By Kyle Stewart
Days after the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I started on my journey through the game. Video game company Bethesda Softworks once again delivered an amazing gaming experience, which kept me busy for 6 months and more than 100 hours of play time. With so much time invested in developing my character and completing quests, I would sometimes wonder what would happen if my Xbox 360 suddenly experienced the dreaded red ring of death. If for some reason I had a hardware failure or needed to upgrade my gaming platform, it’s very likely I would have had to start my journey through Skyrim over. At the very least, it would have been a challenging task to bring my saved game files to a new device.
PC gamers also experience this same frustration when they own more than one computer. An installed copy on one computer doesn’t share saved game files with a copy on another computer. The same loss of game files happens when a PC is replaced with a newer model, which happens quite often for gamers on the cutting edge. What is needed is a way to automatically back up game files to a safe location and sync with other gaming devices. Cloud storage is the perfect platform to solve this problem.
Last year, Microsoft launched the ability for Xbox 360 owners to save games in the cloud. If you have an Xbox LIVE Gold account and an Internet connection, your saved games can be backed up and even used on other Xbox 360 consoles. If you need to replace your Xbox 360, simply log in to your LIVE account on your new Xbox, and launch your game from Cloud Game Saves. This is certainly a feature I should have been using for my epic journey through Skyrim.
Ok, so what about for PC gamers? Video game development company Valve has been a pioneer in online gaming with their Steam platform, which allows gamers to play from any computer and connect with other players. Since you can already download your games from the Internet via the Steam client, it was a natural extension for Valve to also provide cloud storage to save game settings for its users. Steam Cloud provides space that game developers can take advantage of to store game saves and settings. Many games on Steam are now using these cloud storage features, including Skyrim.
Some games, such as Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo III, store all game settings for its players on the server. This solves the problem of hardware loss and syncing across devices very well, but also creates another problem. Games cannot be played when the user isn’t connected to the Internet. Using cloud storage gives the advantage of storing and syncing without needing to always be connected to the Internet. The local copy of the game files is usable even if the gaming device isn’t connected to the Internet. When an Internet connection is re-established, content is automatically synced to the cloud.
Both Microsoft and Valve have the resources to provide cloud storage as part of their gaming platforms. It doesn’t always make sense for smaller game developers, specifically indie developers, to develop their own cloud storage service for their games. The monthly cost of running such a service can quickly become costly as its user base expands. Valve and other companies make it possible to launch on their platforms, but for some developers this isn’t the best option. What other options do low-budget game developers have to allow gamers to sync and store their game content?
Major cloud storage services, including CX, provide API‘s that could allow indie game creators the use of a proven cloud storage platform with very little development effort or costs. Many people are starting to realize the benefits of cloud storage and may already have a cloud storage account set up. Game developers can use the existing storage and sync features on their players’ devices to enable cloud saving for their game. By leveraging existing services, small game developers can compete with the larger companies and keep their costs minimal.
If you are a gamer on an epic quest to save the princess, make sure the cloud storage feature is turned on for your platform.