We live in a digital age. A lot of our entertainment is moving to the “on-demand” platform through computers, smartphones, and game systems. But, is cloud gaming something that is practical for everyone?
I suppose that depends on whether you’re able to get out of it what you want. Just like any other streaming service, it all comes down to your specific wants from a subscription model.
Why I’m Probably Not Going to Jump on the Cloud Gaming Bandwagon
There are a few things rolled into cloud gaming that I don’t see as practical when all is said and done.
Sure, the games may look and play amazingly well. But, there are just too many variables that may dissuade me from signing up.
Do You Really “Own” Titles on Cloud Gaming?
One of the more common arguments I’ve seen against cloud gaming is the actual ownership of a game. When you make a purchase, you own the title. In some cases, you may even have a disk.
But when it comes to streaming a game, it’s only available for as long as the system is active or the licensing is valid.
Just like when Netflix changes movies, everything comes down to licensing rights and system stability. For instance, if Google decides to get rid of Stadia, which Google is famous for removing services that are not profitable, then your games are gone.
However, if you view the subscription model as nothing more than what it is, then it’s no big loss.
Take the example of Netflix. Do you own any of those movies? No, but they’re available any time you want to watch. You can view cloud gaming as a similar instance.
Well, unless you buy a specific title. Then you’re just screwed if the platform goes belly-up.
Not As Many Titles Available
While on-demand gaming is getting more traction as time marches on, it still doesn’t have the library compared to buying games outright. And in many regards, it probably never will.
From a business perspective, it’s more profitable to sell a game for a year or longer before leasing out to a streaming service.
This is why you won’t see movies going straight to DVD or Blu Ray…unless they suck. You make most of your profit during the opening weeks at the theaters. Gaming is the same way.
And this says nothing about certain platforms not having access to your favorite titles, developers, or franchises.
At the Mercy of ISPs
Although we’d love to live in a world where Internet Service Providers are constantly stable, it’s not always the case. And anyone who’s had Comcast for any length of time knows this fact of life well.
In order for cloud gaming to be a reality, everything from your device to the server needs to be operating as intended. This includes your home network router, modem, ISP server, and in-line routers outside of the house.
The Internet is only as fast as its slowest connection. So if there is a fault anywhere between your home and the cloud’s server, your gaming experience is less than ideal.
Now let’s consider net-neutrality laws. What if Comcast decides to throttle connections to GeForce Now because Google gives them money to boost bandwidth for Stadia? As far-fetched as it might sound, it’s a real possibility.
Being Charged Extra from ISPs for Bandwidth
Perhaps one of the biggest issues I face with cloud gaming is the extra bandwidth to enjoy games. According to the numbers, streaming at 4k can tap out 1TB of data in just 65 hours of play.
Now consider being an Xfinity customer, who is only allotted 1.2TB per month. Anything over this cap and I’m charged $10 per 50GB. At any given month, we use up nearly the entire 1.2TB just in streaming Netflix, YouTube, and other games.
Adding in cloud gaming would only vastly increase my Internet bill every month. That’s what happens when you have several teens and young adults (all of whom are gamers) hitting your ISP bandwidth.
Not only would I have to pay for the subscription, but the extra bandwidth would easily increase the overall cost to play. At which point, I might as well just buy the game outright and not worry about streaming it on the cloud.
And what company charges extra when most households nowadays, especially within the current pandemic, use up more than a terabyte just in day-to-day activities? Comcast, that’s who. But that’s a blog for another day.
I really hope we get an unlimited fiber optic in my area soon.
Why I May Check Out Cloud Gaming a Bit Closer
Although there are quite a few negatives surrounding cloud gaming, it’s still something I might be interested in trying. Well, as long as I can save up the bandwidth so Comcast doesn’t bend me over a table.
These are the things that I value most about using on-demand platforms. You may have far different reasons to explore their potential.
For me, it’s all about:
I Love Retro Games
I’ve seen a few systems out there in the wild that will give me access to many retro titles that I loved playing back in the day. Simply put, I love most of the games from the late 80s to early 90s era.
And if I can find an outlet that has even a sliver of what I played in my teens, I’ll dump all kinds of money into it.
Then again, it also depends on how much bandwidth I have available for the month. Between streaming, publishing YouTube videos, and watching Netflix because it’s too dangerous to go on a date, I don’t have a lot to spare.
Still, it might be fun to at least give one of these retro cloud gaming systems a month to see what’s available.
I Love Doing Reviews
One of my favorite types of content to write are reviews. And since no one pays me for my opinion, I am completely honest without worrying about upsetting a sponsor.
Sorry, but if your game sucks, or in this case a streaming service, then I’m going to point it out.
Still, it’s a great way to get content when you’re struggling with writer’s block. Experience a system to get an informed and factual impression, and you have several pieces of content in the works.
For instance, I could use each cloud gaming platform to write separate reviews, and then combine them all into a top list of ones I like most.
It’s self-serving, but it’s also why people read many blog posts on the Internet. It’s impressions like these that often contribute to whether someone uses a service or product.
Is Cloud Gaming Something that Interests You?
There is really nothing inherently wrong with cloud gaming services. Well, as long as they can provide what they claim. The hardest part for me is getting over the bandwidth usage when I’m already forking over $100 per month to Comcast.
So in the grand scheme of things, I might not use things like GeForce Now, Stadia, or Antstream Arcade as heavily as someone else. But, I would definitely like to check them out on a trial basis.
I just hope I can keep my Internet bill below $200 if I do.
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