Tech giants are racing to take advantage of the ‘crucial time’ for cloud gaming, which wants to change how you play.

Iran PressSci & Tech: Imagine video gamers, untethered from their computers and consoles, playing crystal-clear versions of their favorite games anywhere. They might traverse the futuristic world of the sci-fi shooter game Halo on their mobile phones while riding the subway, or dust off old MacBook computers and hop straight into the jungle of the battle arena game League of Legends.

That’s the rosy future promised by cloud gaming, a nascent technology that could reshape how people play games. And depending on whom you ask, that future might have arrived already, The New York Times reported.

On Thursday, Facebook announced that it had expanded the reach of its cloud gaming platform, which was released last fall, to cover 98 percent of the mainland United States. Also this week, Microsoft made its cloud gaming service available on more devices. And Amazon broadened access to its burgeoning cloud service, giving Prime members a free trial version during its Prime Day last month.

It has been a busy period for the small but growing cloud gaming industry, which is expected to surpass $1 billion in revenue and 23 million paying customers by the end of this year, according to Newzoo, a gaming analytics firm. Revenue is projected to grow to more than $5 billion by 2023 as the technology improves.

“After years of development, now is a crucial time for cloud gaming to gain mainstream prominence,” said Rupantar Guha, a gaming analyst at the analytics company GlobalData.

Cloud gaming, at its core, is the ability to separate the technical power required to play a video game from the device it is being played on. That is accomplished by using remote data centers, which harness a company’s processing power and stream a game directly to a user’s device.

That means games will no longer be tied to specific platforms or devices, so Halo could be played not only on an Xbox console but on a mobile phone or streamed directly to a television. Someone could use the power of the cloud to play a high-quality, graphics-intensive game on an older or weaker device.

That could lead people to spend less time and money on expensive video game consoles from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, and to turn away from pricey gaming computers. They could theoretically play new games instantaneously on any device anywhere.

It sounds great in theory. But cloud gaming, which is still in an experimental phase, is sometimes bogged down by glitches that frustrate users. And it requires a strong local internet connection.

Cloud gaming could also shake up the supremacy that Sony, Microsoft and other hardware manufacturers have enjoyed in video games. Instead, tech giants like Google and Amazon are barreling in and “see this as a breakthrough opportunity to get into the global games market,” said Guilherme Fernandes, Newzoo’s cloud gaming expert.


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