The Potential of Cloud Gaming

The official description of cloud power from the Microsoft Store.

"Your games keep playing, even when you’re not"

Just because you’re not playing doesn’t mean your games have to stop. With Living Games technology and the power of the cloud, game worlds can be persistent. So the things you do in a game will stay that way. Plus your games stay in sync with the real world, which means the latest stats can be automatically fed into your sports games. Advanced AI even allows your friends to play against your shadow when you’re not available. With Xbox One, the game never stops.

I'm really not sure why gamers are having such a hard time wrapping their heads around the potential of cloud gaming.

We already have some excellent examples of what the principle of cloud-server based gaming allows:

These are called MMORPG's - World of Warcraft being one of the most popular games of all time and for the Ex-WoW players like myself newer games like Guild Wars 2. MMORPG's have persistent worlds that are constantly running in the cloud.

So how can this technology be translated into improving the single player experience without running into a wall of latency?

- An aging and evolving world that continues down a path you set even when you are not playing.

Imagine an open-world RPG where the world is constantly shifting based on your decisions. Maybe we can stop being so disappointed in these games when our choices don't have the far reaching consequences we hoped for?

- Cloud rendered and processed AI of staggering volumes that all can operate far out of the scope of the console.

Microsoft showed a tech demo of a rendered solar system where the rendering capability for in-game objects of the console was dwarfed when the AI rendering was off-loaded to the cloud. This AI can be rendered outside of the latency dependent zone that must be sensitive to real-time feedback.

Imagine the staggering amount of action developers can add to a game world by programming things to happen far out of the scope of what you can see rendered on your TV? I personally dislike war games but imagine massive scale warfare ala Planetside 2 but single player where all that player action is really AI action powered by the cloud.

- Graphical prowess that supplements the consoles ability by handling latency insensitive tasks

Remember in the 7th generation of console when people compared Xbox 360 games to PS3 games by complaining about things likegGraphic Pop-in, restricted view distances, extra zoning requirements, and loading times? These things can be in the past. Infinite view distances, zero graphic pop-in, no zoning, zero load times. All because the cloud is pre-rendering content and delivering it to the console as the player moves through the world. In other words, As soon as content moves close enough to your real-time feedback zone, it has already been rendered by the cloud.

The principle of gaikai before sony bought it was to allow people with low powered machines to run incredibly beautiful games because a cloud device was rendering the content and just playing it on your screen. Here we have a hybrid concept that uses the power of the console but supplements it where possible.

There is such a staggering amount of potential here. Yes, this will mean that some games that utilize this technology will require the internet to work. However, that doesn't mean the developers can't allow the console to render tasks if the cloud isn't available. Microsoft's tech demo certainly demonstrated that the cloud can shift in and out of use with ease. Its great to see developers embracing new technological capabilities that build on top of the technological platform already established with popular MMO's.

It really feels like people are being intentionally stupid by saying this "cloud" technology is a gimmick. Really? Have you been in a cave these last ten years while cloud powered MMO's stormed the gaming scene? MMO's use this technology but are NOT sensitive to latency issues at all, requiring server rendered content even in the real-time feedback zone. With cloud powered gaming you can take all the positives of an MMO and none of the negatives.