Written by Craig Beddis

4 min read

Cloud Gaming Today Is ‘Lazy Cloud’, Cloud Gaming Tomorrow Is Cloud-Native and Easy

  • Gaming

So let’s be direct; Cloud Gaming has had a lacklustre launch because it’s not a true experience.

Consumers feel burned – the experience so far has under delivered significantly and, despite all the fanfare and promise, the new age of gaming is dodgy at best. 

Developers have not embraced it in any way. Developers are continuing with traditional development processes and Cloud Gaming is simply a new storefront from which to sell their titles.

Jonathan Lai, an investment partner at Andreessen Horowitz, posted yesterday about The Promise of Cloud-Native Games.

We loved reading Jonathan’s post and there were some key points that we completely agree with. There are however, three key areas that we see are missing from Jon’s post, centring around:

  1. By adopting Cloud-Native Games, the entire development process will turn on its head.
  2. With the change of the development processes, AAA studios will take on new business models.
  3. Finally, and arguably most profoundly, players will form deeper emotional connections with both their games.

Game Development Turns on Its Head

AAA games are fraught with risk. 

The market has grown significantly, both in terms of spend and investment, and in-turn so too have consumer and shareholder demands shifted. A traditional AAA title usually costs between $70m to $100m and takes between four to seven years to develop. 

If teams fail to deliver against key delivery milestones or if market trends move in a different direction, many games risk being left on the cutting room floor, never seeing the light of day.

However, once developers integrate cloud-native game tools into their development cycle, the whole process accelerates exponentially. Designers are no longer constrained by hardware limitations, engineering teams do not need to focus on optimising for various systems – but rather, just one. Studios no longer have to make the choice between fidelity or scale. 

They can have both; fidelity and scale.

Not just this, but instead of gameplay engineers having to deal with menial DevOps, sellotaping over the cracks of an antiquated technology stack, developers become unshackled – empowered to build the games they dreamed of making.

Because of this, smaller teams can prototype faster and more effectively than ever before – spinning up deployments with one click and testing their work to ensure it works in editor, locally, and then distributedly in the space of minutes. Studios streamline the process of testing and iterating,  battle-hardening their tech before it even leaves the building. 

Thanks to new-found efficiency, game developers see a much faster time-to-market, delivering early-access versions of their games in a fraction of the time previously required.

A Brand New Business Model for the Gaming Industry

As the shift to a new development cycle occurs, the business models of the industry will change. Studios tend to have numerous projects on the go at once, all at various stages of production. 

However, studios can move from a small number of high-risk projects to a higher number of low-risk games. Smaller teams achieving the heights of what was previously only attainable with an army of developers by using cloud-native tools.

Risk is mitigated and the onus on the next studio-saving revenue stream is not limited to one title – but instead, the net can be cast wider.

A Far Deeper Emotional Connection

Something that Jon touches on in his post is the move towards social games with cloud-native MMOs growing like social networks. However, we don't feel like this goes far enough.

Cloud-Native Games will enable gamers to enjoy a much larger scale world than ever before and see all of their friends within a single space – no longer suffering with the traditional limitations of location-based servers or the device they use. 

Players will naturally build stronger and emotional ties to the games, the environment in which they play. This is because the game no longer is a single space in which they play – rather it is the space in which they engage with their friends and make memories together. 

They are able to engage with the game worlds to such a degree that was never previously attainable all accessible across any device, at any time, from any location in the world – as long as there’s an internet connection.

Because of the level of personal investment which players make into these virtual worlds, these spaces become far more important  emotionally than the artificially-restrained ones of yesteryear.

Therefore, although the social network effects cannot be overlooked, it has to be stressed that the emotional connection goes both sideways and downwards – both to their friends and to the game itself.

This isn’t just spin. We’ve done this. The work we’ve done with CCP Games with EVE Aether Wars, as well as new projects going on with Minecraft and other studios, are all Cloud-Native Games. The studios are already starting to see the change in conception, formulation, and development – all of which leads into the changes to the business models and player’s deeper emotional attachment.

Cloud Gaming as it is today, is not Cloud Gaming. It’s lazy Cloud Gaming. Companies are just porting existing games to the cloud, to get their very own cloud wheels spinning, which is fair enough if that’s their business model. 

Cloud-Native Games are coming on a large-scale and, once that happens, the true opportunity business model surrounding Cloud Gaming will become apparent. People will be able to focus on building the games they want, bigger and more exciting not limited by the technology of today. They will be able to build games faster and for far less cost. The focus will be on designing and creating games, not building and maintaining proprietary technology. 

So Jon, if you’re reading this – we love your insights, but we think you’re missing some key aspects here. Would love to chat more and, by the way, we’re looking for future partners for our next raise. Just as an FYI.