The tech world was buzzing today with a report that Netflix will stream Telltale Games’ Minecraft: Story Mode — an initiative that looked like the video subscription giant was planning to dip its toe into the gaming waters. But as it turns out, the report’s not quite accurate, which means Netflix is effectively ceding the soon-to-be major streaming game market to game companies.
A sea change is on the horizon for the console industry. Over the next few years, major technology advances are going to enable publishers to stream fully rendered games directly over broadband and phone networks to subscribers, enabling high-end PC-quality games to be played on almost anything with a modern screen.
Until recently, three bottlenecks have stopped game developers from prerendering their games on powerful remote servers and streaming the content to less powerful devices. First, the devices haven’t had the hardware to display the games cleanly. Second, the server-to-device pipes have been small and slow. And third, the devices haven’t necessarily had proper controllers for games.
Manufacturers and network developers are literally only months away from solving these problems. Current TV boxes and upcoming mobile devices have sufficient horsepower to display and quickly refresh 4K content. Global broadband speeds are increasing, and latency — the factor preventing a distant computer from recalculating quickly to accommodate user inputs — is about to nosedive, thanks to soon-to-be-launched 5G wireless networks. Last but not least, between VR headsets, Bluetooth game controllers, ubiquitous…