Resident Evil 7 Cloud Edition and the Streamable Future
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard will be available for purchase on the Nintendo Switch next week, but with quite a few strings attached. Dubbed the “Cloud Edition”, for $20, you’re able to stream Resident Evil 7 to your Nintendo Switch for six months. Available only in Japan, this isn’t the first time this streamable solution has hit the Nintendo Switch – Phantasy Star Online 2 operates under similar parameters. Phantasy Star Online 2 doesn’t have a western release date, nor any plans to make one. Resident Evil 7 looks to be going down that same road, as the streamable future of the Nintendo Switch seems to be something only Japan can pull off.
America has a rough time competing with other countries when it comes to internet speeds. Being the third largest nation in the world, America simply isn’t going to have nearly as easy of a time getting the kind of internet access Japan does. Even if you have “good” internet in America, streaming games isn’t always in the cards. A lot of internet providers have data caps, making it so you have to divvy out and ration how much internet you use on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. These limitations alone give Capcom, Nintendo, or any company looking to stream their games the idea that it’s not a sustainable business model in America.
Even divorced from the internet provider issues America has, the Switch is a portable as much as it is a console. I can’t see streaming games to it as a viable option compared to the PC or even other consoles, as the allure of taking the Switch with you is part of what made it sell 20 million units in a year’s time. On top of that, the only option Nintendo gives Switch owners who want a LAN connection to their console comes in the form of a decade-old LAN adapter that plugs into USB ports. This lack of forethought can tie consumers’ hands when it comes to streaming games, and Resident Evil 7 is a pretty high-caliber game on a technical level. There shouldn’t be any corners cut when it comes to getting the best performance out of it or any streamale game.
A service that this kind of rental is comparable to is PlayStation Now. On PlayStation Now, you pay a subscription service to stream games, on top of the rental price. Mileage varies (as does the stream quality), but it was an interesting step on Sony’s part to dip their toe into this streamable future. The only problem is, as with many Sony initiatives, getting the word out on the newest additions or improvements being made to the service has proven to be difficult. PlayStation Now doesn’t have a lot of momentum going forward, putting this streamable future into question.
Streaming games on the PC market is a bit more of an open-ended prospect, though its popularity isn’t as widespread. The echoes of the failure of OnLive are still found in the PC gaming space, but that hasn’t stopped plenty of companies from trying. Applications like Parsec make some avenues of streaming games a bit more simplified. By and large, however, it’s not as straightforward as renting a game for a few months for an up-front fee.
The model that is posed by Resident Evil 7 Cloud Edition is actually one of the more alluring models of streamable video games. Taking out the data cap concerns that would plague literally any game streaming service, this is essentially a long-term rental for $20. Were they able to make a comparable bargain for more contemporary games, this would give even the likes of Redbox a run for its money.
Not even having English as an option in Resident Evil 7’s settings is a concrete answer to whether or not the trend hits the United States on the Nintendo Switch. We’ve seen corporations try and hype us up about the future of cell phone reception in 5G, but those services are even more strictly data capped than your average internet provider. Whether or not the streamable future comes to pass in the United States has little to do with the average consumer. It’s up to the proliferation of high-quality, high data ceiling internet providers to give companies like Capcom a second glance at the United States, and maybe even the west as a whole.