Cloud-based gaming and digital distribution demonstrate the cost-efficiency, flexibility, and availability benefits of cloud computing. Mobile games have always been the most common and well-known form of cloud-based gaming. Not all mobile games are entirely cloud-based—some need to be downloaded and installed onto the user’s smartphone or tablet to be played. However, there are a number of mobile videogames that don’t require local installation, and many of the installed apps communicate with a cloud to update their advertisements. Zynga, the developer of popular programs such as Mafia Wars and FarmVille, uses a hybrid cloud infrastructure to host 1.4 petabytes of data and support 300 million unique monthly users.
The switch from locally-installed videogames to cloud-based mobile games benefits both users and developers. Users only have to pay $5-10 instead of $50-60 per game. They can play their favorite games anywhere and at any time. The cloud-based distribution model also lowers the costs of the developers: while it costs $50 million to make a big-budget console game, the initial version of Angry Birds had a budget of only $150,000. (In 2011, the Angry Birds franchise made $6 million per month in ad revenue alone.) Developers also no longer have to split their earnings with publishers and retailers, and can reach a worldwide audience without a paying a cent in shipping costs. In addition, the flexibility of the cloud lets the game companies rapidly increase or decrease their storage capacity, processing power, and bandwidth in response to fluctuating demand. Zynga, for example, boasts of its ability to add 1,000 servers to its IT infrastructure within 24 hours.
PC and console gamers and developers have benefited from cloud technologies, too. Users can purchase and download games from the platform’s respective online marketplace. Though downloaded games don’t cost any less than store-bought versions, consumers no longer have to waste time or gas to drive to an electronics store, and the developers don’t have to split the sale with the retailer. These online marketplaces also increase availability by letting users access their profile-associated programs and “saves” on other devices (useful if they have multiple PCs or if their console needs to be replaced). Furthermore, it makes it much easier and cheaper for developers to distribute their products, and there’s never any danger of running out of copies.
In addition, a few companies have taken the cloud gaming idea a step further, attempting to build technologies that would allow users to play current-generation videogames without having to a purchase a console or a “gaming rig” PC. With their technology, analogous to a virtual desktop, their servers store all of a game’s data, perform all of its computations, and conjure all of its visuals. The user only needs a web-enabled device (desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, thin clients, and even some televisions). When the users manipulate their controller, their device sends their actions to the companies’ servers, which in turn send back the visual data of the in-progress game. Even though it’s still in development, this technology demonstrates the potential power of cloud computing, able to handle the extensive processing requirements of the most cutting-edge videogames.
Businesses and consumers searching for a cutting-edge yet viable cloud-based solution should look no further than IronOrbit. With this all-in-one online IT infrastructure, users get server-grade processing and networking; data storage and backup; and 24x7x365 technical support. They can access their files and applications from anywhere with any web-enabled device. IronOrbit’s flat monthly rate amounts to a fraction of what it costs to build and maintain an on-site IT infrastructure, while its wealth of features and superior support put it over similarly-priced cloud solutions in terms of quality and value. Don’t play games with your IT infrastructure—trust your files and applications with a fully-managed, top-of-the-line cloud-based solution.