Respawn Entertainment's big debut of Titanfall went off without a hitch. Except for that one hitch, the one where they used "Cloud Servers" as a marketing work and no one could figure out whether that was just smoke or actually a feature. Turns out it was mostly just smoke, but it's still good for everyone in the long run. Better than player-hosted servers 100%. Luckily Respawn engineer Jon Shiring made a lengthy blog post covering the issue.
A majority of the blog goes over the different type of server configurations that multiplayer games typically implement: player-hosted servers and dedicated servers. Player-hosted servers are typically the easiest and cheapest to implement, which is likely why most games use this configuration. However, they have severe limitations. Dedicated servers are much more reliable across the board, but cost much more money.
Cloud servers are the best of all worlds, but only if you've got a partner that owns a proper cloud. Here's what Respawn has to say about Microsoft's Azure cloud:
"With the Xbox Live Cloud, we don’t have to worry about estimating how many servers we’ll need on launch day. We don’t have to find ISPs all over the globe and rent servers from each one. We don’t have to maintain the servers or copy new builds to every server. That lets us focus on things that make our game more fun. And best yet, Microsoft has datacenters all over the world, so everyone playing our game should have a consistent, low latency connection to their local datacenter.
Most importantly to us, Microsoft priced it so that it’s far more affordable than other hosting options – their goal here is to get more awesome games, not to nickel-and-dime developers."
It's good to be exclusive with Microsoft platforms (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC), am I right? That said, Jon ambiguously clarifies that Microsoft would, "host our game servers for other platforms, too!" Is that a conflict of interest if Titanfall came to PS4?
Long story short, Microsoft and Titanfall shouting about cloud servers at E3 was mostly just a marketing tool. What it means for gamers is basically a dedicated server-like experience, but cheaper and more reliable. That said, Respawn has a few, "new ideas," to let the player, "do things they’ve never been able to do before." Until then, best just roll your eyes every time someone gets hyped about cloud servers.