Question from Cecille: My son is wanting a gaming computer for his birthday. The one he has been looking at is over $900.
I mentioned this to my friend and she suggested that I look into something called Cloud Gaming that lets the person play games without having to buy an expensive gaming computer.
What exactly is Cloud Gaming, and how does it work?
Rick’s answer: As your friend alluded to Cecille, cloud gaming is a relatively new alternative to playing games on a local gaming computer.
With a cloud gaming setup the games actually run on a remote computer/server somewhere on the Internet instead of on your local machine.
The remote server runs the game on its own hardware and then streams video of the gameplay back to your local device.
From the user’s perspective it appears that the game is running locally, but what you’re seeing on the screen is simply a video stream that was created and sent by the remote server.
You interact with the game using your local device, which then transmits the action taken to the remote server. The server then applies the interactions you sent it to the game and then sends the results back to your machine as an update to the video stream.
In a nutshell, you use your local device to control a game that’s actually playing on a remote computer that’s located somewhere out in the vast world of the Internet.
The advantage of cloud gaming is it eliminates the need to purchase a gaming computer, which can be quite expensive, as you have discovered.
Cloud gaming allows many popular games to work just fine with older (and slower) computer hardware and decent-quality mobile devices.
However, the above being said, cloud gaming has its disadvantages as well:
1 – Monthly fees
Unlike the one-time purchases of a gaming PC and the games you’ll install on it, cloud gaming requires paying monthly fees that can eventually add up to more than what you’d pay for a gaming PC in the first place.
2 – Game purchases
Even with the monthly fees some cloud gaming services require you to purchase the games you want to play even though they will actually be running on their remote servers. And of course that just adds to the overall cost of the overall cloud gaming experience.
3 – Internet requirements
You’ll need a fast, and super reliable broadband Internet connection in order to fully enjoy an acceptable cloud gaming experience.
If your connection is glitchy or suffers from frequent periods of heavy traffic (caused by lots of simultaneous users) the gameplay will be jerky and unreliable.
And of course you won’t be able to play any games at all when your Internet connection is down.
As you can see, while cloud gaming is indeed an option to purchasing an expensive gaming computer, it won’t necessarily be cheaper in the long run.
It could actually turn out to be more expensive over time, depending on which games your son wants to play and the other factors mentioned above.
Bottom line: What you’ll need to do is check out the various cloud gaming services and compare their total costs against the up-front expense of buying a gaming PC.
You’ll need to factor in any extra expenses required in regards to the purchase or rental of the various games your son will want to play, as well as the extra costs incurred should you need to upgrade your Internet service.
To get you started, here are a few popular cloud gaming services that you can check into:
There are many other cloud gaming services as well, both in actual operation and various stages of planning and development.
I hope this helps, Cecille. Good luck!