In 2022, Cloud Gaming Should be Additive, Not the Whole Product
Towards the end of Sora's Super Smash Bros. Ultimate reveal trailer, Square added another tease for Kingdom Hearts fans - all of the games up until that point coming to the Nintendo Switch. There was one catch though, that they were all cloud versions. After the release of a free demo, fans are calling the games "unplayable".
Game streaming has gotten so much better over the past decade, but it's still not good enough as a standalone product, in my opinion. While latency is getting better, it's still not perfect, and there remain a few major holdups with paying for games on these services.
- If the company running the streaming service goes under, your games go away.
- If you're offline or have at all spotty internet, your single-player games become unusable.
I love game streaming as an option, though. Playing Forza Horizon 5 on my iPad is a magical thing, and it wouldn't be possible without game streaming. That said, I would never buy the game only to stream on the iPad. Again, it's a great added value, but today I think that's it.
The good news is that most gaming companies are treating streaming this way today. Xbox Game Pass gives you a library of games you can play locally or online. If you buy a specific game, you can play it locally forever. NVIDIA's GeForce Now service lets you take games you've purchsed on other PC game stores and play them in the cloud as well.
The only company asking you to buy cloud-only versions of games is Google Stadia, and it's no wonder that they seem to be the one having the most trouble keeping users on the platform. Although even they seem to be pivoting to the Game Pass-style subscription where you get a ton of games with a monthly fee, which is better, but it took them way too long to get there, and I think they squandered any momentum they could have hoped to gain.