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What's a cloud game?



Cloud game services are emerging as a huge bridge in the IT industry. Google, Microsoft and mobile carriers, as well as the existing game industry, rushed to enter the cloud game service market. Cloud game services are not only tearing down the boundaries of consoles, PCs and mobile devices, but also promoting the convergence of the IT industry. Because it can establish a new platform market based on games.

What is Cloud Game?
Cloud games literally refer to cloud-based gaming services. This is a streaming method that turns games on the cloud, not on the device’s computing power, and sends screens through network connections. Based on these technologies, the company will allow users to freely enjoy games on any device, such as PCs, consoles, tablets, TVs and smartphones, regardless of device performance.

The important thing here is to erase the boundaries of PCs, consoles and mobile devices. Cloud games are a structure that handles game operations on a server and users receive streaming, so any device can connect to the network and enjoy high-end games if it has a screen. There is no need to download or install games. There is no separate update process because game updates are applied on data center servers. It is also free to store data. In other words, you can easily enjoy games anytime, anywhere.

Cloud games remove entry barriers to games that could only be enjoyed by PCs or console game consoles with certain specifications. The gaming industry has continued to grow, but its limitations have been apparent due to hardware constraints. It is difficult to expand users as they have to buy console game consoles for games or meet the specifications of PCs. Although the market looks bigger based on smartphones with one in each hand, it is not enough to enjoy full-fledged games. Cloud games can break down the boundaries of game platforms divided into consoles, PCs and mobile devices and bring new opportunities to the market.

Players in the Cloud Game Market
Cloud games are an old future. It is not a concept that has recently been created suddenly, and services have existed before. Since the late 2000s, many companies have jumped into the development of cloud games. Some of them include U.S. cloud game service provider Gaikana OnLive and Taiwan's Uvitus. However, due to limitations in network technology, the market was not as active as expected. As cloud games are connected to a network, latency has been pointed out as a limit. It is a problem that does not immediately respond to input of a user’s mouse or controller. Another problem is the low resolution of the game to compress the transmission data.

However, recent advances in network technology have set the stage for popularization as global companies jump in to see business feasibility In particular, with Google jumping in, the cloud game market is growing. Google announced its cloud game service "Stadia" at the Global Game Developers Conference GDC 2019 in San Francisco on March 19. Google has brought out its global data center infrastructure as a solution to cloud games.

In 2015, NVIDIA released ‘Gippos Now’, which is a streaming game service that can be used with Nvidia shield devices such as shield portable, shield tablet, shield console, and others, and announced Zippos Now for PCs in 2017. And it has expanded its GeForce Now service to Android smartphones last year and is on a trial basis. Since last year, Microsoft has been conducting a pilot service of Project XCloud, which allows users to enjoy Xbox games on PCs and mobile devices. Such cloud services are set for formal service this year.

As it is a network-based service, mobile carriers are also interested in cloud game services. In particular, it is expected that 5G will build an infrastructure that can play cloud games in mobile network environments.

LG Uplus became the first Korean mobile carrier to enter the full-fledged cloud game market. LGU+ joined hands with NVIDIA to introduce its cloud game service called ‘GeForce Now’ in Korea in September last year. It had conducted a free trial service for its 5G customers until the end of last year and has been in service since this year by switching to a monthly fixed amount. SK Telecom signed an exclusive business operation partnership with Microsoft in Korea and has provided pilot services for SKT customers since October last year. KT joined hands with Taiwanese streaming solutions firm Ubitus to showcase its own streaming game platform.

Frostbite dream on cloud
Different companies have different calculation methods for cloud game services. Google is trying to change its approach to games through its data center and network capabilities. In particular, Google offers a game approach through YouTube. It provides a button so that you can enjoy the same game immediately while watching YouTube Creator play the game.

Microsoft is trying to apply its cloud strategy to the game business. It sees the world as a giant computer and is approaching cloud games as part of its efforts to expand its reach across all devices and services connected to the cloud based on artificial intelligence. In other words, it is expanding its existing console game console called Xbox to the cloud. Microsoft's strong point is that it has experience running a game platform called Xbox.

Mobile network providers are going to make tangible results on 5G services through cloud games. In the B2C area of consumers, access to cloud games is provided as a service that can show the benefits of 5G networks that are still difficult to detect. It is also worth noting that different telecommunication businesses have different business structures depending on their cooperative relationship.

LGU+ will focus on strengthening 5G services through its exclusive service contract in Korea. It is currently the first to make a fee and is providing additional services for 12,900 won per month (50 percent discount promotion through March). However, paid games must be purchased separately.

SKT has a relatively loose relationship with Microsoft. The XCloud will be open to all users of the nation’s three telecom companies. SKT says it will closely cooperate with Microsoft in terms of operations to spread its Xcloud services. No specific revenue model for the service has been disclosed yet.

Instead of cooperating with the giant platform, KT put more weight on building its own platform. Through this process, it introduced a subscription-type model that allows users to enjoy contents without any restriction for a certain fee, such as Netflix. KT is planning to release ‘5G Streaming Game’ in the form of additional paid service starting from March. It remains to be seen whether the latest console game will be serviced by choosing a subscription-type model. Unlike the music and video markets, subscription-type models have yet to be established in the game industry. In particular, it is because individual sales rather than subscriptions are favorable to companies, as the price of the latest games is nearly 60,000 won to 70,000 won, unlike music and videos.

Cloud games are still in the process of building a market. During the pilot service phase, which started last year, users seem to be in a hurry to meet their standards. Contrary to the companies' boast that they have resolved the delay issue, they were criticized for lacking in the taste of demanding users, who do not allow even a bit of delay. It remains to be seen whether a new platform market centered on the games will open this year amid frostbite dreams among operators surrounding cloud games.
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