DATE: Sun 04 Apr 2021 By: HexDSL@Posteo.net

Streaming Games Thoughts.

GFN is close but not quite there.

As is a matter of public record (because made loads of videos on it) I was a supporter of the concept of streaming video games early on. I know all the pitfalls of becoming reliant on massive corporations and I know that it can never serve everyone. I know all this and am quite aware that lots of people think it’s terrible both philosophically and simply from an end-user perspective.

My reasons for using streaming are that some games don’t work on Linux. I play those on streaming services. Destiny, Vermintide 2, Fortnite, Paladins, these are games that I usually want to play socially so just skipping them because they don’t work on Linux is hard especially when there are such simple ways to play them via streaming. I also don’t ideally want to buy expensive hardware upgrades for the very small number of “Triple-A” games I play. Most of my gaming is strange little indie games and very little is Cyberpunk 2077, comparatively.

I have chronicled my personal romance and breakup with Stadia in video form. But I’ll give you the very very very short version here in case you are not familiar…

I like stadia, it’s a great service and I feel that it has lowest latency and best visuals of any streaming service I have tried. There are two things that I don’t like though:

1 - The fact that they port console versions of games. Meaning I have no advanced visual options (FOV) and very little in the way of keyboard settings. 2 - The business model. If I buy a game I can only play it in 1080 unless I pay a monthly subscription. This is shite. If I’m buying the game on Stadia I should get full access to it. If I am subscribing I should get more for that money.

Eventually I stopped using Stadia entirely when PUBG removed their keyboard and mouse queue. Meaning I can only play on controller on that platform. A Platform I use at my Desk. Where my Keyboard and Mouse reside.

This is when I embraced “Geforce Now” (GFN). Geforce Now addresses most my issues. I can pay them a small amount of money and then I get to play games I own on other platforms. I have played many hours of games on GFN. Mostly it’s been Vermintide, Fortnite and Cyberpunk 2077. The service is mostly what I want but not quite there.

I want the technology to be a little better. I often get soft images on GFN games sometimes I even get smearing. Mostly its fine but it happens often enough that it’s a thing. I would also like support for a higher resolutions and better game “library” tools.

Because I don’t have to buy games directly on GFN, I don’t have to worry that it one day maybe shut down. I have no “buy-in” to the platform to worry about. I just play my games there and if something goes wrong I have lost nothing. This serves to give me a piece of mind that I just don’t get from Stadia. I also like that they are not offering me subscription-based-unlocks or tiered plans. They are actually pretty good from that point of view.

It’s a shame that something like X-cloud from Microsoft will eventually take over. X-cloud/game-pass is a system by which you rent games as part of a Netflix style “all you can eat” subscription. This means you don’t even have the illusion of ownership. I have no doubt that Microsoft’s offering will eventually take over though because it is a darn good deal for anyone who doesn’t want that ownership. I myself don’t much care about his either. Not compared to paying a small monthly fee for all the games.

There is a strong argument for why streaming is bad for the gaming industry and I am not blind to this but is just one aspect of the whole scene. As long as streaming never becomes the only way to play these games then I don’t see it as a problem, over all.

I am also on record with a pretty clear and controversial opinion about game archival and preservation. In my opinion is the cultural impact of a game that is historically important not the game its self. With this in mind I think that future historians will be far more interested in lets-plays than ROMS and backups. Seeing how people responded to the work at its time is more important overall than the thing its self.

Also, related to that: it seems to us right now that the 80s was a decade of very specific music with a certain feel and vibe. The reality was, if you were around in the 80s here were many terrible songs, bad movies and fashion mistakes. We only take forward those things that were good and worth remembering. The same is true of games. We remember DOOM and Mario 3 but forget the million DOOM-likes and terrible platformers. Good stuff rarely vanishes. And no one cares when bad stuff fades away. - Just thought I would slip that in there as a little aside.

This article has been a ramble where I sort some thought’s out and was not intended to reveal the soul and mind of god and shape the future.. I hope you enjoyed it for the brain noodling that it was. As always please email any comments you have to hexdsl@posteo.net.