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Game Streaming is an absolute waste.

I'm glad to see that quite a lot of people are rightfully skeptical or downright opposed to it. But that didn't stop the major AAA game publishers announcing their own game streaming platforms at E3 this weekend, did it?

I fail to see any unique benefit that can't be solved with traditional hardware (either console or PC)

- Portability? The Nintendo Switch proved that dedicated consoles now have enough power to run great games both at home and on the go.

- Storage? You can get sizable microSD cards for pretty cheap nowadays. So much so that the Switch went back to use flash-based cartridges!

- Library size/price? The problem is even though you're paying a low price for hundreds of games, you don't own them. If any of these companies shut down the platform, all that money you spent is wasted. Plus, this can be solved with backwards compatibility and one-time digital downloads.

- Performance on commodity hardware? This is about the only thing these streaming services have going for it. But unfortunately this only works when you have an Internet connection, so if you have crap Internet or drop off the network, you're screwed. And has it ever occurred to people that maybe playing Doom on your phone is a terrible UX experience and shouldn't be done because it wasn't designed for it?

I just don't get it. Hopefully this whole fad passes soon.

Comments
  • 2
    I can play city skylines on the highest settings on my 4k oled tv without owning a computer. So I'm pretty happy with my Nvidia Shield TV with free geforce now game streaming.
    I don't game much so for me it's perfect.
  • 2
    @heyheni You can get the same results by buying a PS4 Pro with a copy of the game. And you lose the problems associated with ownership, potential latency and network bandwidth use.

    Not saying your setup is inherently wrong. If it works for you, great! But I still fail to see what game streaming offers that can't be solved with either current or future enhancments to dedicated hardware.
  • 2
    I would consider switch to game streaming service if it would provide something like netflix for games.
  • 6
    How can we as humanity truely know that it won't work unless we invest a lot of time and money to make it available to the masses.

    Should it then be a failure, chances are very good that some lessons were learnt that can be applied to other future tech.

    @obsecurity it is either stuff like this, or a world war. Technology has to move forward.
  • 6
    The trend is always toward convenience, especially when it's otherwise a detriment to the consumer.

    I hate humanity.
  • 1
    @LlamaMan I have no problem with technology moving forward. But game streaming, as it is right now, isn't a move forward. There are too many tradeoffs to make it better than alternatives and, depending how you feel about that tradeoffs, can even be considered a step backward.

    Maybe it might one day. But I think for it to get there, it relies on other technological advances (worldwide constant Internet access, elimination of bandwidth caps, etc.) to be in place first before it can be a viable alternative. Until then, I think we can move forward with other technologies related to gaming, like VR or hybrid systems.
  • 1
    @obsecurity game streaming works great if the provider has local servers (i have <1ms latency towards local cloud providers). The big problem i see with game streaming today is that the markets that have the required infrastructure for it are also wealthy enough for people to own their own gaming hardware and buy their games. (And since you can download a game from steam in a few minutes it doesn't make much sense for to pay monthly for a streaming service)
  • 0
    A PlayStation 4 Pro is like $400.
    Nvidia Shield tv is $220 and game streaming is included.
    And Games are licenced on steam just like you do on a pc.
  • 2
    @heyheni you are correct, as of now they have replaced their old GeForce store with a "bring your own content" style service. I contend that this does provide benefits, but this puts it in a category that falls outside my criticisms (at least for this post).

    NVidia essentially offers infrastructure as a service as opposed to access to the games themselves, which as you've noted, does result it less cost. The kinds of stuff I'm miffed about are Google's Stadia, Microsoft's Game Pass, Bethesda's Origins, etc, where they not only have control over the infrastructure but the games themselves. If they ever pull the plug on their services, and there's exclusive content on it, you can never play those games again.
  • 2
    Game streaming is the correct approach because there is no need to buy and maintain expensive gaming equipment that is dated in three years. While a PS4 costs 400€ and streaming is 10€/months the difference after three years is the price of a gaming controller. And after three years of game streaming there is no electronic waste left.

    And the war for the ownership of a game was lost a decade ago anyways.
  • 3
    @lastNick in terms of waste, those companies that provide the service will have to update their equipment in order to not be "dated". So you haven't eliminated the problem, you've only shifted responsibility. And I trust individual responsibility to recycle e-waste much more than a corporation given past experiences.

    The price comparison you've given only works if you assume everyone just completely chucks their game consoles after 3 years. Yet I have plenty of old consoles that still work perfectly fine because I own the hardware and physical copies of the games, and as long as I take care of them, they can last for the rest of my life.
  • 0
    Advantages:

    * You can always play the latest games at the highest quality. No need to update hardware. Ever.
    * Storage (SSDs are expensive, and AAA games today feel the need to take up at least 40GB of space).
    * Play from anywhere. Go to your friend, log in, and start playing. No downloads, no local state, no hassle.
    * Play on anything. Plug in a controller and play Cyberpunk 2077 on your phone/tablet, wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection.
    * 2 or more people live together. Do they all buy separate gaming PCs/consoles? That seems like a waste. If not, what if they want to play at the same time?
    * Less people with top-end GPUs means less crypto mining competition.

    Disadvantages:
    (1) You don't own your games.
    (2) Lag, latency, instability etc.

    Of course, you can have all of the advantages (and many more), without disadvantage (1). All you have to do is build the system on Plan 9. But for some reason people don't like it :(.
  • 1
    @vlads There's no guarantee you can play the latest games. If the game streaming platforms control access to the game itself, they could selectively remove anything they want for any reason. Again, ownership is important here.

    The quality of the game itself and the benefits of being able to play anywhere rely on a solid internet connection at ALL times. If you're playing in a car and you go underground enough to sever the connection, you get booted. And the broadband access to internet varies drastically per region per country.

    What happens when your friends don't have as solid of an internet connection as you do? Or no service at all? Why should a game that needs no online to be played rely on the Internet? What happens when you run out of bandwidth on your mobile/home internet plan, or it gets throttled?

    The answer: you're screwed.
  • 0
    @obsecurity
    > Run out of bandwidth on a home plan.
    What? I have never heard of this. I might be spoiled by Romanian internet though.

    Well, in any case, playing The Whitcher 3 on your phone in the car and getting disconnected from time to time is miles better than not being able to play it in your car at all.

    The Switch isn't a solution either. I want a 2080 Ti or two rendering my game, not a $200 graphics chip. I want Ray Tracing and hair physics, and Anti-Aliasing and supersampling in my car gaming experience.

    Obviously, if your internet connection is shit, this won't work for you. But, if you do have internet, this is much better (just like Netflix is much better than DVDs).

    What not to do: complain that the industry is slowly but surely moving towards the kick-ass distributed system we should have built in the 90s.
    What to do:
    * Complain that the internet infrastructure in your country is shit.
    * Complain that the APIs we're building on are awful (compared to Plan 9).
  • 1
    @vlads what distributed system are you envisioning?
  • 0
    @obsecurity The one Rob Pike is talking about. One where you no longer need to carry a laptop with you.

    You have your files in a storage server (which can be yours or not), the calculations you need to run are done on CPU/GPU servers (which can be yours or not) and so on.
    Then, you can connect from any machine (which would be cheap and act as a terminal) anywhere in the world using your login(s) and have all your state preserved (doucements, media library, game saves, and even browser and editor state, if the system is smart enough), as well as full processing power. No need to download anything, except for caching. No need for local storage.

    Sharing is also simple although that's another story.

    This is an ideal system. But Dropbox, iTunes, Spotify, Netflix, cloud services and now game streaming are all steps in the right direction.
  • 0
    @obsecurity the thing is, you are only looking from the consumers point of view.

    From the publishers side its amazing since you dont need to handle the expensive DRM that have a huge impact on game performance, is cracked within a day and legitimite buyers have more problems with than illegal players.

    They want to push it because it saves them a lot of money.
  • 0
    @ItsNotMyFault a few minutes? Im already downloading my new VR games for my Valve Index which I receive in two weeks. An average download time is 28 hours over here (GTA V takes more than a week 24/6 downloading, Fez is downloaded in 10 minutes)

    For me its quicker to disconnect my PC and get on my bicycle, go to my friend 4km away and download from his place and go back. Im lucky if I reach 12Mb/s, my friend is annoyed when he gets only 750Mb/s
  • 0
    There are already services that rent could computers so you can play games with hardware you don't have.

    Having google's infrastructure behind it is clearly an advantage.

    I can't believe people don't see how this can work, provided you have the correct bandwidth
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