Unlike streaming movies or music, gaming requires constant inputs from a user. Those button presses need to be sent to a computer server hundreds of miles away, tell your character how to move in the game, then have the video information fired back to your device where it’s displayed. Even the slightest hint of latency, or lag, will throw off the whole experience.
There’s also the fact that service providers need to build out data centers across the country dedicated to playing games. A company couldn’t, for example, build a data center in California and expect customers to play using its computers in New York; the latency would be too much to make the game truly playable.
It’s not just making sure the data can get back and forth from your device quickly, though. As Nvidia’s senior product manager for GeForce Now Andrew Fear points out, gamers’ home routers can be a chokepoint for data speeds that can impact the ability to stream games.
“You hear these great advertisements for like Fios, ‘Get 300 mbps in your home, AT&T (T) get your 1Gb broadband, these are really great stories of like the pipe as it ends up at your front doorstep or coming into your garage where it’s perfect,’ ” Fear said. “But then try getting that into your house at 100% quality everywhere, and you’ll find that what happens is people tend to have really bad routers or bad network setups that don’t have good quality.”
Fear, however, said that Nvidia is working with router companies to ensure that data speeds are up to snuff when it comes to handling streaming game data.
The benefits to game companies
The ability to play games whenever and wherever you want sounds great for gamers, but cloud services would also provide a real benefit to game companies like Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. That’s because instead of having to sink money into manufacturing and selling the hardware gamers need to play games, a one-time purchase, they can charge monthly or yearly fees, generating a constant revenue stream. Consumers, meanwhile, get to access their games anywhere they want.