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Cloud Gaming - Why it's a publisher issue

Greed and fear fuel this industry

By Giorgi MikhelidzePublished 3 years ago 4 min read

Innovations in technology start out as minor ripples that quickly turn into massive waves. Ultimately, they spill over into all sorts of different industries and improve them to an unimaginable extent.

Among other things, this is true for cloud gaming as well. All of those avid gamers that are finally able to play their favorite games with super-rich graphics have to thank the initial ripple that began with music streaming services.

To put it as simply as possible, streaming specific content over the internet is an achievement that brought millions of people into the entertainment consumption industry. Before that, they had to physically buy music and movies and play them back in media players, which may hold a certain nostalgia these days but when it comes to convenience, it was a pain in the butt.

From powerhouse computers to data centers

That’s how we come to game streaming. Today, we have cloud gaming platforms like Geforce Now and Google Stadia that allow us to stream a bunch of popular games without ever owning a powerhouse computer, however, this technology hasn’t even been around for 5 years.

Before all this, we had to own either a gaming console or a gaming PC to play demanding games like the Witcher III and Red Dead Redemption II. And since that would prove extremely costly to the majority of people, not a lot of us were able to play the games we love.

Fortunately, gaming-related companies like Nvidia were also concerned about this issue and decided to do something about it. They came up with an idea to let gamers play their favorite games by utilizing the power of their various data centers around the world.

So, basically what we’re doing when streaming a game is we ask the platform to run a game in a data center while we run commands from our home. It’s like watching Netflix or YouTube with one difference that we control the content that’s being streamed.

The lack of content

With that being said, not everything is as dreamy as it sounds. While the logistics are pretty refined to this point, there’s one significant issue that prevents us from playing all of our favorite games, whether they’re triple-A or not: not all of them are supported by the streaming platforms.

For example, Nvidia Geforce Now, which has by far the largest game collection on the market, still lacks a huge number of AAA titles like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Grand Theft Auto, and many more. But to their credit, they do feature many blockbuster titles such as the above-mentioned Witcher III, Assassin’s Creed franchise, and Bannerlord.

Stupidity and greed of game publishers

You see, services like Geforce Now and Stadia cannot be blamed for the fact that there are tons of video games missing from their platforms, even though that would be a logical thing to assume. Instead, you need to turn to game publishers and their inability to see potential in this new prospect.

A couple of months ago, before Nvidia enacted a new rule of only supporting games that were specifically enlisted by their publishers, you could see a bunch of famous games being removed from the platform. That’s because their publishers would ask Nvidia to take them down.

At some point, Nvidia realized that its game collection needed some level of certainty and that the publishers’ sporadic requests had to end as soon as possible. Therefore, it announced that the only way games would remain in its collection would be if the publishers had explicitly requested to be featured in it. Otherwise, it would remove all non-enlisted games, which it did.

But why are publishers doing this? What interest do they have to remove their product from a platform that increases their consumption rate quite significantly? I don’t think there’s just greed to be blamed, simply because if they were actually greedy, they’d be first to jump to the opportunity right off the bat and reap as much money as possible from an increased consumer base.

I think the reason why these publishers aren’t willing to let streaming platforms promote their games is that they are shortsighted to see the potential here. They fail to realize that not only are they going to maintain the current sale levels but they’re going to get much more increased revenues.

As noted earlier, there’s a huge influx of people who are just joining the gaming community because they now have the means to play video games. Before, the only way they could do that was to buy expensive equipment, which was out of the question for them.

Therefore, an increased consumer base means that more and more people are going to be able to buy games. This, in turn, means more revenue for game publishers. But those that “lock away” their products and not let streaming services promote them will stay out of this evolution, simply because they were too stupid to seize the opportunity.

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