Gaming as a Service: When we talk about cloud computing systems, we may be mainly focusing on Platform, Infrastructure, Software, and Network as a Service as the main and common areas that are presented to us, but there is another area to watch as it gets a stronger foothold into the cloud. That newcomer is Gaming as a Service (GaaS). GaaS is not really new, and if you have ever been on Facebook you know there are a lot of games available that are running in the cloud already, but since the start of 2013, we are seeing more and more cloud focus from the traditional game manufactures, pushing their future products and services into the cloud. Will video games be completely powered by cloud computing?

Gaming in the cloud is not new and one just needs to log into Facebook to see some of these games available by companies like Zynga as well as services like Xbox Live that brings the games and the competition to the cloud. More and more of these games can be played on just about any device from the computer to the tablet. With this successful migration to the cloud, why do we still need these game consoles especially for some of the truly high end, hardcore games like Call of Duty as an example?

There has been one major holdup in bringing the gaming industry completely into the cloud. That has been the graphic processing units or lack of graphic processing available. Virtualization and cloud computing hosts have been optimized for computing power, but not for graphics processing, and that final frontier is being addressed.

Nvidia made an announcement earlier in the year that it has a new rack server that is optimized for computer graphics. Each rack-mounted Nvidia Grid contains 240 of the company’s graphics processing units and boasts a total GPU computational power of 200 teraflops, the announcement said. Each node can support 24 concurrent users and the entire server has a performance equivalent to 720 Xbox 360s.

Now, here is one question or thought to ponder:  As technology has advanced to the point where most game consoles are becoming beefier in the design. There does not seen to be any scaling back of the hardware in current game console and really, why should they? Until the game console manufacturers are able to fully take advantage of the cloud services and establish a solid subscription base, I do not see them being in any kind of hurry to cut off the revenue stream that the game consoles are bringing in currently, but I do see the shift in progress. Right now it may work—components can be done via the cloud—but is this, the direction the game console manufactures are going to want to go? Sony and Microsoft both have a new game console that should be released later in the year, but from what I have heard it is nowhere near ready for the hardcore gamers of the world.

Another shortcoming in Gaming-as-a-Service is the network connectivity and speed needed to make the cloud gaming experience something equal to what the dedicated client-side hardware has to offer currently. Latency is another reason that the dedicated client console is going to be around for a while longer, but that is not stopping services like OnLive from really working on their client game streaming for the masses.

I think the game industry has gotten to the point where cloud computing is going to move them to the next level and into tomorrow. I am not quite sure that we are going to really get rid of the client-side game consoles for a while, and maybe not at all, as graphic technology, HD and 3D continue to advance, all while we wait for the public network speeds and bandwidth to increase to keep up with the advancement in the technology.

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Steve Beaver (158 Posts)

Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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2 comments for “Gaming as a Service

  1. April 18, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Facebook? My son runs Steam and Origin – but Game-as-a-Service utilising client hardware for local presentation – but offering a range of services and interactions.

  2. Chris
    June 24, 2013 at 5:51 AM

    So is it really true? Our games will no longer be ours, we just pay to play them? Gaming hardware will become irrelevant? Is this the future of gaming? Well… Whenever this day comes, I will take it as a good day to give up gaming completely!

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