that gets disrupted by streaming. Many people still buy games for their consoles in physical formats, although they often buy them from online retailers like Amazon, instead of visiting a high street store.
There are several companies developing streaming services for video games, including major names like Google and Valve. However, true streaming of video games is taking a long time to perfect because of the immense bandwidth and low latency requirements.
Streaming will help to reduce piracy of video games, and could mean that gamers don’t need a console to enjoy their favourite titles. Instead, it could be possible to play from any device.
For now, most video game “streaming services” store a lot of content locally, such as Sony’s PlayStation Now service, which even allows offline play because the games can be downloaded to the console.
Game Streaming is Not Completely New
The act of streaming games has been around longer than many realise. The iGaming industry has been operating live casinos for some time now. They have an advantage over some of the other players in video game streaming as they don’t need to render gigabytes of graphics data on the fly and can instead rely on a video feed, but live casinos still offer a much more interactive experience than their traditional alternatives. Some companies have even made their live casino games available on the go, meaning players can still take part on their iOS or Android phone or tablet.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise though. The casino industry has been pioneering in its use of technology for decades. As well as iGaming companies using technology to let gamblers place wagers from afar, the traditional brick and mortar casinos have been using technology much longer.
In particular, they have been making use of a type of streaming technology for a while. Instead of just standard CCTV systems, most modern casino platforms have a network of cameras that create a live feed of interwoven images that can be moved and zoomed, giving security teams a full view of everything that goes on in real time. This requires huge amounts of data bandwidth, on par and even in excess of video streaming services. They combine this with technologies like facial recognition and NORA to make sure they know everyone in their casino, and can see what they’re up to.
How Far Away is Full Video Game Streaming?
The main issue with video game streaming is that it requires two-way communication. When you watch a film on Netflix, all you’re doing is downloading the film in sequence, and watching the bit that you have most recently downloaded.
Streaming video games requires two-way communication. The service needs to instantly receive the commands you sent through the button presses on the controller, and serve updates to your video feed that reflect these changes. This is significantly more complicated and is why it is taking longer for companies to develop their services.
While tech companies like Google and Microsoft can build vast data centres around the world, so your data doesn’t have to travel too far, your own internet connection can still hold you back. In the UK, the average broadband speed is around 18 Mbps, which is around 10 Mbps less than Japan, and likely not fast enough to provide seamless video game streaming. Gamers may also need to upgrade their router.
In all likelihood, video game streaming is going to happen sooner or later, but its developers still need to overcome a lot of technical hurdles before they can release it to the general public.