Is 2021 Cloud Gaming’s Breakout Year? Moves from Microsoft, Google, Netflix Say Yes

by Paul Erickson | Aug. 24, 2021

Cloud gaming, the streaming of cloud-hosted games over the internet, is an idea that is not new, but has yet to really gain mainstream traction. In years past, there were any number of showstopper issues that compromised the experience for consumers, from developer support to performance lag to platform support, content availability and more. There are clear signs that 2021 is a watershed year for the growing momentum behind cloud gaming – and these moves are coming from titans in the technology and streaming entertainment landscape.

Recently, Microsoft made the beta of its Xbox Cloud Gaming available within the Windows 10 and Windows 11 Xbox app for its Windows Insiders. When publicly released in October 2021, Windows 11 will natively incorporate access to Xbox Cloud Gaming through Windows’ preinstalled Xbox app. Formerly, Xbox Cloud Gaming (via the requisite $14.99/month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription) was playable on Windows but via browser only.

The integration of cloud gaming capabilities into the popular Windows operating system is a clear commitment by Microsoft, and an indication of how quickly cloud gaming access will become a ubiquitous, staple feature of the Windows experience. Along with Google’s Stadia now coming pre-installed on all new Chromebooks, the world’s two most-popular desktop and laptop operating systems will have native, preinstalled access to cloud gaming services by Q4 2021.

Other moves to build cloud gaming’s momentum this year include:

Between Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Netflix - the world’s three largest cloud infrastructure providers and the world’s most popular cloud-based streaming entertainment service – it is clear that major stakeholders in the online ecosystem are now invested in gaming and pushing forward. These players’ committed moves this year are a clear sign that many of the moving pieces required for cloud gaming’s success have finally begun to come together.

Recent Q1 2021 data from Parks Associates’ Quantified Consumer report, Next Generation Gaming – Consoles and Cloud, indicates that there is considerable potential to be tapped. Consumer interest in cloud gaming is durable even as monthly price increases, with 23% of US broadband households indicating they were likely to subscribe to a cloud gaming service even at $14.99/month.

While gaming subscription services are popular with gaming console owners, the coming era in gaming will include cloud gaming services – and these services will complement more than compete with PC and console gaming. Cloud gaming now finally possesses the market conditions to build lasting momentum, and will enable a future where access to high-quality gaming is democratized across a variety of connected device platforms in and out of the home.

For more information about Parks Associates research, visit http://www.parksassociates.comor call 972-490-1113.

Tags: gaming, smart TV

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