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?