Every gamer is familiar with the phrase “console wars.” They have been raging on since consoles first appeared. But what if the battle between Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo could come to an end? Imagine a future where you didn't have to take a leap of faith on one console and hope that games you like don't get exclusively released on another. How amazing would gaming be if you didn't have to list positives and negatives before deciding which system to buy? What if we lived in a future where you could buy a game and play it literally anywhere you wanted?
Many companies in the industry believe this is a possible future. Cloud-based gaming is moving from the stuff of science fiction to reality. It's already available with Steam Link, which can stream your titles from your Steam library to any other computer or mobile device. A similar program from Nvidia is in the works. Their Geforce Now service is set to allow gamers to play high end titles on any PC or Mac, regardless of whether it has the hardware to handle it. Even a cheap pre-built computer will be able to play games that are very demanding.
These two options still rely on PCs for gaming, but companies like Microsoft and Ubisoft believe even more is coming. Both believe that gaming has become more about buying a game once and playing it on any system or platform. Ubisoft Co-Founder and CEO Yves Guillemot is certain that this future is right around the corner. He told Variety, “There will be one more console generation and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us.” It's a pretty bold statement to make, considering streaming services are no where near as popular as the current systems. But who knows? Technology has always advanced at mindbogglingly fast rates. Perhaps another five years of a console's live cycle will be enough time for cloud-based gaming to reach universally accepted levels.
As far as I'm concerned, the biggest hurdle to overcome is the Internet. You have to have a speedy and stable Internet connection in order to stream anything, especially games. Nothing would be worse than to be immersed in a title, only to have it crash because the Internet went down. Or worse, to have your favorite time-waster chug along or refuse to play because the Internet speed is too slow to handle it. Internet speeds vary vastly depending on where you are located, how much you can afford to pay, and how your router is feeling that day. I've had days where my Internet speeds were as low as 2mbps, and plenty more where it never reached the double digits. Clearly, that is absolutely not enough to support any kind of game streaming. Until we can consistently provide better and faster Internet for the majority of gamers, no matter their location or budget, universal cloud-based gaming seems a little out of reach.
Putting that concern aside, it is wonderful to imagine a world where console wars have come to an end. I'd love to be able to buy a game with the knowledge that I could play it on my television, my phone, my tablet, my PC, or my Holodeck. Gaming industry giants like Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo could move away from hardware development and focus on making games. With no need to worry about what player's systems can handle, developers could create titles that are beyond our current wildest dreams. We could stop arguing over whether the PlayStation or the Xbox rules the world. Our attention could be more zeroed in on the subject that really matters: the games.
What do you think of this potential future for gaming? Will you hold on to your consoles staunchlly or embrace an era of gaming everywhere?