Steam Play thoughts: A Valve game streaming service

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With the talk of some big players moving into cloud gaming, along with a number of people thinking Valve will also be doing it, here’s a few thoughts from me.

Firstly, for those that didn’t know already, Google are testing the waters with their own cloud gaming service called Project Stream. For this, they teamed up with Ubisoft to offer Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on the service. I actually had numerous emails about this, from a bunch of Linux gamers who managed to try it out and apparently it worked quite well on Linux.

EA are pushing pretty heavily with this too with what they’re calling Project Atlas, as their Chief Technology Officer talked about in a Medium post on how they’ve got one thousand EA employees now working on it. That sounds incredibly serious to me!

There’s more cloud services offering hardware for a subscription all the time, although a lot of them are quite expensive and use Windows.

So this does beg the question: What is Valve going to do? Cloud gaming services, that will allow people with lower-end devices to play a bunch of AAA games relatively easily could end up cutting into Valve’s wallet.

Enter Valve’s Cloud Gaming Service

Pure speculation of course, but with the amount of big players now moving into the market, I’m sure Valve will be researching it themselves. Perhaps this is what Steam Play is actually progressing towards? With Steam Play, Valve will be able to give users access to a large library of games running on Linux where they don’t have to pay extra fees for any sort of Windows licensing fee from Microsoft and obviously being Linux it would allow them to heavily customise it to their liking.

On top of that, what about the improvements this could further bring for native desktop Linux gaming? Stop and think about it for a moment, how can Valve tell developers they will get the best experience on this cloud gaming platform? Have a native Linux version they support with updates and fixes. Valve are already suggesting developers to use Vulkan, it’s not such a stretch I think.

Think about how many games, even single-player games are connected to the net now in some way with various features. Looking to the future, having it so your games can be accessed from any device with the content stored in the cloud somewhere does seem like the way things are heading. As much as some (including me) aren’t sold on the idea, clearly this is where a lot of major players are heading and Valve won’t want to be left behind.

For Valve, it might not even need to be a subscription service, since they already host the data for the developers. Perhaps, you buy a game and get access to both a desktop and cloud copy? That would be a very interesting and tempting idea. Might not be feasible of course, since the upkeep on the cloud machines might require a subscription if Valve wanted to keep healthy profits, but it’s another way they could possibly trump the already heavy competition.

Think the whole idea is incredibly farfetched? Fair enough, I do a little too. However, they might already have a good amount of the legwork done on this, thanks to their efforts with the Steam Link. Did anyone think a year or two ago you would be able to stream Steam games to your phone and tablet?

Valve also offer movies, TV series and more on Steam so they have quite a lot to offer.

It might not happen at all of course, these are just some basic thoughts of mine on what Valve’s moves might be in future. It's likely not going to happen for VR titles, since they need so much power and any upset with latency could make people quite sick. Highly competitive games would also be difficult, but as always once it gets going the technology behind it will constantly improve like everything. There’s got to be some sort of end game for all their Linux gaming work and not just to help us, they are a business and they will keep moving along with all the other major players.

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TheSHEEEP 1 Nov, 2018
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Well, I can see this work for some games, but with others that require some very precise input and reactions, it will never work.

For those who don't want to spend the money on a proper PC, this would certainly be a solution.

On the other hand, some countries are already struggling to give their citizens proper internet - something like this will make it even harder (heavy bandwidth requirements no doubt).
tmtvl 1 Nov, 2018
Game streaming will never be worthwhile, the video compression just ruins everything.
Lomkey 1 Nov, 2018
As for myself I don't see cloud gaming going take off so well. People internet not up to code or so many with a limit cap does not make cloud gaming to much a go as right now.
schidin 1 Nov, 2018
I think cloud gaming is the future. I would like to just have a small, passive cooled thin Client running Linux at home and stream AAA title through the Internet. This is ecologically much more desirable for me.
razing32 1 Nov, 2018
While I like the idea of streaming Windows games form inside a Linux PC it would hurt the linux market and devs would stop porting and just tell people to stream it.
Honestly , if games move to Streaming as a model it's end of the line.
A lot of old games get harder to run on news OSes , then you have things like online activation servers or play servers , but you could work around those if fans make a back engineered server.
If we move full on to streaming games will only exist in the ether as a brief thing for a few years before a company shuts them down completely and permanently.
stan 1 Nov, 2018
This is just shit.
Liam Dawe 1 Nov, 2018
Quoting: stanThis is just shit.
Solid feedback, thanks.
stretch611 1 Nov, 2018
Quoting: LomkeyAs for myself I don't see cloud gaming going take off so well. People internet not up to code or so many with a limit cap does not make cloud gaming to much a go as right now.

Exactly, even if you have a internet connection capable of streaming 1080p content at 60fps, it would very quickly fall victim to download caps.
cdnr1 1 Nov, 2018
Nope don't like it

Last edited by cdnr1 on 1 November 2018 at 2:54 pm UTC
stretch611 1 Nov, 2018
QuoteThink about how many games, even single-player games are connected to the net now in some way with various features.

The problem with this in the past is quite evident... and one of the major companies involved in the new cloud effort (EA) was the worst offender.

Other than possibly a high score board, what features are actually wanted from the internet?

There are racing and FPS games that have been known to contact the internet in order to download new billboard graphics regularly. Of course these are used to sell in game advertising... ok if a title is free to play, but it has been used in purchased games.

We all know of the hundreds of games that require "activation servers" in order to check the licenses while playing. But the reality is that people that pirate games apply a patch to remove the activation code, while the people that are legitimate users are screwed when they have internet connection issues and can't play the game they want to legally use. In addition, if the company decides to turn off activation servers, there is nothing you can do (other than get the pirated version.) There have been titles that EA in particular has turned off one year after a release leaving a player unable to play... (usually after a sequel is released.) In some cases people buying old titles from "bargain bins" are unable to play the game due to buying after the servers were taken down.

And lets just say that the less said about the remake of Simcity) the better. It "required" constant internet access from even the single player content. The game servers were overloaded at launch making it a horrible experience. It was later revealed that the online requirement was a forced requirement having no actual bearing on playing the game. (Thanks EA!!)
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