Home / Technology / News /  Pricing key to cloud gaming

NEW DELHI : The shutdown of Google Stadia last week has cast a shadow on the advent of cloud gaming, which has been pushed by Indian telcos as a key use-case of the just launched 5G networks. The tech giant announced plans to shutter its cloud gaming service last week, noting that it “hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected".

All three of India’s top telcos —Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi)—have been showcasing cloud gaming at their booths at the Indian Mobile Congress (IMC) 2022, the same event where Prime Minister Modi announced the launch of 5G services in India. Vi even showed a cloud gaming demo in partnership with French firm CareGame.

However, experts say the rollout of 5G networks is only a piece of the puzzle for this next generation of gaming.

Cloud gaming, or cloud-based game streaming, uses internet connectivity to connect a user to a remote server. Instead of owning expensive gaming hardware, users can tap into these remotely hosted gaming rigs and stream a game to either smartphones or laptops. It negates the need to spend on expensive consoles or PCs required for high-end games.

Justin Shriram Keeling, founding general partner at gaming venture capital fund Lumikai, said as a “frontier market", cloud gaming’s potential will remain niche “for the foreseeable future".

“Even with a cheap cost of data, I do not see cloud gaming replacing mobile game downloads," Keeling said. He added that one of the reasons why Stadia may have failed is due to its pricing model —that of charging a subscription fee for accessing the platform, as well as a full price tag for whichever game a user wanted to play.

As a result, Keeling said that as a service, Stadia just did not stack up even in the international markets, which are more mature in paying for subscription models than India. Google never launched Stadia in India.

Pricing, according to stakeholders, could play a major role alongside connectivity to push adoption of cloud gaming in India. Akshat Rathee, co-founder and managing director of homegrown gaming firm Nodwin Gaming, said the gaming industry must help the telecom sector “build utilities" around 5G, of which cloud gaming could play its part.


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