It was only a matter of time before Valve jumped onto the game streaming bandwagon but it seems it’s using the advantage of hindsight to avoid the problems its peers and rivals have bumped into. Steam Cloud Play isn’t exactly technically a game streaming service but is more a platform that connects games with actual game streaming services. The first such service it is supporting is NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW and it is assuring game developers and publishers that nothing really changes on their end.
To put it simply, Steam Cloud Play just means that games on the Steam library can potentially be made available on GeForce NOW streaming. Presumably, that means the GeForce NOW client will be able to launch supported Steam games but it might also be possible that the Steam launcher will juggle that behind the scenes as well.
The biggest question game publishers on Steam will have is whether this means their titles will automatically be exposed to streaming. That was the drama that NVIDIA got itself into when it suddenly went public, causing publishers to immediately withdraw from the service and forcing NVIDIA to do damage control. Now that things have more or less stabilized, NVIDIA is making GeForce NOW opt-in so that developers and publishers will be the ones to decided whether they want to be part of it or not.
Valve’s answer is pretty much the same. The only a Steam title will be available on GeForce NOW is if the developer or publisher opts into the program. Nothing else changes, including the profits they’ll receive.
There is, however, one thing developers do need to be aware of. If they want their games to support streaming, they should either use Steam Cloud for storing savegames and data or use a service of their own. Otherwise, gamers might be unpleasantly surprised to find out they lost their save data because the cloud instance moved to a different virtual PC.