Imagine you never had to worry about updating your gaming system to the latest required industry-standard specs only to be able to keep playing new games. Imagine you could own and play hundreds even thousands of games without ever worrying about running out of storage space. And now imagine being able to enjoy these benefits from anywhere you want. That is what cloud gaming as a service has to offer – A Netflix for games. And cloud gaming in India could very well be how our future generations will play their favourite games. There are two companies offering this service to us as of now – The Gaming Project and Doofy.
While this could be the possible future for the gaming industry, it is not really the road less travelled though. This progression trend has already taken place in the music and movie industry. Both the industries have normalized streaming culture and people are hardly downloading content now much less buying CDs/DVDs etc. However, this transition is not that straightforward when it comes to gaming, which as an industry generates more revenue than both music and movie industry combined.
Failed attempts of the past leading to a promising future
The industry has tried many iterations of this idea in the past decade but was always met with a number of technological or economic constraints. OnLive, launched in 2010, was one such service that enabled users to play games for a subscription fee. The service received mixed reviews post-launch. The critics found the service easy to use and promising for the future. The major areas of improvement were found to be graphics and lag issues caused due to unreliable internet connections. The company lost a ton of value in the next five years and was eventually acquired by Sony Interactive Entertainment in 2015 and formed the basis for Sony’s cloud service Playstation Now.
And it’s not just Sony, many industry giants like Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, Amazon, Walmart etc. as well are all experimenting to redefine the value chain. Google and Microsoft have even launched their cloud gaming services Stadia and xCloud respectively in many North American & European countries.
The Indian Startups
The two startups to introduce cloud gaming in India, The Gaming Project & Doofy, offer a very similar product. The subscribed users can start playing a game that streams over cloud from the servers of the service provider.
The online functionality is absolutely remarkable and in line with the current industry trends. We might even be witnessing the beginning of the end of all consoles as we know it.
But is India ready for it?
In an interview with CNN News 18, one of the founders of Doofy, Anirudh Balagopal cites inconsistent internet connectivity as one of the primary concerns for game streaming to be truly successful in India. Although, he did praise the rising number of fiber broadband connections across India and mentioned their service runs well on Jio Fiber for now. He recommends having at least a 100 Mbps connection for seamless gaming through cloud platforms. The bootstrapped venture currently charges Rs. 199, Rs. 499 and Rs. 999 for their daily, weekly and monthly plans respectively.
The Gaming Project was the first cloud gaming service to go live in India back in March this year. The service enables you to play games either in your web browser or your Android smartphone. In an interview with Animation Xpress, the co-founder of The Gaming Project, Sarang Atri claimed that more than 25,000 users have already experienced the product and gave a positive response. Unlike Doofy, The Gaming Project does offer a free plan to play a few games for six hours a month. Post which they can upgrade to either a weekend plan for Rs. 149 or a monthly plan for Rs. 499.
While the technology is still at a very nascent stage, it could prove to be a game-changer in India. Since in a price-sensitive market as ours, buying a laptop or a console for the sole purposes of gaming is not a common thing in most homes. The two startups have also managed to attract a lot of eyeballs towards an untapped market of sorts. There are reports of Google planning to launch Stadia in India soon and Microsoft is already working with Jio to introduce Project xCloud. The sector is finally getting the attention it deserves.
What other benefits do you guys think cloud gaming might bring? Tell me in the comments below.