Jump to content
rllmuk
Sign in to follow this  
dumpster

Game streaming - the future, or a red herring?

Recommended Posts

When 'HD Ready' was a thing, I bought the worst TV I have ever owned, a Samsung DLP projection set. Apart from being totally unreliable and bulky, it had a screen lag that totally did my head in. The upscaler in the TV was a little slow.  Setting the DVD player, games console etc. to output 720p meant that the TV displayed the image just fine but anything that wasn't 720p (SD, component Wii, rf, scart) would be upscaled by the TV to 720p and it would take time to do it. This meant that the audio (from my amp) was slightly ahead of the image and I could tell from this that the TV was to blame.  However with video games it was just a weird experience. At first, I didn't notice the issue, but I felt that I'd lost my skills. Suddenly I was crap at games. After a while, I played arcade action titles and realised that Mario jumped just after I pressed the button and this meant that anything involving timing became really tricky.  With the help of Guitar Hero, I isolated that the TV was mere frames behind, but this tiny difference had a profound effect on the games.  Obviously fast arcade reaction games were completely ruined, but I was surprised at the effect on everything I tried. Platform games had a feel of those ice levels they used to do all the time, with the character falling off a platform you'd already reacted to.  You'd shoot someone but they'd have moved out of the way by the time you'd pressed the button.  

This for me thinking about streaming services. They seem to be the next big thing with PS Now, Antstream, Apple, Shadow, all making claims to be producing the best thing ever and I'd be interested in seeing this happen. But I know that once you notice the lag, you can see it all the time and lag became a huge bugbear for me, ruining every game I played because I knew it was there. Even games you wouldn't think would be affected became sluggish and felt, just wrong, in a way that was really hard to explain. Even doing a Sodoku game felt like a poor experience, and I'd suspect that little puzzle apps are probably the least lag-dependant games available.

So the idea of streaming, using a cheap, basic setup at home to receive stunning 4K resolutions etc sounds amazing to me, but there seems to be this elephant in the room where these services are all suggesting they have the technology to eliminate lag and make a streaming service that is every bit as good as playing the way we do know.  I don't believe this, and I don't see how that can be possible. Lag can be reduced, sure. But whatever the streaming service promises they can only improve at their end. You have all your wiring in your house that they cannot affect, and of course between you and them is the internet.  Even a few frames is enough to have a massively negative effect on the experience.

 

The drive to create these new streaming platforms appears to be driven by companies seeing the success of Netflix and realising that there is a lot of money to be made, rather than being driven by a need or demand for the service.  I'm wondering, is streaming ever going to be a viable replacement for what we have now? 

 

  • Upvote 3
  • Downvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, dumpster said:

I'm wondering, is streaming ever going to be a viable replacement for what we have now? 

 

People who don't notice/don't care -> yes

People who do -> no

 

If the former outnumbers the latter, then it'll happen anyway.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although I remain skeptical about how well it can be done, I'm still in favour of companies giving it a go. I think the forthcoming Antstream will be quite interesting - an entirely streamed selection of retro games from an era where rapid reflexes were hugely important. If Antstream can pull that off, I'll be impressed, because the challenge it faces isn't any easier just because the graphics are low fi. The graphics are not the problem.

 

My first playthrough of Alien Isolation was done using Steam Home Streaming, purely because I didn't have a long enough HDMI lead at the time to hook my PC up to my telly in the same room. It was an absorbing, terrifying and utterly amazing experience for all the right reasons, and it was only later when I played it natively that I realised there was a noticeable lag involved making Amanda's movement seem heavy and considered. It didn't impact my enjoyment of the game. 

 

If a streaming solution's lag is of that level (and many individuals report that they don't notice the issue when they're playing) then streaming has a future. Whether it can be applied to all games is another matter. As I only owned one Xbox One controller, I used to play PES 2016 against my mate by streaming to a PC so I could hook up a 360 pad. The bone controller was hooked directly, the output to the TV was from the console, and the PC was only used as a gateway for the second controller. Hence, there was a clear delay in button presses being registered compared to the native controller, and on a game that relies a lot on fast response to your input, the effects were noticeable enough to be detrimental. And this was on a local network - not pinged to some online server.

 

Longer term I'd have concerns about the ability for enthusiasts to preserve games. Say we move to an all-streaming approach in the next decade. In another thirty years, are those games going to be readily available if nobody but streaming companies ever had a copy of the game?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, stefcha said:

 

People who don't notice/don't care -> yes

People who do -> no

 

If the former outnumbers the latter, then it'll happen anyway.

 

It's no different to video streaming in that respect, but I suppose considering the bulk of (paying) customers are happy to stick with standard definition DVD, streaming is actually an improvement over that but inferior to massive bitrate BD.

 

Game streamings happening, even if people don't want it to. The lure of all those people on mobile and Smart TVs is too much to resist. Though they could at least architect games actually designed to be streamed, rather than retrofit the existing game design paradigms.

  • Upvote 1
  • Downvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It’ll work for some people, some of the time. The latter being an enormous barrier to getting and retaining customers. I’ve had great game streaming over a piddly ADSL connection but I haven’t been able to get my 100Mbps, fairly low latency wifi broadband to stream right since someone set up a new router three doors away. 

 

How do you sell a service and keep people on it when it can fall victim to that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find it it surprising and strange that lag is always mentioned as the main and only barrier to making game streaming viable. Aren't places like the UK and the USA (two pretty major markets) rife with draconian download caps even in 2019? Aren't major parts of those countries not yet serviced by a decent connection? How many more countries are in the same situation, and how does stuff like ending net neutrality the United States of Trumponia affect the viability of streaming for a large enough audience?

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a lot of variable in making it work well enough. Some of which are at the customer end. There's also bandwidth caps to consider even if a player has internet of the correct speed.

 

Given that both MS and Google are heavily investing in the tech and the rumour is that MS plan to launch some kind of service this year I'd be surprised not to see it getting a big push over the next few years (And likely mostly at the start of whatever the next gen turns out to be).

 

I've had mixed experiences with it so far. I couldn't even activate a PSNow trial since Sony deemed my 32meg connection wasn't fast enough (Their speedtest said I had six meg) and yet that same week I was happily playing Bloodborne on my friend's PS4 over the same connection via shareplay.

 

I'd rather have the games playing natively but if they get the tech to a point where it's worth it for a large proportion of the games it could be a viable option in some circumstances. At work and fancy playing some Destiny? Break out that Switch, get on the work wifi and launch your XBox Gamepass app :)

 

Generally I believe it's going to be heavily pushed as an option next gen but we're still going to have native games for the foreseeable future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I played Arkham City via GeForce Now over a 25 meg mobile connection, which is the best I could get locally. Free to Shield owners for a bit. Software detection targeted 720p but could get a little blurry at times. Occassional annoying complete drops were a bigger issue than responsiveness. 

 

Eliminate those and have a decent selection of games and I'd happily pay a Netflix style fee for access. But I couldn't see my using it as my sole gaming system. Some people might though, itll depend on your tolerance for technical imperfections / desired for hitting the really top end and what games you are into. But it'll definitely be part of the mix, convenience will make it worthwhile for a lot of people aside from anything else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Mr. Gerbik said:

I find it it surprising and strange that lag is always mentioned as the main and only barrier to making game streaming viable. Aren't places like the UK and the USA (two pretty major markets) rife with draconian download caps even in 2019? Aren't major parts of those countries not yet serviced by a decent connection? How many more countries are in the same situation, and how does stuff like ending net neutrality the United States of Trumponia affect the viability of streaming for a large enough audience?

 

I don't think streaming is really about countries with high console ownership in the first place, if you consider that even with every single person accounted for, you aren't even half-way to reaching 2 Billion potential customers appealing to people in those countries.

 

I think you need to think outside the box on this one and view it not from an existing gaming customer POV.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Flub said:

Generally I believe it's going to be heavily pushed as an option next gen but we're still going to have native games for the foreseeable future.

This is what I expect also. As long as they offer both options, everybody should be happpy. If, at a certain point streaming is the only way to play new games then I've got enough older titles waiting to be played in my backlog to last me a hundred years easy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, mushashi said:

 

I don't think streaming is really about countries with high console ownership in the first place, if you consider that even with every single person accounted for, you aren't even half-way to reaching 2 Billion potential customers appealing to people in those countries.

 

I think you need to think outside the box on this one and view it not from an existing gaming customer POV.

That's exactly what I'm doing though, yer existing average gamer will likely have a decent connection and be willing to pay to get around download caps. For people outside of that audience, be that in the UK or USA, or outside those traditional countries where the current state of the network may very well be similarly bad, how big of a roadblock will this be? Streamed games are going to compete directly with the popularity of YouTube and Netflix et al for the limited and precious download cap allowance. Maybe I'm talking nonsense, but I'm wondering whether this could be a potential roadblock. Note that I'm making assumptions on the state of USA and UK connectivity based on the amount of complaining I read in here and in other places.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A while back, I watched my nephews playing Fortnite on a TV setup with massive latency. I found it absolutely, completely unplayable; they didn't give a shit. And they were doing totally fine in the game too. I've played streaming services - even years back - that delivered smaller latency than that bloody TV setup. Which makes me think that streaming services have a good shot at working out for a lot of players, though there will always be people for who it's a total no-go. (I also fully expect to see stream-players viewed as casuals by local hardware players in the future, who call themselves the master race, etc)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Mr. Gerbik said:

That's exactly what I'm doing though, yer existing average gamer will likely have a decent connection and be willing to pay to get around download caps. For people outside of that audience, be that in the UK or USA, or outside those traditional countries where the current state of the network may very well be similarly bad, how big of a roadblock will this be? Streamed games are going to compete directly with the popularity of YouTube and Netflix et al for the limited and precious download cap allowance. Maybe I'm talking nonsense, but I'm wondering whether this could be a potential roadblock. Note that I'm making assumptions on the state of USA and UK connectivity based on the amount of complaining I read in here and in other places.

 

It's more an additive product than a replacement product at this point in time. They specifically talk about making it work well with mobile data networks and how streaming will allow big console-style games to reach a bigger audience, as existing mobile and PC online games are already reaching a pretty big audience as-is.

 

Data caps could indeed be a problem for uptake in certain parts of the world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Couch Corpse said:

Don't underestimate the masses tolerance/ignorance for poor visual fidelity.

 

Yup.  It's going to be akin to the people who play retro and insist they use CRT to the 90% of other retro gamers that give zero fucks they're playing on non CRT Tv's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A future? Sure. The future? I don't know... the bandwidth involved seems like it would be a bit of a luxury until connections get more efficient and cheaper. Besides, weren't we supposed to be against an always-online world back in 2013? ;) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, rafaqat said:

 

Yup.  It's going to be akin to the people who play retro and insist they use CRT to the 90% of other retro gamers that give zero fucks they're playing on non CRT Tv's.

I don't really see that as the main barrier. Even if people are willing to tolerate touch controls over a proper controller, tiny text and visuals etc. the real problem will be having a connection stable enough for it to actually work and not eat up all their data, and that's before we even consider the price of a subscription. Sure, for us lot who play games all the time and are enthusiasts of the medium, it's great value, but for those who just play Minecraft, Fortnite or whatever it might not be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Worth keeping in mind that all the rumours indicate that Microsoft is aiming to get two next-gen Xboxes out there: one Xbox One X style fancy powerful box that plays all the latest and greatest locally, and one cheap streaming Xbox without a disc drive. So whoever is worried about streaming being the future of ALL gaming, probably doesn't need to worry for at least another 7 to 8 years. And maybe both options - local and streaming - will coexist even in the generation after that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really don't see the point of that streaming Xbox. Surely the point of streaming, the only real reason to use it, is to bypass hardware entirely to reach customers who aren't buying consoles. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Stanley said:

I really don't see the point of that streaming Xbox. Surely the point of streaming, the only real reason to use it, is to bypass hardware entirely to reach customers who aren't buying consoles. 

 

Different price points will entice different people to jump in.   

 

Full fat - Full price

Streaming box - middle for those who don't own the other consoles maybe?

Software only solution for people who already have the other consoles that it can run on 

Software only solution for people who own no consoles and arent even in the gaming market that can play on tablet or phone. 

 

they all have a different appetite for latency/price and what they want to play. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, rafaqat said:

 

Different price points will entice different people to jump in.   

 

Will it though? I mean no doubt it will be cheaper, but if they're going to be streaming the same games to smart phones and TV's anyway it seems pointless to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Stanley said:

Will it though? I mean no doubt it will be cheaper, but if they're going to be streaming the same games to smart phones and TV's anyway it seems pointless to me.

 

Perhaps you are not the target market.  :)

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A streaming-only console would presumably be something like a Chromecast or Amazon Fire stick, bundled with a pad and a headset. Would be handy for taking on holiday, if nothing else.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's an experiment worth trying.   The streaming box MIGHT have something in it to do some local stuff.  Who knows?

If it doesn't work out then they've still got the full fat box or software only strands of the strategy to plow on with. 

 

Feels like a sensible risk mitigation. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Stanley said:

Who is?

 

People who don't buy consoles till they get to under a £100 maybe?   Or people who just don't buy games right now?   Or people who don't game very often and the streaming solution is the cheaper option for them to get instant access to stuff when they do fancy dipping in here and there. 

 

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, rafaqat said:

I think it's an experiment worth trying.   The streaming box MIGHT have something in it to do some local stuff.  Who knows?

If it doesn't work out then they've still got the full fat box or software only strands of the strategy to plow on with. 

 

Feels like a sensible risk mitigation. 

 

But if it needs local processing to work more efficiently don't you then have to question how good the service will be? You're not gonna reach 2 billion customers by selling them a box.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Stanley said:

But if it needs local processing to work more efficiently don't you then have to question how good the service will be? You're not gonna reach 2 billion customers by selling them a box.

 

Like I said.  I don't know what the box will contain. It might be just a streaming dongle with a headset and pad. 

 

It might be something that somehow does some local processing giving you another price point on what the quality might be like.  Who knows!

 

You're arguing about a piece of hardware we know nothing about and using that as some sort of reason for why streaming won't work as a whole.  :)

 

It'll work to varying degrees depending on connection.  Will it have plenty of hiccups initially. Yes. Will it get better?    Yes.  Are we going to beat the speed of light?  No.  Will some people not give a fuck?   Yes.  

 

I'm happy they're trying a few things out.   

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.