GDC: “Cloud is a great opportunity,” says Wright

Friday, 27th March 2009 09:44 GMT By Stephany Nunneley


Spore-creator Will Wright has told VG247 that he believes Cloud will work if supported properly by developers and publishers, and that the concept represents a “great opportunity” for the industry.

“In the future, if people are really browsing these things, it’s a great opportunity,” he said, talking of Cloud-based systems like OnLive, which was announced this week at GDC.

If Cloud gaming’s successful, however, Wright said it wouldn’t affect the way he develops games.

“No, not really,” he said when asked if a surge in Cloud popularity would change his content.

“With hardware I really don’t care if it’s Xbox, PC or Cloud.”

OnLive caused quite a stir earlier this week with its remote-play concept, a theory apparently debunked yesterday by tech specialist Richard Leadbetter.



  1. Blerk

    Separated at birth!

    #1 6 years ago

    Found this really good comment on Joystiq.

    As somebody who writes software for a massively distributed system (a search engine) I find this whole thing pretty fascinating. The first paragraph in the article alone makes it clear that scaling something like this to any appreciable subscriber base would cost money in utterly shocking ways. The power draw of a modern GPU *alone* is typically measured in dozens or hundreds of watts. The heat output is enormous. The cost of simply powering and cooling 10,000 gaming rigs (to support 10,000 concurrent players, an incredibly modest goal) will be measured in hundreds of millions per year. Forget the rest of the infrastructure you’d need to support something like this (persistent storage of user data, automatic repair, etc). And in order to meet an acceptable latency SLA you’d need to have presence on both American coasts for the USA alone. Great, now what do you do when someone in Virginia is in SF and wants to continue his saved game of ? Move the data? Punt them back to the east coast and eat 200ms latencies?

    Who’s going to pay for this? The numbers are perplexing. If you have 1m subscribers and 1% of them play at a time (that’s 10,000 as above) and you charge them $15/mo that’s about $180m/yr. This is a far cry from what they’d need to run the above.

    Now, all that aside, I could see this making a huge splash in places like hotels and other entertainment “hotspots” who can charge exorbitant fees for one-time use. But as a general service this sounds like Phantom 2.0 to me.

    #2 6 years ago
  3. Patrick Garratt

    Not sounding too great, is it?

    #3 6 years ago
  4. Shatner

    Bold is the new CAPITALS

    #4 6 years ago


    #5 6 years ago
  6. Dr.Haggard

    And evidently spaces are the new, er.. not spaces.

    #6 6 years ago
  7. Newbie101

    I still don’t get the hatred for this, I’m glad there are people in our industry trying to re-invent new ways to delivery games and revolutionise the industry.

    People said Steam wouldn’t work… but look at it now.

    #7 6 years ago

    I’d say that it was an unacceptance of being duped rather than some sort of blind hatred.

    There’s nothing wrong with new stuff at all. Rather, I seem to remember a lot of hype and buzz surrounding the Wii-mote when it was first previewed.

    I, for one, was certainly hyped about it, as someone whose games are mostly FPS’s. It was full of massive potential.

    I think we’re all constantly looking for something new, but it’s got to be an honest new thing that will make gaming better, rather than some scheme dreamt up by greedy executives looking for a fast buck.

    #8 6 years ago
  9. Retroid

    Exactly; this has absolutely NOTHING to do with things like Steam. Steam downloads everything to your own PC, the only difference is that there are no CDs / DVDs.

    This thing is a completely different thing altogether – one which seems to fly in the face of the speed of light, for one thing.

    #9 6 years ago
  10. Newbie101

    I didn’t say it was like Steam, I know it’s nothing like Steam. But, when Steam first came about, loads of people said ‘It won’t work’, ‘I want a physical game’, ‘WTF you need to be online to activate it?!!? That will never work’, yet it did.
    It’s very, very ambitious but so what? Don’t forget, publishers are not only supporting it but giving them their products as well (this is more than the ‘Phantom’).

    #10 6 years ago
  11. Shatner

    Comparisons to Steam are appropriate. Steam was a new delivery service for games that was dependent on the internet. It involved transactions, payments, concerns regarding bandwidth and sense of ownership. Steam (and also some of Microsoft’s “Live” services) are moving features over to cloud computing – such as player data.

    Whilst the intrinsic nuts and bolts are different, many issues regarding its presentation to the consumers draw many suitable parallels with the OnLive service.

    People who are so keen to ignore all those similiarities relating to Steam’s presentation tend to be the ones that categorise Steam as “good” and want to categorise OnLive/Cloud as “bad” so it suits them to suggest there is no overlap at all.

    Note the word “presentation” in this comment. It’s important.

    #11 6 years ago

    @ Newbie101:

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve never been one of those people who need a box and a physical disc.

    In fact, sometimes I can’t even be bothered to change the DVD in my 360 when I’m bored of a particular game, so I either turn it off or just load up an XBLA game. I’d much prefer it if everything was on my HD and I didn’t need any discs. All of my boxes usually just get shoved in a drawer as soon as they’re opened too.

    I never complained about the idea of steam, and I’m usually the one predicting a future with no physical media whilst others are talking about the joys of smelling a new box(!?)…

    The thing here is that Steam was always technically quite straightforward to do. For a good while before it came about, you could purchase and download numerous bits of software from a whole host of places. I’m not sure why anyone would say that it wasn’t technically possible, as the precedent was already there.

    The people behind OnLies… er… I mean OnLive are talking about giving us something that no expert has yet come forward to say that they think is actually possible.

    There are bucket loads of apparent problems with what they’re proposing. The latency issue, the bandwidth problems, ISP data cap issues, power issues, costs, etc, etc, etc…

    Steam was a simple download service that people might have been scared of because of it’s affect on piracy more than anything else. As I don’t make a habit of downloading illegal software, this isn’t an issue for me, nor would I expect it to be an issue for the likes of Richard Leadbetter and his tech sources.

    #12 6 years ago
  13. Shatner

    Yeah. That’s a good point. If a guy who hasn’t tried to do it says it can’t be done then I guess the people trying to do it are just wasting their time!

    I dunno. I recall that Leadbetter chap making some “Oh, stop being such fanboys and doing pointless 360/PS3 comparisons of every game that comes out” virtuous statement before doing a 360/PS3 bunch of comparions a week later. I got the distinct impression his writing was more about getting people to visit the site than informing people.

    But isn’t it funny how all these so called “experts” have suddenly popped up to tell us what is or isn’t possible. Surely, if they were such experts we’d have heard them talk on the subject before someone else presented it. Not a day afterwards.

    I wonder how many things have become possible that people claimed were impossible.

    In other news: the world isn’t flat, it’s round!

    #13 6 years ago
  14. Retroid

    I look forward to OnLive offering lag-free long-distance / international phonecalls with their tech, not to mention perfectly-synced satellite hook-ups for the news.

    The point with steam is that IT’S STILL RUNNING THE SOFTWARE ON YOUR OWN MACHINE, so lag is entirely up to the code. With OnLive and such every input is going to have to be bounced (probably hundreds) of miles through various internet hurdles before the machine running the code can interpret it and show you the effect, by sending the audio and video through those same internet and distance hurdles.

    Steam didn’t really have the laws of physics to argue with… other than bandwidth :)

    #14 6 years ago
  15. Psychotext

    My two main issues with it are from the business perspective (high end server farms are bastard expensive, bandwidth is bastard expensive) and how this is exacerbated by the network perspective (you need more server farms because the laws of physics dictate that latency increases over distance).

    That’s not mentioning video encode / decode speeds (Not my speciality) and the bandwidth required not only for the individual… but for 10k of those individuals hitting a data centre at once.

    #15 6 years ago

    What’s really shocking is that they’re being hit with all of these questions, but don’t seem to have any answers.

    When asked about bandwidth problems, all they seem to be able to come up with is a dismissive downplaying and a “hope” that ISP’s will decide to help them out.

    So far it looks like they’re going to need to come up with some sort of new, unknown technology to get latency down to 1ms, build data farms that will generate enough heat to rival the inside of a volcano, consume almost unthinkable amounts of power and keep all of this going within a quality service.

    On top of that, they’re going to have to work out a way to pay for all of this with a subscription price that gamers are willing to pay. And sorry, but if even the Playstation brand can’t soften the blow of a high price for a top quality console, then some unknown gaming service doesn’t stand much chance.

    When you think about it like that, you wonder why they don’t just release a console.

    #16 6 years ago
  17. theevilaires

    Good points made by both Psycho and Giga. Bastard expensive is a great term :P

    #17 6 years ago
  18. Shatner

    Retroid missing the entire point of the term “presentation” there. Quite spectacular. Well done chap.

    #18 6 years ago
  19. Retroid


    Bearing in mind I wasn’t just responding to one post.

    #19 6 years ago

    #20 6 years ago

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