The use of remote servers to facilitate our increasingly connected lives is having a huge impact on the way we interact with existing software formats. As internet speeds improve and the processing power of our computing devices increases, we are seeing a broader move towards hosting our data and services online in the cloud. Whether that’s television, films and video with the rise and ubiquity of services like YouTube and Netflix, or opting to enjoy our favourite tunes on the likes of Spotify and SoundCloud.
Even our private data, our photos and documents, are increasingly backed up to services like Google Photos and Dropbox. It follows then that where, and how, we choose to play games is moving in this same direction. Below are some of the most promising and exciting examples of digital gaming clients available today for you to play on-demand, wherever you are.
Steam is a digital gaming store and platform created by Half Life developers Valve. Since 2003 it has grown to become the premier gaming service on Windows computers, with Linux and MacOS variants of the software eventually following. What makes Steam unique is its integration. It serves as a review platform, community base, chat client and game library for its 95 million monthly users.
The platform has been growing and diversifying its profile with the arrival of mobile apps for iOS and Android and an expansion into the areas of hardware design and traditional media streaming services. It is no understatement to say that Steam holds a monopoly over the PC gaming sector, where it hosts 34,000 different titles and accounts for 75% of all digital games sales on computers.
Social Web Gaming
Gaming platforms don’t need to be all high end with the latest titles to be eminently playable. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than with Facebook’s in-house library of HTML5 games, many of which are ports of popular mobile apps such as 8 Ball Pool, Scrabble or Candy Crush Saga. What makes electing to play these games within Facebook’s platform so appealing is that you can invite anyone on your friends list to play along with you, compete in global leaderboards and share your results to your newsfeed.
Another example can be found with PokerStars’ gaming platform. Feature-packed with leaderboards, rich statistics and the ability to play across a huge range of poker variants and stake levels there’s something for everyone looking to unwind over some cards. They also offer access via the app for Android and iOS on the go, or use the desktop-based client to play along on Windows and MacOS.
In 2019 Google unveiled their innovative take on a cloud gaming service in Google Stadia. What distinguishes Stadia from virtually all other gaming services is all you require in order to play is a compatible controller and your mobile device, computer or television. This is because Stadia doesn’t rely on the physical hardware you’re interacting with in order to push its pixels, rather it streams the game in real time to you, enabling you to play next generation Triple A titles through your mobile browser.
The platform was eagerly anticipated ahead of its release, and despite initial supply issues at launch the platform has been quietly carving out a name for itself in the cloud gaming space. Recently Stadia found itself unexpectedly in the spotlight in the wake of the general release of CD Projekt’s open world sci-fi game Cyberpunk 2077. Due to poor performance and many bugs on the base model Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game, many players migrated to the much more stable Stadia port to get their near-future crime fix.
Others are interested to see what Stadia can do in the eSports sector in the wake of Google introducing live competitive game streaming from the platform direct to YouTube, hoping to take a bite out of Twitch.tv’s dominance in the space.