As many as 150 million people will be streaming high-end computer games over a high-speed internet connection by the end of next year.
Gaming has never been more popular, be it via a PC, dedicated console or, increasingly, a tablet or smartphone app. In fact it turns out gaming comes second only to social media when our handsets are concerned.
But as well as smartphones becoming mobile games consoles, another developing tech trend for 2014 has been the growing popularity of cloud gaming -- streaming quality titles over the internet that can be played on consoles or the desktop.
According to market research firm Strategy Analytics, PlayStation Now and Nvidia Grid, two such streaming services are on track to snare 30 million subscribers before the end of the year. But more importantly, the company is forecasting that combined subscriber numbers will have hit 150 million -- a five-fold increase -- over the next 12 months.
And those figures are based on an addressable audience -- i.e., those consumers who are already committed gamers.
At the moment, accessing serious games means investing in an equally serious PC or getting a PlayStation 4, an Xbox One or both. But, conceivably any existing console, notebook or desktop computer as well as tablets could become true gaming devices if the heavy graphics and gameplay processing was being done in the cloud.
One of the reasons why Sony's latest generation console, the PlayStation4, is outselling Microsoft's Xbox One is believed to be the Sony's cloud gaming service. It has allowed owners of new consoles to be able to stream their favorite titles that were great games on older PlayStations to the new consoles -- even though physical copies of the same games are not compatible on the new console.
Strategy Analytics points to this compatibility via the cloud as a huge selling point and a feature that it believes will spur other companies to develop their own cloud services over the next year.
However, the transition from physical copies and consoles to the cloud will not be smooth. As well as reliable high-speed broadband connections, providers are going to have to find the right balance between performance and user frustration.
Game streaming isn't like movie streaming: it is much more recourse intensive, and so quality of graphics rendering, for instance, might be of a lower quality in order to offer gaming experiences that are smooth with low latency.