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Looks like Valve could be set to launch something called Steam Cloud Gaming

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We have Google Stadia (soon), PlayStation Now, Xbox Game Streaming, EA's Project Atlas is coming and more but what about Valve with Steam? Well, sounds like Steam Cloud Gaming is coming.

For those who don't remember or perhaps aren't regular readers, I actually wrote an article back in November 2018 describing how I thought Valve would launch such a service. Well, there's more pointing towards me being right in some way about that.

SteamDB put out a Twitter post today, showing off a code update to the partner site, with new terms developers need to sign which talks about Steam Cloud Gaming.

Everything Valve has been doing over the last few years would add up quite nicely to this. Valve worked on the Steam Link hardware to stream around the home, moving onto the Steam Link application to expand it further to mobile devices, In-Home Streaming was re-branded to Remote Play and started allowing you to stream from your PC to any other outside the home and just recently, Remote Play Together to let you host a local co-op/multiplayer game for others across the world to join in as if they were sat next to you.

The next logical step? Certainly seems like a full streaming service would fit in with where they're going with all this. Now we think about Steam Play Proton, Valve's attempt to get Windows-only games to work and perform well on Linux. If Steam Cloud Gaming turns out to be something you stream from Valve, it's safe to assume it would be from Linux-powered servers so Steam Play would fit in there.

With all these new streaming services coming, Valve did need to do something extra to stay competitive if this is where gaming is going. Like it or not, they're already here and a lot of people already use them. The more that do, the less likely people are to get games from Steam.

This is all speculation though of course, nothing is yet confirmed. For all we know, whatever this Steam Cloud Gaming bit is that developers need to sign could just be the umbrella branding for all of Valve's current and future streaming stuff and not necessarily a brand new thing.

What are you thoughts? What exactly will Steam Cloud Gaming be? Let us know in the comments.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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58 comments
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Arten 8 November 2019 at 6:34 am UTC
peta77
Arten
peta77I don't like streaming stuff, requires a very good internet connection and I don't want to have screen resolution in the game restricted by any server. Also for single player games it doesn't make any sense to make an online connection a mandatory to be able to play. So I hope there's no upcoming titles which are exclusively available through cloud gaming. Would significantly throw back desktop gaming.

From Stadia, yes, google plan this. But from steam, i think and hope, they don't planing de jure exclusivity for cloud, but is there posibility for de facto time limited cloud exlusivity, because they can use better CPU, more cores,... and then nobody without today threadriper can play it localy, but in some time, it can be posible.
The only thing that would make sense regarding hardware capacity would real-time-raytracing, like that old remote-rendering i.e. SGI did long ago, where your render CPUs/GPUs would be somewhere in the basement and bigger than your appartment. But other than that, for gamers with high-end hardware it would just be a giant step back. I understand that such things are good for tablet or smartphone gaming, but not for the desktop. I don't want to go back to dumb terminals that rely on tons of external hardware and a hyper reliable high bandwith network. I'm pretty happy with having a "supercomputer" under my desk, even if it costs a bit more.

I don’t think so. You thinking only on graphics, but there is more. Your high-end gaming rig can have bottle neck on RAM, CPU or both. There are games with coplex physical simulation, like kerbal space program, where more compute power can be great benefit for developers and players. In KSP, you have physical time warp with all physic calculated and High-speed time warp, which stops all physical calculation except gravity and collisions. With epyc CPU with enaught cores (and multithread physical engine) you can have Physical time warp for higher warp. Yes, if you have high-end PC, but you can buy Epyc/threadripper with 128GB RAM or more and use it at home for gaming and call it gaming high-end...
Eike 8 November 2019 at 9:21 am UTC
peta77The only thing that would make sense regarding hardware capacity would real-time-raytracing, like that old remote-rendering i.e. SGI did long ago, where your render CPUs/GPUs would be somewhere in the basement and bigger than your appartment. But other than that, for gamers with high-end hardware it would just be a giant step back. I understand that such things are good for tablet or smartphone gaming, but not for the desktop. I don't want to go back to dumb terminals that rely on tons of external hardware and a hyper reliable high bandwith network. I'm pretty happy with having a "supercomputer" under my desk, even if it costs a bit more.

It's not targeted at gamers with high-end hardware. In the end, it might even be unreasonable from a financial standpoint to keep buying hardware for a thousand bucks every some years instead of "renting" the computing power. (I'll probably still do it, but that doesn't mean it's reasonable.)
chr 8 November 2019 at 1:09 pm UTC
Sorry didn't read all the comments before posting this time, but I simply wanted to express appreciation for the aesthetic of this article's image. Steam logo + that cloud. /clap
MayeulC 9 November 2019 at 2:12 pm UTC
Eike
peta77The only thing that would make sense regarding hardware capacity would real-time-raytracing, like that old remote-rendering i.e. SGI did long ago, where your render CPUs/GPUs would be somewhere in the basement and bigger than your appartment. But other than that, for gamers with high-end hardware it would just be a giant step back. I understand that such things are good for tablet or smartphone gaming, but not for the desktop. I don't want to go back to dumb terminals that rely on tons of external hardware and a hyper reliable high bandwith network. I'm pretty happy with having a "supercomputer" under my desk, even if it costs a bit more.

It's not targeted at gamers with high-end hardware. In the end, it might even be unreasonable from a financial standpoint to keep buying hardware for a thousand bucks every some years instead of "renting" the computing power. (I'll probably still do it, but that doesn't mean it's reasonable.)

Something that might change my perspective on this is the climate and ecological impact. Otherwise, I am pretty reluctant to lock myself in at the mercy of cloud providers.
peta77 11 November 2019 at 8:10 pm UTC
Arten
peta77
Arten
peta77I don't like streaming stuff, requires a very good internet connection and I don't want to have screen resolution in the game restricted by any server. Also for single player games it doesn't make any sense to make an online connection a mandatory to be able to play. So I hope there's no upcoming titles which are exclusively available through cloud gaming. Would significantly throw back desktop gaming.

From Stadia, yes, google plan this. But from steam, i think and hope, they don't planing de jure exclusivity for cloud, but is there posibility for de facto time limited cloud exlusivity, because they can use better CPU, more cores,... and then nobody without today threadriper can play it localy, but in some time, it can be posible.
The only thing that would make sense regarding hardware capacity would real-time-raytracing, like that old remote-rendering i.e. SGI did long ago, where your render CPUs/GPUs would be somewhere in the basement and bigger than your appartment. But other than that, for gamers with high-end hardware it would just be a giant step back. I understand that such things are good for tablet or smartphone gaming, but not for the desktop. I don't want to go back to dumb terminals that rely on tons of external hardware and a hyper reliable high bandwith network. I'm pretty happy with having a "supercomputer" under my desk, even if it costs a bit more.

I don’t think so. You thinking only on graphics, but there is more. Your high-end gaming rig can have bottle neck on RAM, CPU or both. There are games with coplex physical simulation, like kerbal space program, where more compute power can be great benefit for developers and players. In KSP, you have physical time warp with all physic calculated and High-speed time warp, which stops all physical calculation except gravity and collisions. With epyc CPU with enaught cores (and multithread physical engine) you can have Physical time warp for higher warp. Yes, if you have high-end PC, but you can buy Epyc/threadripper with 128GB RAM or more and use it at home for gaming and call it gaming high-end...
Sure you can do more complex/extensive simulation with such an amount of computing power in the background. But also think about the target audience size! Real physical simulation is very complex and takes a lot of time, especially if you want to have results (somewhat) comparable with reality. Then it may take i.e. 50 CPU-hours to simulate a quarter of a second (in non-linear industrial quality simulation). So don't set your hopes too high to gain more or even as much as you can get when have a pretty recent ryzen or i7/9. That would require some pretty powerful HPC-cluster (or something similar) which you wouldn't want to pay for. Also, while most simulation problems are quite good parallelizable, it has its limits (due to communication of boundary regions, etc.; it's a science by itself...). Running a simulation on 100 CPUs/cores can actually be slower than running it on eight. The more so if the cores aren't on the same node, even if you use high-bandwith, low stack network protocols.
So, as mentioned before, it surely will increase the quality for mobile devices, but I wouldn't expect any improvement for the desktop. I guess, only effect for the desktop will be that you can significantly downgrade your hardware if you are willing to rely on cloud services only.
chr 12 November 2019 at 9:34 am UTC
peta77
Arten
peta77
Arten
peta77I don't like streaming stuff, requires a very good internet connection and I don't want to have screen resolution in the game restricted by any server. Also for single player games it doesn't make any sense to make an online connection a mandatory to be able to play. So I hope there's no upcoming titles which are exclusively available through cloud gaming. Would significantly throw back desktop gaming.

From Stadia, yes, google plan this. But from steam, i think and hope, they don't planing de jure exclusivity for cloud, but is there posibility for de facto time limited cloud exlusivity, because they can use better CPU, more cores,... and then nobody without today threadriper can play it localy, but in some time, it can be posible.
The only thing that would make sense regarding hardware capacity would real-time-raytracing, like that old remote-rendering i.e. SGI did long ago, where your render CPUs/GPUs would be somewhere in the basement and bigger than your appartment. But other than that, for gamers with high-end hardware it would just be a giant step back. I understand that such things are good for tablet or smartphone gaming, but not for the desktop. I don't want to go back to dumb terminals that rely on tons of external hardware and a hyper reliable high bandwith network. I'm pretty happy with having a "supercomputer" under my desk, even if it costs a bit more.

I don’t think so. You thinking only on graphics, but there is more. Your high-end gaming rig can have bottle neck on RAM, CPU or both. There are games with coplex physical simulation, like kerbal space program, where more compute power can be great benefit for developers and players. In KSP, you have physical time warp with all physic calculated and High-speed time warp, which stops all physical calculation except gravity and collisions. With epyc CPU with enaught cores (and multithread physical engine) you can have Physical time warp for higher warp. Yes, if you have high-end PC, but you can buy Epyc/threadripper with 128GB RAM or more and use it at home for gaming and call it gaming high-end...
Sure you can do more complex/extensive simulation with such an amount of computing power in the background. But also think about the target audience size! Real physical simulation is very complex and takes a lot of time, especially if you want to have results (somewhat) comparable with reality. Then it may take i.e. 50 CPU-hours to simulate a quarter of a second (in non-linear industrial quality simulation). So don't set your hopes too high to gain more or even as much as you can get when have a pretty recent ryzen or i7/9. That would require some pretty powerful HPC-cluster (or something similar) which you wouldn't want to pay for. Also, while most simulation problems are quite good parallelizable, it has its limits (due to communication of boundary regions, etc.; it's a science by itself...). Running a simulation on 100 CPUs/cores can actually be slower than running it on eight. The more so if the cores aren't on the same node, even if you use high-bandwith, low stack network protocols.
So, as mentioned before, it surely will increase the quality for mobile devices, but I wouldn't expect any improvement for the desktop. I guess, only effect for the desktop will be that you can significantly downgrade your hardware if you are willing to rely on cloud services only.

I think hypothetically, if there is enough market demand for cloud gaming, game engineers can focus on the gains that can be had. Pulling the whole game scene towards technologies that can be effectively parallelized on the cloud. Expect clever hacks that simplify the physics to trick the audience to perceive more simulation-awesome and less simulations that are actually accurate.
If there is enough demand the cost can be spread out very efficiently. Most players won't be playing 24/7. And if no-lifeing is too prevalent for the service-providers economic good, they will just introduce tiered subscriptions or pay-as-you-go. I would bet most users would not be using the awesome cloud hardware that much - only playing during their commute or after a workday or on weekends.
Klaus 12 November 2019 at 5:52 pm UTC
I am really looking forward to seeing where this goes.

I am not inclined to value super high fidelity graphics; Much rather I’d have a solution that works well for playing games while laying back in a sofa, but also allows big screen gaming in 720p to 1080p at 60 Hz, preferably doesn’t cause fan noise, and avoids sync issues when switching from phone to TV to PC.

So far I have been using mid range gaming laptops as a stopgap solution, but it always suffered from PC games being optimized under the assumption that users can just pop in a stronger graphics card, and from such devices typically producing a lot of fan noise uncomfortably close to my ears. The Switch seems like a good solution, but doesn’t have many of the games I want to catch up on.

Valve Streaming on the other hand may allow me to access the backlog that I care about on the devices I want to use it on.

Remains to be seen though, how much of their catalog will be cloud enabled.
Klaus 12 November 2019 at 5:56 pm UTC
I think people expecting cloud gaming to result in huge jumps in performance may be a bit naive about the business model. While it certainly enables more efficiently rendering graphics and performances computations, those can only be viable economically if the software or hardware is improved in a manner that makes them sufficiently cheap to execute.

But that essentially is the same requirement as waiting for new graphics cards, new processors, and new software implementing new algorithms.

Then again, maybe they’ll do something smart with machine learning that vastly improves the perceived fidelity and is more efficiently trained by running the games in the cloud?
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