How Cloud Computing Is Changing the Video Game Industry

September 30, 2010 Off By Hoofer
Grazed from ReadWriteWeb.  Author:  Audrey Watters.

According to the PC Games Digital Downloads Analyst Report, during the first six months of 2010, more video games were purchased online and downloaded digitally than were bought at retail stores.

This marks the first time that digital downloads comprised the majority of total PC game sales. And although retails sales still make up a greater share of dollar revenue, it was simply because games that come with a CD or DVD in a box sell for a higher price…

Overall, however, the combined sales of both digital and physical PC games were down 21%, with unit sales down 14% compared to the same time next year.

While some might see future of PC gaming in question, it’s clear that gaming itself is far from in decline, as an August study by Nielsen demonstrated, showing that 25% of our time online is spent gaming. That study also found that digital download sites like Steam continue to capture an increasing market share.

Gaming-as-a-Service

But even digital downloads face competition from browser-based and online-only gaming options. Cloud computing gaming platform OnLive launched in June, for example, and is just one of several platforms that offers video gameplay without having to download software or worry about hardware requirements.

And while access to Assassin’s Creed (for example) remains a draw for these platforms (for me, at least), the rise of social gaming too is changing not just the delivery method but the content of what counts as gaming.

And while companies like OnLive are promising an escape from hefty hardware requirements, it may be that this move, in turn, also liberates games (and game developers) from the requirements of intensive 3D graphics.