Following on from my previous posts on Valve's announcements surrounding their vision to bring PC gaming to the lounge room, the idea of streaming games online over an internet connection or locally within the home between PCs, consoles, and hand-helds was raised again. This is a trend that is gaining a great deal of momentum, and looks to take its place in current and future gaming.
There are two main players in the online "cloud gaming" arena - Gaikai and OnLive.
Gaikai is a cloud gaming service that allows users to play PC and console video games rendered on remote servers via internet streaming. They were acquired by Sony last year, and have since announced that PlayStation, PS2, and PS3 titles would be made available for Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 console via a new cloud gaming service, and they will also be developing the next generation of Remote Play, which streams games from the PS3 and PS4 to the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation Portable.
Cloud gaming provider OnLive provides game streaming over the internet. From their website - "The OnLive Game Service is a ground breaking on-demand video game platform capable of delivering the latest and most advanced games instantly over a broadband connection.". For $10 a month, you get access to over 300 games that you can play on your computer or tablet. At this time, it is only available in the US, UK, and Belgium.
Nintendo have their own version of game streaming called Off-TV Play. The Wii U's controller, the Wii U GamePad, has its own built-in screen, which can duplicate the TV screen display, or display an entirely different image from what is being show on the TV. Off-TV Play lets you play console games on the Wii U GamePad screen completely independent of the TV, meaning one person can be watching a TV show whilst the other streams a game from the Wii U onto the Wii U GamePad.
Earlier this year, PC graphics card manufacturer Nvidia created their own hand-held game console, called the Nvidia Shield. It runs on Android, and has a flip up five inch touchscreen, and a built-in controller. Through Nvidia's GameStream software suite, the Shield allows the streaming of games running on a desktop PC equipped with an Nvidia GTX 650 or higher video card. It also has Console Mode, which allows it to be connected to a TV and controlled with a Bluetooth controller.
These streaming services, along with Valves SteamOS, will continue to bring about new ways in which games can be played, and where they can be played, giving gamers even more choice when it comes to playing their favourite games.