Would You Buy Or Upgrade A Console Or PC If You Could Stream Everything?

There's been a lot of work on cloud gaming services, much of which has started to come to the fore this year. Ubisoft's been quite vocal, EA just announced a massive project of their own, Xbox is trialling their own tech in-house and Google's streaming venture was unveiled recently too.

All of these aren't solutions predominately focused on Australians, though. There are plenty with spotty connections or substandard NBN/ADSL, to be sure. But in time, the logic goes, those substandard connections will eventually improve. Which leads me to a question.

Say you have a banging internet connection. Maybe you've just moved into a new house with 250/100 fibre, or you've somehow smuggled your gigabit connection over from Singapore. Or maybe your boss lets you sleep in the office to nick their 400mbps line while no-one's looking.

Either way, you're internet is fine. More than fine. 100GB downloads are a mere annoyance. You'd rather stream Star Citizen via a download than off your hard drive because it's probably faster that way. Everything is fine.

Under this scenario, would you still want dedicated gaming hardware?

As much fun as upgrading is, it's also a process that a lot of gamers really don't want to do. Gaming is expensive these days, far, far more so than it ever used to be.

If you're older, you might even remember the times when "gaming" was more of a no-frills tag. Good bang for buck. Affordable. Now gaming is tantamount to a premium.

But I digress.

As more publishers and companies like Google look at ways to reduce hardware requirements through internet connections, streaming services will become increasingly common. You can probably expect subscription models to go hand in hand with that - it makes total sense for Microsoft and Sony especially, but also companies like NVIDIA that will have more difficulty selling $1000-plus graphics cards in developing countries.

In that lens, Australians are fine. Cloud gaming will still have tons of issues - compression, latency, consistent bandwidth - that will make it largely irrelevant over the next couple of years here.

But in five, maybe ten years time. You're looking at the PS6 or the Xbox One XXX or whatever that ends up being called. You've just spent $600 or so buying hardware on the last console generation. Maybe you have a Switch as well. And a gaming PC that's a little long in the tooth.

Would you go through the upgrade cycle all over again?

Personally, I probably would. I still like having the hardware around and the productivity is essential. But if the cloud service was consistent enough, it would affect how much I invest in multiple platforms: I might only upgrade my PC or buy the latest version of the Switch, but I wouldn't want a PlayStation and an Xbox. And if the subscription offering was flexible enough, I'd probably only invest in the latter two on a month-to-month basis if there was an especially enticing exclusive.

But what about yourselves?


    Seems a bit of a pointless question. I doubt anybody would invest in their own hardware like that if we all had an absolutely ironclad guaranteed 100% available, huge bandwidth, zero latency internet connection. But we're don't, and we won't be getting one, especially in this country.

    If pizza rained from the sky every couple of days then I'd never buy another pizza again, either.

      You'd eat pizza off the ground?

        I would catch the pizza before it hit the ground.

          What if it rained pizza while you were asleep or at work?

            Well that's why you build a special pizza catching water-tank style construction.

            Asleep, I would just wait until the next time it rained pizza. Or perhaps have a pizza tank in my back yard to catch the pizza for later consumption.

            At work I would leave my desk and run out into the street and dance in the raining pizza like in a Hollywood musical.

              Fair enough, do you think youd ever get sick and tired of pizza? does the pizza come down hot already or do you have to cook it?

                If I get sick of pizza, I don't have to keep eating it, and I know there would always be pizza easily available should I feel the need.

                I actually worked in a pizza shop for about 5 years in my younger days and never got sick of pizza. There's always a different pizza to try.

      You'd eat whatever pizza you were given, giving up your freedom of choice?

        I am assuming there would be a variety of different kinds of pizza falling from the sky. I would eat only those that were pleasing to me.

      I bet the pizza would always land toppings down :(

      It’s a fun thought exercise. Much like wondering how you personally would navigate an altered-carbon-style world and manage, retain, or adapt your identity in effective immortality.

      It’s also equally as unlikely as high-end Australian cloud-processed gaming.

    This is a tough one. The whole point of having console is to have seamless experience without interruption and streaming games does not provide that given the internet is never stable, that means you will get some delayed response from time to time and stutter due to network hiccup.

    Even if streaming is the future, proprietary hardware will still be required for the streaming "technology" that will be involved. Different companies having their own hardware to support their streaming technology so you will still have PSXXXXX and XBOX XXXXX in your home.

    I've worked in a few offices that have an almost entirely online infrastructure and when the network drops, productivity more or less ceases until it comes back up. Only those who have the necessary tools available locally are the ones able to work. Similarly, I wouldn't want a streaming only set up for my gaming either, it's just not practical.

    I always have to laugh at the whole push for Cloud computing though. It's just a little bit of history repeating as we head back to the days of mainframes and thin clients.

    I live in Australia, mate. No streaming games for me!

    Oh yes, the great promise of the "cloud". My (stupid) workplace moved all document management etc to the fabled (stupid) cloud. It's shit. It's worse than shit. It made even simple tasks a nightmare. It's sluggish and unresponsive. We're talking about 29kb files here.
    With CPU's and GPU's being so cheap and so powerful why the f*ck would we want to move those processes to the cloud? I really don't get it. What problem are we trying to solve by doing this?

      Solving the problem of Microsoft et al not having enough money.

    even with enough bandwidth and enough downloads you cant get around the fact that it would add input lag to your controls.

    It might be acceptable on a slow paced game but anything fast paced it would be pretty horrible

    Since it's impossible to circumvent the speed of light, at a certain point your internet speed/stability will start becoming less relevant than your proximity to the data centre. Even if you're in the same city I doubt you'll easily get a <10ms ping and would suffer severe input lag as a result.

    So no, I'm going to keep upgrading my PC into the foreseeable future as input lag pisses me off immensely.

    I'd still buy consoles because I make bad financial decisions when it comes to video games.

      I'd say thats a good financial decision. My PS4 cost $500 and is on tack to last 7 years. That's only $6 per month!

    I'd rather have the hardware in my house and stream to various fixed and mobile screens over my own network.

    If its the exact same experience with no noticeable latency, sure.

    For me, it depends on the experience. Consoles and PC's do more than game, so people are still going to want to do those other things. Gaming, Netflix, YouTube, word and excel, email... The list goes on.

    Theres still going to be an interface for those where most aren't relying on graphical power, and most will prefer the status quo, which is a physical box. Undoing that isn't going to be easy.

      It could just be an app on a smart TV or Chromecast. Pair a controller and away you go.

      It would be the final nail in the coffin of game ownership, though, and I'm not really ok with that.

    My two biggest fear with streaming gaming is
    a) subscription model for every game (what? suddenly I am up for $200 a month to keep 40 games active that I may want to play?)
    b) game being turned off and unavailable at the whim of the streaming server provider (what? not enough players according to you so you are turning the game off forever?)

    Streaming is just another way for us as gamers to give up our rights to owning it. Plus, modding would basically be murdered. Not to mention the internet shittery and a whole host of other factors.

    Streaming games sounds great on paper, but its not realistic, not in Australia at least.

    In Australia we can't even trust the banks and your asking if we should trust EA and Ubisoft with streaming services......nope

    It's such a hard thing to judge. Taking evil terms, latency issues, etc out of it I'd need convincing. Going all in on digital games was like that. I didn't do it on consoles until late last gen because it just wasn't giving me anything more than discs did. Once that changed I made the switch and haven't looked back.

    Hypothetically, if they could solve all the latency issues and it worked seamlessly, then yeah - I'd probably stop having expensive boxes and play on whatever I liked. That sounds pretty good.

    But that hypothetical is a long way off from reality, so I'll keep my PC and console. I really like the idea of streaming games, because I'd love to have all my games platform agnostic and just play on whatever device I like. I can sort of manage that with Steam (with some massive problems - depending on the game) and it's pretty neat. I'd like to get rid of the expensive PC and less expensive but sometimes redundant console. But I can't see them figuring it out for a while yet, and even once they get it working acceptably, you'll still get a better experience playing things locally for a long time yet.

    over the next couple of years here.

    It's cute to assume things will be any better in two years. Hell, in two years they will be just finishing the installation of the last NBN spots. After that, who knows how many years until they even start thinking about another "improvement".

    Should have had the option "Yes, Because Australian internet is shit and streaming is impossible"

    Considering these streaming services will want to make a profit, I imagine the services would come at a premium cost and would only gain you access to what that service has to offer, thus requiring you to possibly having multiple game streaming services.

    I can see how it would be useful to some but I don't think consoles and gaming PCs are going away.

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