On Monday, Sony Computer Entertainment acquired cloud-based game streaming company Gaikai for around $380 million in a move that is sure to excite fans of the company’s PlayStation devices. If the Japanese company uses its purchase to create a compelling alternative to OnLive, it has the potential to gain a huge advantage over rivals like Microsoft and Nintendo.
The same service could provide an even bigger advantage to Apple. In fact, there are a number of reasons why the Cupertino company should use its ever-increasing cash pile to make Mac and iOS gaming even greater.
Firstly, it already has the devices: The iPhone, the iPad, the iPod touch, Macs, and even the Apple TV are all devices that are perfect for taking advantage of a cloud-based game streaming service
iOS devices are perfect for taking advantage of a cloud-based game streaming service.
iOS devices have already proven themselves as incredibly popular gaming devices, and they’re already stealing chunks of market share from handheld consoles like the PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo 3DS. Furthermore, the success of titles like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Temple Run are proof that we love to play games on our smartphones and tablets.
As for the Apple TV, we’ve been waiting for Apple to introduce apps and games to its set-top box since it opened the doors to the App Store. And of course, Game streaming services are famous for their ability to deliver high-quality games to devices with mediocre specifications, and so the Apple TV’s A5 processor means no internal improvements would be necessary. Even its 8GB of storage is plenty, because nothing needs to be saved locally.
The only thing Apple may need to add is a controller, but for a lot of games, we could use our iOS devices for control.
Apple is already pushing us to live in the cloud. iCloud, with features like iTunes Match and cloud-based backup, is proof of that. And there’s a good reason for this: As the Cupertino company strives to make devices cheaper, smaller, and lighter, one of the big hits will be to storage.
As Apple strives to make devices cheaper, smaller, and lighter, one of the big hits will be to storage.
We’ve already seen this with the MacBook Air — a fully-fledged notebook computer that can be purchased with just 64GB of storage. And the iPhone 4, which is now available with just 8GB of storage.
But titles like FIFA 12 and Infinity Blade II take up more than 1GB of storage on our iOS devices, and that’s a problem if you only have 8GB to begin with. What’s more, most of us only play these games for short periods of time, and no one really wants them stuck on their device all of the time eating up their space.
By moving our games to the cloud, we’ll be saving all that storage. You can remove big games safe in the knowledge that they’ll be there for you to stream whenever you want them — just like the rest of your library.
The other advantage to this is that we can wave goodbye to those hefty updates. Every time we update an app, we don’t just download a “patch” or “fix” — we have to download the entire package each time. But with game streaming, our games will be updated automatically in the cloud ready to stream to our devices.
Of course, you’ll still have the ability to store chosen games locally, for those times when you don’t have access to a speedy broadband connection.
With game streaming, it wouldn’t matter which device you’re using; you would simply pick up right where you left off the last time you closed your game.
Right now, one of the biggest problems for iOS gamers is the lack of syncing between devices. That means you must complete the same levels, missions, or achievements on your iPhone after you’ve completed them on your iPad. There are already ways around this, but not nearly enough developers are taking advantage of them.
With game streaming, it wouldn’t matter which device you’re using; you would simply pick up right where you left off the last time you closed your game. It couldn’t be more seamless.
Apple wouldn’t need to make any changes to its existing price model whatsoever. We’ll pay the same amount we currently do for Mac and iOS games, only we choose whether to store them locally or stream them from the cloud.
The only difference would be a small annual fee — like the $25 we pay for iTunes Match — for our share of cloud-based storage.
A service like this is one way of making Apple’s impact on the games industry even greater.
So there are a number of reasons why it would be incredibly easy — and incredibly beneficial — for Apple to kickstart a cloud-based game-streaming service of its own. The company has already had a huge impact on the gaming industry with its iOS devices, and a service like this is one way of making that impact even greater.
Would you like to see a game streaming service from Apple?