Google’s Stadia, Sony’s PlayStation Now, and Microsoft’s upcoming xCloud cloud gaming services have a new competitor: Fog gaming from Sega. While Sega itself hasn’t spoken about this at all, according to journalist Zenji Nishikawa’s column in Famitsu magazine (summed up here by a blogger), this could be Sega’s own entry into this fast-changing field. But with a difference. It seems that unlike the common way of going about implementing a cloud computing service, which usually involves investing in data centers that run apps (and do other stuff) for users, Sega’s adopting a ‘fog computing’ approach – by using its existing base of arcade machines as servers.
The post claims Sega is looking to achieve ‘ultra-low latency’ and will be using any spare or idle capacity of its massive arcade gaming network, creating the equivalent of a distributed data centre that’s akin to an edge computing environment: Unlike ‘traditional’ cloud gaming services, which rely on a central server streaming gameplay to users, most of the work here will be performed by a bunch of distributed nodes. In this case, Sega might be well-placed to handle this thanks to its own arcades as well as its presence in third-party arcades across Japan.
Also, by moving the servers closer to where users are, Sega could also achieve its aim of lower latency, which is, as any gamer would say, a pretty big deal. Then there’s the COVID factor – with most sectors of the global economy now under retreat, and consumers turning towards activities and services that offer less human contact, this could also turn out to be a new business opportunity for Sega as well as its arcade gaming centers which are probably looking at a severe downturn in business.