CES 2020: Rise of cloud gaming and death of the video game console

Look, ma! No game console!

Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.

Gamers who’ve been round since the days of Atari could discover it exhausting to imagine that video games right this moment are of the identical inventory: video games that began with a number of beeps and bouncing lights have developed into advanced narratives with graphics so sharp you possibly can see a personality’s each eyelash. 

While builders proceed to enhance video games’ graphics, the {hardware} is of course getting higher, too. But what if the new development is high-quality video games with out {hardware}? 

In the subsequent few years, it is turning into much less doubtless that you’re going to want a console in any respect to play video games — a development we anticipate to see highlighted at CES 2020 in Las Vegas subsequent week. The yr 2019 noticed an enormous shift towards cloud gaming platforms, which let customers play video games on-line throughout numerous units via a bunch gaming server.  

Google, Microsoft and Apple over the final yr all launched gaming companies that do not require consoles, and it is fairly doubtless that we’ll see different tech and gaming titans tossing their hats into the cloud gaming ring in 2020. (That stated, consoles can be getting a brand new lease on life later in 2020 with the anticipated arrival of Sony’s PlayStation 5.)

Technically not a cloud gaming service, Apple Arcade launched in September. With a $4.99 (£4.99, AU$7.99) month-to-month subscription, customers get access to over 100 games which can be playable on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple TV. Some video games have began rolling out for Mac as effectively. 

Apple Arcade makes informal play simple wherever you might be and would not require an costly console buy. Instead, subscribers obtain video games from the App Store.

Google’s cloud gaming service, Google Stadia, launched in November, providing console players a severe gaming choice, minus the console. Though Stadia nonetheless has some kinks to work out, CNET’s Scott Stein’s review of Stadia says the service works over TVs, laptops and Pixel phones, the controller is comfy to carry and it is simple to renew saved video games when swapping units — delivering on some of the promise of cloud gaming. 

The early-edition Founder’s pack prices $120. The pack features a Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra, a brief USB-C-to-C cable, a Destiny 2 game obtain and three months of a $10-per-month Stadia Pro subscription service, which is required to entry of all of Stadia’s on-line options. A extra inexpensive model of Stadia, together with some main game titles, is due out in 2020.

Read extra: Google Stadia vs. Microsoft xCloud: The battle for cloud gaming

Microsoft’s Project xCloud gaming service may give Stadia some sizzling competitors — CNET’s Oscar Gonzalez calls it “the cloud gaming service to look at.” Though xCloud remains to be in preview, Microsoft plans to launch extra options in 2020. The service is supposed to be an extension of Microsoft’s consoles, and the firm stated it will be integral to its subsequent console, the Xbox Series X. Project xCloud’s limitless cupboard space implies that gamers can entry Xbox video games with out having to obtain them — a serious profit.

New platforms on show at CES 2020 will doubtless give us a better take a look at this development. For instance, iiRcade says it is the first standup arcade game with a built-in on-line game retailer platform for downloading a library of new and traditional titles. While it is not full cloud gaming, iiRcade demonstrates one of the ways in which cloud gaming will be tweaked for a number of gaming mediums. 

Gaming is not a one-size-fits-all expertise, however few folks would flip their nostril up at a extra handy or accessible expertise. Cloud gaming opens extra potentialities and audiences — whether or not the console is faraway from the equation or serves as an extension of the enjoying expertise. While it is unlikely that we’ll see consoles disappear utterly, cloud gaming is already shaking up the trade.

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