Tell GR: Is game streaming the future of video games?

A lot is being made about game streaming. With companies such as Microsoft factoring it heavily into their future plans, we’ve been left wondering if gaming is destined to veer into Netflix territory and even digital downloads will go the way of the dodo.

We asked GameRevolution’s editors what they thought of game streaming, and if they believed it was set to become the future of the video game industry. As always, share your own thoughts in the comments section below, and we’ll feature our favorite response in tomorrow’s Tell GR!

Paul Tamburro, executive editor: “Yes, but not in the immediate future. Globally, internet speeds are rapidly improving. While we aren’t at the point where all markets have average internet speeds that would allow for game streaming, we’re certainly getting there. Eventually, I imagine we’ll reach a point where services like Xbox Game Pass offer streaming options along with digital downloads. Physical copies will go the way of Blu-rays, with a market for them still existing for a number of years, despite sales steadily reducing as we head towards our terrifying, digital-only future. Game streaming will occupy a space like Netflix, though the higher speeds required for it won’t make it anywhere near as popular for a considerable amount of time.”

Jason Faulkner, senior editor: “Not if telecom companies have anything to do with it. Huge swaths of the world still have subpar internet and some people who do have the speed it would take to steadily run a game stream are limited by data caps. Game streaming is a decent idea in theory, but I’d go as far as to say that half of the world’s gamers wouldn’t be able to use it reliably. On a 300 Mbs connection I still see latency issues with PS Now and I don’t foresee that being something solvable in the immediate future. No matter how fast your connection is there’s always going to be a loss in fidelity and input speed in comparison to a game that you’re running straight off your console/PC. I could see things like PS Now continue to flourish, especially for offering games from previous generations for play, but I can say that if someone goes all streaming I will immediately favor anyone who still allows me to buy my own games and play them locally.”

Mack Ashworth, lead editor: “It’s hard to take game streaming seriously when so many of us are still dealing with slow internet speeds. It’s going to be a long while before streaming games becomes mainstream, if it ever happens at all. Unlike Netflix, games suffer hugely where lag is introduced. And compression artifacts are more noticeable in games, especially where having a clear image gives a competitive advantage.”

Bradley Russell, news editor: “No, unless there are huge leaps in technology within the next five years when it comes to internet infrastructure. Huge swathes of the developed world don’t have access to the kind of internet that would be able to effectively run streaming. Companies aren’t going to bet the house on something that 80% of its audience will immediately be excluded from, because someone is just going to offer an ‘old media’ (i.e. physical discs) alternative. Heck, I couldn’t even run PS Now on a 200 MB/s connection so I’d be massively surprised if we see something workable by even 2020.”

Michael Leri, features editor: “It’s going to be a form of technology that’s relegated for lower-tier gaming for a long as it is relevant. Backwards compatibility is a passable way to test the waters since it isn’t that important but there’s always going to be some sort of delay that’s always going to relegate it to that lower tier. Games would have to made for that delay in mind, which is troubling since there are plenty of games that can barely feel responsible locally. Translating Netflix’s business model to gaming will have a lot of trouble working given the big differences between mediums.”

Yesterday’s Best Comment

Question: What Star Wars game would you make?

Davejuh: “Definitely a Rogue Squadron game with (couch) co-op available right from the start. Ace Combat 7 filled a gap in action/air games and now Rogue Squadron should be the next big thing. Lengthy single-player campaign, different modes or even ‘design your own objectives’- sandbox across a random-level-generator on a certain planet.”