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Cloud gaming, sometimes called gaming on demand, is a type of online gaming that aims to provide smooth and direct playability to end users of games across various devices. This could include a host gaming server capable of executing a gaming engine and streaming the gaming data to the client device. Currently there are two main types of cloud gaming: cloud gaming based on video streaming and cloud gaming based on file streaming. Some also categorize it into four models: video-based cloud gaming, instruction-based cloud gaming, file-based cloud gaming, and component-based cloud gaming.
In 2000, G-cluster demonstrated cloud gaming technology at E3. The original offering was cloud gaming service over Wi-Fi to handheld devices. Video game developer Crytek began the research on a cloud gaming system in 2005 for Crysis, but halted development in 2007 to wait until the infrastructure and cable Internet providers were up for the task.
OnLive was officially launched in March 2010, and its game service began in June with the sale of its OnLive microconsole. On April 2, 2015, it was announced that Sony Computer Entertainment had acquired OnLive's patents, and OnLive closed its doors. In November 2010, SFR launched a commercial cloud gaming service on IPTV in France, powered by G-cluster technology. And the following year Orange France unveiled its gaming service on IPTV based on G-cluster technology.
Gaikai was launched internationally on February 27, 2011 with Dead Space 2, The Sims 3, Spore, and Mass Effect 2. Sony Computer Entertainment acquired Gaikai on July 2, 2012, for $380 million USD. Sony announced PlayStation Now on January 7, 2014.
The Blade SAS Group launched Shadow, their flagship cloud gaming service in France in 2017. By October 2018, Shadow announced that it was live in 19 states across the east and west coast of the US, with further plans to expand nationwide.
GeForce Now is a cloud-based game-streaming service offered by Nvidia that was launched on October 1, 2015. It is cloud-based and all allows users to play games directly from the web, with its servers that offer content - including 3D games - that encode frames immediately, sending the data to wire/wireless Internet connection accordingly. The Nvidia GRID includes both graphics processing and video encoding into a single device which is able to decrease the input to display latency of cloud base video game streaming. This is important due to the impact that latency will have between what the user does and when the action shows on their screen.
Loudplay announced expansion of its cloud gaming service to Ukraine, Belarus and few other Eastern Europe locations on May 18, 2018. On November 21, 2018 Loudplay in partnership with Rostelecom and Huawei has demonstrated the first 5G cloud gaming showcase in Europe (in Innopolis).
Google unveiled Project Stream on October 1, 2018. From October 5, 2018 to January 15, 2019 a limited number of US participants could play Assassin's Creed Odyssey through Google Chrome. The project was formally announced at the 2019 Game Developers Conference on March 19, 2019 as Stadia. Stadia supports gameplay at 4K at 60 fps and future plans for scaling to 8K at 120 fps.
Microsoft unveiled Project xCloud on October 8, 2018, which aims to incorporate Microsoft Azure cloud services into cloud gaming. In May 2019, Sony Interactive Entertainment and Microsoft signed an agreement to co-develop cloud solutions across several divisions, including cloud gaming, with the potential for Sony to use Azure services as part of its offerings. As of May 24, 2019, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President, Kareem Choudry, announced that Project xCloud could already stream 3,500 Xbox titles.
Cloud gaming is an umbrella category of online game distribution. The most common methods of cloud gaming currently are video (or pixel) streaming and file streaming.
Cloud gaming, also in some cases called "gaming on demand", is a type of online gaming that allows direct and on-demand video streaming of games onto computers, consoles, and mobile devices, similar to video on demand, through the use of a thin client. The actual game is stored, executed, and rendered on the remote operator's or game company's server and the video results are streamed directly to a consumer's computers over the internet. This allows access to games without the need of a console and largely makes the capability of the user's computer unimportant, as the server is the system that is running the processing needs. The controls and button presses from the user are transmitted directly to the server, where they are recorded, and the server then sends back the game's response to the input controls.
Gaming on demand is a game service which takes advantage of a broadband connection, large server clusters, encryption, and compression to stream game content to a subscriber's device. Users can play games without downloading or installing the actual game. Game content is not stored on the user's hard drive and game code execution occurs primarily at the server cluster, so the subscriber can use a less powerful computer to play the game than the game would normally require, since the server does all performance-intensive operations usually done by the end user's computer. Most cloud gaming platforms are closed and proprietary; the first open-source cloud gaming platform was only released in April, 2013.
P2P cloudless gaming – a type of cloud gaming, where remote computers for game execution represented by community of individuals. The critical difference from cloud gaming is that game is executed on an actual PC and it is streamed on one-to-one basis. The actual game is stored, executed, and rendered on the remote computer station and the video results are streamed directly to a consumer's computer over the Internet. P2P cloudless gaming allows closing latency gap: the remote computer could be located within one internet provider. The network protocol in P2P cloud gaming smartly chooses the best fit between the remote computer and the consumer's device.
Cloud gaming based on file streaming, also known as "progressive downloading", deploys a thin client in which the actual game is run on the user's gaming device, such as a mobile device, a PC, or a console. A small part of a game, usually less than 5% of the total game size, is downloaded initially so that the gamer can start playing quickly. The remaining game content is downloaded to the end user's device while playing. This allows instant access to games with low bandwidth Internet connections without lag. The cloud is used for providing a scalable way of streaming the game content and big data analysis. Cloud gaming based on file streaming requires a device that has the hardware capabilities to operate the game. Often, downloaded game content is stored on the end user's device where it is cached.
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