Once upon a time, hosting an online game was the domain of the technologically hyper-literate. The reason PC gamers were then, and often still are, classified as geeks was partially due to the skills and knowledge required not only when playing a communal online game, but also when acquiring the hardware, software, and wherewithal to allow online gaming to occur in the first place. The process of VPS hosting (that’s Virtual Private Server, for the uninitiated) is a complex process by which software functions as a private computer server for each individual using it. But it’s not a private server, although it offers the benefits of privacy, and the “machine” providing the service isn’t a physical machine at all, it’s virtual. If this sounds confusing, then the point has been proven, but since the advent of Windows hosting, and services like Windows Live that Xbox users will already be intimately familiar with and grateful for, the ability to host an online game has been extended to the masses.
How Gamers Choose
Serious gamers who aren’t using an Xbox to play games online are likely to be using some variety of PC (probably one specifically geared toward gamers, and probably one that doesn’t fit on a lap). The simplest explanation for this is: GPU (or Graphics Processing Unit). Since the beginning Apple has been behind the game on graphics processing, and while this disadvantage has had very little effect on standard everyday use, it makes a world of difference for gamers. A gamer, playing games on a PC, is also likely to be operating that PC with some version of Microsoft Windows. Some may shake their heads and say that Linux is the only OS they’ll ever love, but Microsoft Windows comes standard on almost every PC purchased, and has thus become ubiquitous. So, even for online gamers who aren’t designing or hosting their own games, when Windows stepped onto the hosting scene there were advantages.
What Players Can Do Now
Knowing almost nothing about the complicated, acronym riddled world of computer programming, armed with nothing but a PC (or a Mac, to be fair), a high-speed broadband connection, and the desire to play a game, anyone can now call themselves host. The Windows Live network allows users to create an avatar, which Windows calls a “gamertag”, log in and either join or host an online game. Users of Xbox live experience the easy value of Windows hosting regularly. The experience of playing a game like Call of Duty offline is nothing compared to the experience of playing it against other live players across the world. Imagine playing Super Mario Bros. with someone in another state, or Donkey Kong Country, tagging out so that a friend three miles away can play as Diddy Kong. Bringing online hosting provided by AccuWeb hosting to video gaming systems, and enhancing the ability and compatibility of online gaming for PC players is just the tip of the iceberg for Microsoft.
What is Next?
With the imminent release of Windows 8 comes rumor of yet another revolution in gaming: the integration of the Xbox and Windows. This communion would allow Windows 8 users to enjoy Xbox Live games in the Windows environment. So far, what is known about the Windows release is that downloading a game from the Microsoft App store will enable users to gain achievements and access their friend list. Additionally, a recently announced partnership with Agawi will bring Facebook social and “mid-core” games, web-based MMOs (Massively Multi-player Online), and “core” PC games to Windows 8 devices, all courtesy of the cloud.