Guest Column|The future of gaming is in the clouds

Asia as a region, including India presents huge market opportunities for the gaming industry. According to a recent projection, the region is expected to be home to 1.5 billion gamers that will generate over $65 billion in revenue in 2020. The popularity in online gaming is reflected in ‘The State of Online Gaming 2021’ report commissioned by Limelight Networks, where the global average number of gaming hours per week jumped by 14 per cent to 8.5 hours in 2020. In India, a majority of the gamers surveyed spend an average of seven to 12 hours a week playing video games.

The rise of cloud or console-less gaming is also a key driver of growth in the already profitable video gaming industry. Since the launch of Steam in the early 2000s and most recently Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud, players in the gaming industry have been anticipating the domination of cloud gaming for a few years now. The State of Online Gaming 2021 report also pointed out the growth in popularity in video game streaming where we saw gamers in India spending more than five hours each week watching others play video games on Twitch and YouTube Gaming. With the social and interaction element involved, live streaming enhances a player’s gaming experience and expands endless possibilities within the video gaming industry. 

However, there are some barriers that need to be overcome before cloud gaming can fully take off.  

The report data shows that the top concern regarding cloud gaming services after subscription pricing, is game performance – specifically latency. With the goal of attracting and retaining discerning gamers, cloud gaming providers must now optimise their infrastructure to deliver an experience that rivals the traditional gaming applications, all within a reasonable price point. 

Faced with the pressures to deliver high-quality on-demand gaming experiences reliably and consistently, some of the largest gaming companies in the world are relying on content delivery network (CDN) providers to ensure a robust gaming architecture that supports the success of game launches and delivery of ongoing content.

To cope with the increasing volume and traffic of data worldwide, the Content Delivery Network (CDN) can make a big difference to the gaming experience, by working in tandem with edge compute to deliver interactive, action-oriented gameplay. 

With a secure global network embedded in strategically located Points-of-Presence (PoPs) around the world, CDN providers come with powerful edge compute capabilities where each player’s experience is computed individually and delivered instantly near the data source or network. 

By storing and delivering gaming data closer to end-users at the network’s edge, cloud gaming providers are able to deliver authentic high-performance digital experiences to anywhere in the globe, on virtually any devices. This not only improves performance and reduces operational costs, but it also provides a better experience for the end user.

While cloud gaming has yet to take off as quickly as the industry might have hoped, we know that the tipping point is coming.

Gaming providers are excited about the new opportunities that cloud gaming can bring, but the reality remains that they will be held to the same, or higher standards of video quality and game responsiveness. 

Whatever innovative trend may come next for the online gaming industry, cloud gaming requires speed and performance, and a CDN with low-latency edge compute capabilities may just be the thing it needs to lift the entire gaming experience into the cloud. 

(This article is contributed by Limelight Networks India country director Ashwin Rao and Animation Xpress does not necessarily subscribe to these views)