Could Game Streaming Services Spell the End for the Apple Gaming Apps?

When Apple released the iPhone and introduced apps to the mobile phone world, it sparked a revolution in the marketplace. The smartphone was born and the user experience was propelled forward at an incredible rate. Phones became tools that powered the everyday work, social and leisure activities of users. And apps were at the centre of it all.

But technology moves on and the major players in the industry have been busy planning the next mobile revolution. It is no surprise that the next big change in the mobile world is likely to feature streaming. Streaming and cloud computing have grown rapidly in recent years and both Microsoft and Google are developing systems that will allow users to stream top video games titles to a range of devices including mobile phones.

Microsoft’s product is currently running under the title Project XCloud, while Google’s effort is simply known as Project Stream. Both are currently being tested in beta stage and there is likely to be a race to bring them to the market. Initially, these products will focus on gaming.

The big question for hardware and software developers, and the gaming public, is what effect these streaming services will have on traditional consoles and gaming apps? While it is easy to suggest there is room for both in the marketplace, history tells us that new, more accessible and user-friendly technology invariably spells the end for older formats. Streaming has already transformed the way users consume music, TV and film.

"DualShock 3 (3)" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by William Hook

“DualShock 3 (3)” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by William Hook

For that to happen in the mobile gaming world, Apple users would need to break away from the comfort zone of their apps. Mobile applications have become extremely popular thanks to the way they each deliver a single solution to suit the user’s lifestyle. What’s more, apps are designed to work on different screen sizes, so when a user switches from an iPad to an iPhone, the experience is almost identical. So whatever the interests of the user, they can install their favourite apps and have everything they need at their fingertips. The range of applications is incredible with millions currently available in the Apple and Google Play stores.

However, moving to cloud-based streaming systems could prove seamless for users as games and other themed apps could be released in a way where an icon is still installed on the device without actually downloading the entire pack. Accessing the app would simply link you to the cloud service from where the app is operated. On the surface, little might change, but behind the scenes, the way the app content is stored and delivered would be totally new.

Microsoft and Google are planning to make their service available across all operating system, so Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, Android, Windows and Linux users will be able to enjoy streamed games as they become available. If the gaming projects prove successful, we could see more and more apps streamed in this way.

Of course, gaming via a streaming service does raise the issues of loss of connectivity and speed of gameplay, but as technology continues to improve, these problems will become less and less relevant. If the project is successful, gaming consoles could become a thing of the past and the traditional app market would undergo it first big revolution.