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Part 2: Fat Client Game Streaming or Cloud Gaming

Last week, I touched on Cloud Gaming and one approach, Thin Client Game Streaming. Today, I'd like to delve into Fat Client Game Streaming.

Fat Client Game Streaming is another popular method of game streaming that overcomes the challenges of reducing the time to play. Businesses like The Happy Cloud, Spoon, and BitRaider have been early implementers of this approach. This method takes an existing game and essentially creates a new version of the client that can be progressively delivered and installed. When you start to play a game, you don't need every library and component, only a small subset. Much of the software is typically not needed until you make decisions in the game that require additional libraries and components. This approach essentially creates a probability table of what component and libraries you need to start, and a tree of next likely resources. A new shell is created for the software to enable the game to start running with a subset of resources which are loaded based on the probability table.
This allows the gamer to start playing in just a few minutes.The probability table determines the typical starting point in the game for players, and downloads the rest of the library components in the background while the player begins play.

The advantage to this model is that start up times are typically just a few minutes to begin play. After a player authenticates and selects a game, they do not need to wait to download and install the entire game.

Another advantage to this model is that it still allows for offline game play after the initial install is complete while playing. The thin client model does not allow offline gameplay, since a server in the cloud is doing the computations and rendering.

The other major advantage to this model is it does not require the developer to create a separate version of the game. This method involves taking existing gaming code and running it through a set of tools to create the new package that can be streamed. This process can take the course of a few hours to a hundred hours per game.  


The final major advantage of the model is that the game is delivered once and then run locally, so that there no incremental operational costs for certain use cases like heavy gamers, playing on HDTVs, and playing more complex games.  

The major disadvantage to this model is that it does not simplify the porting of games across multiple connected devices, and some games will simply not run on certain devices because of the lack of necessary processing, GPU, or memory. Software code still needs to be ported across devices, and the device environments are still highly fragmented between the consoles, Macs, PCs, iOS, the different flavors of Android, and all the different Smart TV platforms. From a business model perspective, model developers cannot justify or afford porting their game to every environment, so they need to choose which device environments to launch in, and which to potentially expand to over time.

A Hybrid World for Game Streaming and Cloud Gaming

Based on all this, it is likely that we will evolve into a hybrid world where a combination of fat and thin client game streaming could deliver the best combination of gaming experience for the user across devices, grow the market by allowing people to try more games more easily, and blend the benefits of both models from a technical and business perspective.

If you would like to learn more or discuss this topic, please reach out me.

Kris Alexander is Chief Strategist, Connected Devices and Gaming, at Akamai.

2 Comments

The reality of streaming is here, everyone has their own taste, however there is no true streaming cable style service as of yet, something where we can tune in to new or older products.

Great Blog...!!! Streaming is the best way to explain anything on the internet. You can watch and listen anything in your devices.

Streaming

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