With platforms such as Amazon Luna, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and PlayStation Plus all offering cloud screaming, more gamers than ever before are utilizing the technology on a variety of devices, and the industry is following in kind, with companies such as Amazon and Microsoft offering virtual workstations to developers.
This is due, in part, to Parsec, a cloud streaming service that allows users to access computers remotely. Although the company was first launched as a way for players to access their favourite games via the cloud, the platform was used by various companies within the games space to continue their work during the pandemic.
Cloud gaming, in theory, can allow players to play a game on a variety of devices. However, technical requirements and bandwidth restrictions can make this hard to achieve. Boxer, however, believes that the industry has infrastructure in place to make cloud streaming more accessible, however the cost of utilizing technology effectively can limit what’s possible.
Is this the future of gaming?
The solution, in Boxer’s opinion, is to incorporate the cloud into the final product more directly.
"I think games need to be designed around the idea that people are playing it from the cloud," said Boxer. "When game developers design around the medium [...] that's when you get the magic."
However, this is at odds with the current games ecosystem, where the cloud is most often used to stream existing titles designed with downloads or physical editions in mind.
Boxer notes that Candy Crush is an example of a game which was designed, first and foremost, to utilise specific technologies to the best of their abilities – in this case vertical screens and touch based inputs. Breath of the Wild, meanwhile, is singled out as an example of a game built from the ground up to take advantage of the full range of features on the relevant platform.
“If cloud game platforms are going to go mainstream, Boxer's thinking is that they'll need their own Breath of the Wild,” writes Gamedeveloper.com senior editor Bryant Francis.
Is the future of cloud gaming here? Well, not quite, but all it takes is one game that shows the full capabilities of the cloud to show developers what's possible.
Parsec was acquired by Unity in 2021. "I feel really great about how we're a part of that mission," says Boxer. "I feel like they're investing heavily in our business and our growth."