Game streaming has been all the hype recently, especially with big names such as Google and Nvidia jumping onto the bandwagon. You probably have seen Google Stadia and Geforce Now popping up on headlines lately. But, what’s all the hype about?


What is Game Streaming?

Not to be confused with streaming gameplay on platforms like Twitch, game streaming is literally the exact opposite. In short, the game is run and processed on a server with the display output streamed to you via the internet. It is often called cloud gaming as it is one of the main types of cloud gaming.

Basically, the pitch is that you don’t need a “bangsawan” (high end)¬†gaming PC to play demanding games anymore since all of the processing will be done in cloud servers. All your PC needs to do is decode and show the image sent from the servers and then send back user input from your mouse and keyboard. Cool, right?

LiquidSky (MOBHouse Productions)
Example of how a game streaming service works (Image: LiquidSky)

But, wait…

If this sounds too good to be true to you, you’re not exactly wrong.

As you might be able to tell from looking at the picture above, latency is a big issue for game streaming. Once the cloud servers processes the image, it needs to be sent through the internet and to your device. This process might cause some latency. Also, user input such as from your mouse, keyboard, and controller needs to be sent back to the server to be processed. Yet another factor that causes latency.

This poses a big challenge to the providers as latency is a major factor in ensuring a good gaming experience, especially in multiplayer games. This also means that providers will need to have servers in as many places as possible to ensure good coverage across the globe. However, massive cloud providers like Google still faces latency issues with Stadia. It seems like we still have a long way to go.

Google Stadia Experience (MOBHouse Productions)
The Google Stadia Experience? (Image: r/PCMasterRace)

Types of Game Streaming Services

There are two types of game streaming services; Access to Games and No Access to Games.

1) Hardware + Software (PlayStation Now, Google Stadia)

This type of service is the most common. They offer you both the processing power of their servers as well as access to the games that they offer. For example, once you subscribe to PlayStation Now, you will have access to more than 800 PS4, PS3, and PS2 games as long as your subscription is active. PlayStation Now will also process and stream the games to your PS4 or PC. Therefore, you get both the hardware processing and games through this service.

2) Hardware Only (GeForce Now)

This second type of service is most well-known from the introduction of Nvidia GeForce Now, Nvidia’s own game streaming service. With this, you only get access to the hardware processing by Nvidia. This means you don’t actually get access to any games by subscribing to this service. With GeForce Now, you need to own the game itself on the supported platform to be able to stream it. Unlike others where you only have access to the games through the game streaming service, this second option allows you to play the game locally when you are not using the game streaming service.

Game Streaming Services (MOBHouse Productions)
Let the battle begin! (Image: Tom’s Guide)

Is this the future of gaming?

In my personal opinion, game streaming paving the path for the future of gaming. Perhaps sometime in the distant future, our grandchildren will have no need for powerful and expensive gaming PCs in order to play demanding games. Of course, we still have a long way to go until we reach that point. A lot of breakthroughs and innovations in this space are still needed to make game streaming as good as gaming locally.

So, what do you think? Have you tried out any game streaming services? Tell us in the comments below!