Hardware, Cloud, and the Edge – A Gaming Story

By Mr. Edge, 11/12/2018

Games, this is a story for you.

Staying up late on a Friday night or waking up early on a Saturday morning to play video games is a staple of life for most gamers. Turning on Xbox, PlayStation or whatever your console of choice, it’s almost guaranteed that it brought you excitement and anticipation that few other things in the world could. While those days may be in the past for some, others continue to game today (even professionally, but that is not what this piece is about) with expensive hardware to gain that extra advantage to become the best.

Today’s gamers need fast networks to compete. There is a simple formula – fast connections lead to better performance in the game. A fast connection may not make your performance better, but it allows users to use 100 percent of their skill. The converse statement is more powerful – slow connections lead to worse performance in the game. A slow connection makes user performance worse – resulting in users being unable to use 100 percent of their skill. Outside of sitting next to a Wi-Fi router, users are pushing the limits of their hardware for an advantage (or avoid a disadvantage).

Hardware like the Xbox and PlayStation are standard in the market, but users buying expensive gaming specific computers that provide an edge over other users still sticking with the standard seems to be the new trend.
Gaming computers can retail for $500, but can quickly rise up to $1500 or more, and that investment is one the largest problems with buying gaming computers.
Technology is rapidly evolving every year to the point where a $500 gaming computer may be pointless to buy because next year it will be sub-par. The risk of investing in a gaming computer that becomes sub-par technology is real, but the cloud could level the playing field and disrupt the market.

Google and Microsoft plan to do something about the gaming investment problem – and it revolves around the cloud. The cloud has been used for storing documents and databases, entertainment streaming, running businesses and websites, etc. Therefore, the question for gaming becomes why not use the cloud. Google’s cloud initiative is running in beta to play Assassins Creed Odyssey – Project Stream. At Alef, we were accepted into the beta program and it runs as expected with a few lagging issues since we share a Wi-Fi.

Microsoft’s initiative is called Project xCloud – they may have a larger opportunity to capture the market due to the Xbox being in-house. At Alef, we have not used Project xCloud, but we can imagine it provides a similar experience. While this piece is not about the potential strategies to capture a large market, it is a great topic that we implore you to contemplate.

Cloud gaming seems to unlock incredible possibilities, but we are overlooking a basic physics problem. The cloud has distance and speed problems – with cloud gaming and live multiplayer games, there will be issues with latency. Several things can be done to improve latency, but the distance problem will always exist. The data cannot go any faster to the cloud and come back than it already is. Outside of optimization, what can be done to solve this?

Edge gaming provides a unique opportunity to cut out the large distance data would have to travel to reach the cloud. Edge computing would allow the data to stay local to an area and ping back to the users to reduce the latency down to single digital milliseconds.
For example, in cloud gaming a user’s data is sent to the cloud across the country and pings back, while in edge gaming a user’s data is sent to the edge computing location in their hyper local area and pings back. The physics are just smarter.

Outside of the lower latency and high performance provided by edge gaming, edge rendering would allow mobile devices to have more complex and higher resolutions to be played. Edge rendering can turn your mobile device into another screen that does not require the large computations of main stream games to be done on your device.

Gaming is taking over the entertainment world. If you have not realized this fact, please look around. While cloud gaming may be in its early days, it is a proof point that providing computation outside of the device can be done. I hope the that cloud gaming is used as what it is, a proof point. Cloud gaming will always have physics problem – let’s turn to edge gaming to provide an experience users can compete in a live multiplayer environment.


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