Hey, you, get onto my cloud
While the “Steam Cloud Gaming” name seems evocative and self-explanatory enough, its reveal doesn’t necessarily mean that Valve will be following in the footsteps of Google’s Stadia, Microsoft’s Project xCloud, Sony’s PlayStation Now, and Nvidia’s GeForce Now. Valve has offered the similarly named “Steam Cloud” service for maintaining save files across devices since 2008, after all.
That said, Valve has been experimenting with streaming games since 2014, when it first introduced in-home streaming as a beta feature. In March, the company expanded that feature to include outside-the-home streaming, essentially letting users set up their own cloud gaming service by using a home PC as the server. And in October, Valve announced a “Remote Play Together” feature that lets players share streamed local multiplayer gameplay with up to three friends.
Expanding those ideas to a truly centralized “cloud gaming” offering with Valve-controlled servers would likely be trivial from a technical point of view. And Valve already partners with Level 3‘s CDN to provide game downloads and multiplayer services, which could definitely help if it decided to offer low-latency game streaming to customers worldwide.
With so many gamers already maintaining a massive library of Steam games, a Valve cloud gaming service would have a leg up on the start-from-scratch à la carte game purchases of Google Stadia, for instance. And with major publishers predicting that cloud gaming could soon replace specialized gaming hardware, it’s hard to blame Valve for apparently wanting to get in on the idea.