byDylan Eason

As made evident in the recently posted Roku 3 HD review, the concept of streaming media isn’t the “future” or “something to look forward to”—it’s very much here. And in that review, there was a reference to the fact that you can play some simpler games through using the Roku remote, such as the ridiculously popular Angry Birds. While that option is certainly a plus for anyone looking to try something different than simply streaming movies, TV shows, or music, there’s a whole other side to streaming that’s been on the rise these past few years: video games.

While cloud-based gaming has been kicking around since the year 2000, it didn’t truly take off until the launch of OnLive in 2010. This groundbreaking platform allows users to play games on-demand without worrying about purchasing and owning a physical copy of said game. Instead, everything exists entirely in the cloud, which prevents any damage from occurring while completely streamlining the process. And in the ensuing years, competitors came along to give their own take on the concept of on-demand gaming, which has also changed in the way its presented.

Take, for example, the “live” gaming options presented at the InterCasino platform. Here, users can try out a plethora of experiences, though the standout is clearly the option to play in a live setting. As the site notes, you can “find all the excitement of live roulette without even walking out the door,” as it’s all done through the cloud (and your computer browser). There’s no downloading required, simply a log-in, and you’re ready to go. It’s worth noting that other gaming options like this—meaning, playing through your browser—are available in other forms, such as the Internet Arcade.

It’s also worth noting that major consoles are starting to catch on to streaming in an interesting way. While users have been able to use apps such as Netflix for several years now, the ability to completely stream games is something relatively new. That’s particularly true on the PlayStation 4, which is finally seeing a fully realized version of its PlayStation Now service. Previously, users could stream games in a one-off fashion, similar to the old-school rental model of the video store heyday. But as AV Club reports, North American PS Now users will be able to participate in an paid, unlimited streaming subscription starting Jan. 13. Instead of having one game for a limited time, users will have access to more than 100 games that they can play for however long their subscription lasts. And it’s all with no downloads required.

The cross-section of gaming and streaming gets even more intriguing when you look at another application: streaming video of people playing games. This may sound bizarre to those who don’t participate, but it’s really not that strange when you think about it. Spectating has been around as long as there have been people partaking in activities, so why not video games? As it turns out, viewership of gaming has grown incredibly in the past 12 months, with one streaming platform (Twitch) even being bought out by ecommerce giant Amazon.

Given all the changes and improvements in the field of streaming in 2014 alone, it should go without saying that ’15 should be another banner year for how we consume media. I, for one, cannot wait to see what happens next.

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