Why streaming video games are bad for the environment

Gaming streaming phones

According to a study from Lancaster University, air pollution will increase by 30% if the majority of gamers use streaming services to play video games in the cloud instead of their own computers and consoles.

If video game streaming is introduced as the new standard, pollutant emissions could increase significantly in just ten years

The math behind this prediction is clear. While cloud games are labeled “clean” as players forego their own high-end gear, the reality is that it is a streaming gaming session uses 156% more energy as a game with local computers like a console or a computer.

This is because running in the cloud isn’t as harmless as it sounds like the cloud actually is a gigantic array of servers They consume a lot of energy. And not only that, because thousands of routers, data centers and tens of thousands of kilometers of fiber optic are required to support this form of play.

The Lancaster University study develops three scenarios: one where streaming gaming services remain a niche, one where they make up 50% of the market, and one where users of those services make up 90% of the market. Player.

In the latter scenario, which is expected to occur in 2030, global carbon emissions They are 30% higher than the current model. And this on the assumption that the streaming has a resolution of 1080p as the emissions would be much higher if 4K were imposed.

Even so, the defenders of the streaming game argue that making less physical hardware (consoles, discs, etc.) would reduce contamination and use less resources. Microsoft, which is currently preparing its own video game streaming service, claims its servers are more efficient than any console.

Google owns Stadia, its own streaming gaming platform, and also claims that the servers that run the service are twice as efficient as other data centers. Both Microsoft and Google claim that their streaming services have a carbon neutral footprint. Achieving a neutral carbon footprint is a sensitive issue, however, as many companies achieve it by buying emission allowances from other companies. So it is more of a bureaucratic than a legal term.

At this time, services like Stadia have not massively reached the public. However, if their performance improves and fees are reduced, we can see cloud gaming replace traditional consoles in a few years’ time.

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