Games without frontiers -- cloud may render set-top boxes obsolete

Another major industry is starting to get disrupted big time by the cloud.

Another major industry is starting to get disrupted big time by the cloud.

Chris Nuttall, writing in The Financial Times, observes that the set-top box and console for computer games may soon be going the way of the VCR -- being replaced by online games that are streamed to consumers from cloud data centers.

Online gaming is no small pastime for teenagers after they finish their homework (ha ha). As noted earlier this month here at SmartPlanet, it represents a huge global industry that may even surpass defense spending. There is also immense potential for gaming as a business tool.

The move to the cloud may help to start to unravel the tangle in living rooms and dens full of Playstations, Nintendo, Wii and XBox equipment, FT's Nuttall says. Nuttall reports that online game companies such as OnLive, Playcast, and GameTree TV are beginning to stream games to consumers in early markets.

While computer games already use the Internet to bring competitors together from around the world, we may soon be able to partake in them without the hardware, cartridges, and disks. As Nuttall put it:

"Although it enhances them now, the Internet could soon make these devices obsolete... the PC box can go and little more than a monitor, keyboard and mouse are needed."

Another interesting twist that I've also observed is that games themselves are serving as gateways to the Internet. The Wii system itself, for example, can serve as a front-end device for surfing the Internet, though not quite as agile as a mobile or PC. Either way, the convergence is coming on strong.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com