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Head in the Cloud: Gaming’s hardware agnostic future

Monday, 20 June 2011 08:10 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Expectation says we’re three to four years from the next major console cycle. If cloud gaming has anything to do with it, it may well be the last.

Let’s imagine for a minute that things will go as history dictates, and in 2014 or thereabouts, Sony releases PlayStation 4 and Microsoft gives birth to the Xbox Whatever.

Everyone is blown away by the fact that all games can now appear in full resolution on enormous HD displays, at incredibly high frame rates, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it loading times, and so much connectivity that every time you fart it posts a status update and gives you an achievement for it, probably adding a photo of your gas-relieved face to Facebook. It’s amazing.

But – how do you choose between these two systems? The notion of the third-party exclusive is already a past one, and even Sony has said cross-platform games are better for the industry in general. As both offer increasingly similar services, the difference becomes one of brand loyalty and multiplayer peer pressure.

What if you didn’t have to choose – or if your choice didn’t matter? And what, in fact, have platform holders got that a tiny chip in your Internet-capable telly can’t provide?

The future is now

OnLive and Gaikai offer streaming gaming, the first as a consumer subscription offering, and the other as an advertising service. Both are expected to run direct from your TV – no micro-console required – by next year, and to support various mobile devices, too.

No average consumer can afford the kind of hardware these services can pack into data centres, running your games more beautifully than any reasonably-priced home system can.

Next year your console – and all future consoles – will begin to become obsolete.

It’s easy to laugh this off – after all, some of us are living in major metropolitan areas and unable to summon the bandwidth to stream a low-resolution film – but internet connections are only improving worldwide, and as we reach the limits of how many processors and how much memory can be packed into a sub-$1,000 system, the sun is setting on the age of under-the-TV hardware.

OnLive’s new hardware: a controller.

The Revolution

But not on the age of devices. Regardless of how well the telly in your living room runs Battlefield 5, someone’s always going to want to watch the footy, or force you to go outside. If you want to take your gaming with you – and increasingly, it seems we do, if the number of people doing the iPhone prayer over Angry Birds is any indication – then there’s still room for Hardware.

Nintendo’s Wii U shows the company understands at least half of this equation, unshackling you from the TV, but notably failing to cut the cords completely. 3DS is its complementary answer to portable gaming, but a simply woeful online content experience, underwhelming reception and lack of cloud and crossplay features suggest this isn’t going to cut it.

Microsoft and Sony, on the other hand, are better positioned, and are both already making the right noises.

Windows Phone 7 is getting more and more console-like, integrating more closely with Live and making a push to capture games, with the Xbox 360 turning into an “entertainment” centre to keep it relevant – that is, a physical home for Live, a platform which could easily be detached from the ‘box itself when the time comes, to float hardware-agnostically like OnLive and even, perhaps, Steam.

Sony’s Vita is perhaps a more daring step, eschewing smart phone features to carve out a new niche of genuine potential for hardcore gaming in the portable space. The handheld’s social and connected features, and most importantly, its capacity for cross-play and cloud saving, add weight to its chances for survival.

Both Sony and Microsoft have handheld hardware systems that are worth investigating, and will pave the way for the upcoming revolution.

Platforming

Everyone wants to become a “platform”. Steam is a platform. EA wants to be a platform. The PlayStation Network and Xbox Live are platforms. What the hell does that even mean?

It means a service which delivers games to you, and gives you a reason to choose that service over another – with exclusives, yes, but also with content delivery, community features, digital rights management, and developer support. “Platform holder” will soon no longer mean “hardware manufacturer” so much as “digital service provider”.

In the end, some platforms won’t make it, others will thrive, and the market will always feature at least a handful of major players alongside smaller independents. You’ll have log-ins and accounts for a small number of favoured platforms, and you’ll purchase and play your games through them.

On what?

Imagine a world where shopping for a device to play games on wasn’t a matter of deciding which side of the fanboy fence you stand on – although that will be allowed – but rather, finding the feature set and performance that suits you best.

Some people will want to game exclusively on smartphones; some people will want something larger, like the Vita or 3DS, with more game-friendly interfaces. Some will want a device the size of a laptop, which they feel comfortable working on with a keyboard. Some people will carry two or three or even more devices, ready for any situation.

What if all of these devices could support a particular platform? It’s already possible. You’d have the same persistent online identity on your phone as back home on your couch. You’d see the same beautiful graphics – scaled for portable devices – on both systems, and cloud saves mean you can close one, open the other, and pick up instantly where you left off.

Vita: portable, connected, social

Sony America boss Jack Tretton already sees Vita as fitting into this device-war space.

“When you walk out the door, you say, ‘I gotta have this, I gotta have that.’ It’s wallet, car keys, money, and phone, right? We want, if you’re thinking about entertainment at all, for the Vita to go in there,” he said.

“I don’t carry a laptop anymore. Something like a Blackberry’s perfect for the vast majority of what I need a laptop for. And then I think when it comes to entertainment, you’ll find that Vita will do everything, and maybe do things better, than any other device that you’re using.”

Shopping for a device – be it a big screen display or a phone – becomes like shopping for an Android phone. There are loads of different brands, each sporting numerous handsets; supporting the same platform, but with different feature sets.

This is a thing that is happening. Apple’s iPhones are schmick, it’s true, and you can’t deny they made smartphones an everyday thing, but Android is rapidly gaining ground and market share. Obviously, people like having access to the same software despite their choice of hardware type and manufacturer.

Assent

We’re not the only ones singing this tune. John Carmack, generally considered one of the cleverest chaps in the industry, is keen on the cloud.

“I think cloud gaming will eventually be a significant part of the landscape,” he said recently.

“Consumers have shown over and over again that convenience can often more than offset some quality issues, and there will be significant convenience wins possible there over optical media or digital downloads.

“I think this is inevitable.”

While Carmack acknowledges the pitfalls of going hardware-agnostic, he’s ready to see an end to the console-device divide.

“People’s telephones could be their home console, and it just beams over to the TV set when they’re there and they want that experience. Do we want these separate walled gardens: here’s what we’ve got on our PC, here’s what we’ve got on our console, here’s what we’ve got on our mobile phone?

“There’s at least an argument that you wind up carrying around enough processing power with you to satisfy all of those and you dock them into different things when you go there.”

Crytek, one of the cream of PC developers, expects cloud gaming to be a major thing by 2013. Cevat Yerli says developers already have the skills to deliver streaming content, and are just waiting for internet connections to catch up.

“We saw that by 2013–2015, with the development of bandwidth and household connections worldwide, that it might become more viable then,” he said.

Pat talks to Gaikai boss Dave Perry. Dreamy.

“It’s netcon speeds, not video rendering, that’s letting the side down. It doesn’t take a lot to make a video-based renderer, but what you need is the right infrastructure that is beyond the technology we have. It’s more like cable net providers and communication networks.”

THQ, a company determinedly scraping back relevancy with eyes firmly glues to future trends, is also on board, throwing its lot in with OnLive. CEO Brian Farrell, for example, isn’t at all keen on retaining the current hardware model.

“I am a huge believer in the concept of cloud computing – huge. The concept of lowering the entry barrier to consumers for gamers to get into our games by not having to shell out for the hardware is a tremendous potential opportunity,” he said.

“Why do we need a $1,000 [console]? That’s what these boxes [or] consoles actually cost the manufacturers to make. Why do we need that computing power?”

Industry analyst firm Wedbush Morgan is backing the cloud, too.

“It is not clear to us that OnLive will dominate any time soon, but we are confident that this breakthrough technology will ultimately be widely adopted.

“The technology is quite appealing, and we are confident that OnLive will end up as part of the video game culture some time next decade,” it has stated.

Take home

Whether we like it or not, cloud gaming is the future of the industry. We may see one more hardware cycle to bridge the divide between high-end PCs and today’s ageing hardware, but by the time we reach the end of that one, we’ll have so much power in our pockets that the big black boxes of yore will look laughable.

Why tie yourself to the telly? Why shell out massive cash for an experience restricted to one place? Why not just look forward to an extremely exciting decade ahead of us all?

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61 Comments

  1. HauntaVirus

    Honestly, I hope console gaming dies. It may very well be dead in less than 10 years. I love my xbox and ps3 but I would rather be able to run all my games on one platform(PC). Cloud integration would obviously play a huge part in this and everyone would still make their money. Subscription cost would replace the money lost by not selling hardware.

    For example, Sony would charge a subscription fee for streaming exclusive games. It would be similar to onlive but WAY better. People with archaic computers(or various smart phones/tablets) could play Uncharted 3…how awesome would that be!?

    This would make gaming SO MUCH more accessible!

    #1 4 years ago
  2. aprotosis

    Everyone seems to be jumping all over this cloud concept lately. This is all well and good, but it doesn’t stop the console war. It just shifts the front line and introduces another step in the process.

    Services like OnLive promise a pretty happy look at platform agnosticism for future gamers. What people are either neglecting to look at, or flat out ignoring, is that OnLive is not pulling these bits out of the ether. Sitting in their server farms are game consoles. OnLive is NOT a content platform. At the moment, it only offers PC games even. So even if you can just buy an OnLive system in the future, then they need to have a console ready to dedicate to you. +1 in the console war.

    This has a potential to shift it for only a small amount of time. If the technology picks up soon, then you can bet that MS, Sony, etc will create their own OnLive-like service. Otherwise they will try to get exclusitivy contracts so when you play a multiplat game, it is playing for their console only. Their other option is to make must-own periphreals that the OnLive cannot replicate, for either technological or legal reasons.

    There will be another console war. Heck, Nintendo technically fired the first shot. There will probably even be one after that, cloud gaming or no. Maybe after that… 20 years is a long time to look ahead, and we were all wrong about the flying car

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Espers

    “The Future is now” <== LMAO … NOW MEANS NOW not FUTURE.
    The guy that wrote the article also forgot that SONY PS3 is the Cheapest Blu-ray player too !! :P

    @1 I hate the cloud, I hate changing my VGA for every new game release. Consoles have more options and you can play any time you like without any subscription fees, let alone when the STREAMING company gets hacked, you might lose everything. No Thank you I still prefer OWNING STUFF THAT I PAID FOR !!

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Freek

    Doesn’t make a whole lot of financial sense at this point. You add up all the subsciption fees and the full price of games over the years that you’d be using it and you end up paying just as much as if you would a home console.

    Except due to latency and bandwith issues you get a reduced quality experience. Games simply don’t look as good as if it were to run nativly on your PC or console.
    And with fast paced games like racers and twitch based shooter it gets even worse, wioth the latency actually getting in the way of the gameplay.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. mojo

    dont be fooled:
    cloud gaming is the worst that could ever happen to gaming.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. daytripper

    i want it, i cant wait to be honest, especially with it being easier to play the games you want and an end to console war bullshit.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Dannybuoy

    @1: How would that make gaming more accessible?? It would only work for people with the fastest connections. There are still people in the world who don’t have fast internet connections or even any at all.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. mojo

    well even the fastet connection doenst help u alot if ur router decides to make the 24h reconnect just before ur about to hit the last stroke to defeat the endboss.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. DaveDogg

    And what about the fair usage poilicies the isp’s impose in the uk where you either loose 3/4 of your bandwith because you’ve gone over the download limit or you find yourself with a huge bill at the end of the month depending on which isp your attached to

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Schindet Nemo

    @9 Don’t you Brits have ISPs with flatrates?

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Badger

    I think Cloud Gaming will work, eventually. It will inevitably get to the stage where it will be nearly impossible to tell the difference between a streamed video and a real hardware based experience that we have today.

    But I don’t predict the future to be all about OnLive and Gaikai, Sony and Microsoft are not simply going to just sit back and let them take the whole games industry away from them.

    I think that maybe with the next generation of consoles, we will see them both launch their own cloud gaming platform. It might be something like the ability to play PC games on both a PS3 and Xbox 360 at first, but then maybe they could eventually bring exclusive games over to the other platform for a slightly higher cost or something.

    But maybe there wouldn’t even be exclusives then. If there is the open platform of the PC to develop on, that could eventually reach all console gamers with no need for porting why would they bother working only on one console?

    Basically I think we’ll see PC games playable on both/all consoles in the future and that in turn may increase the amount and quality of PC games being developed in the future.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. aleph31

    Cloud gaming will come, we like or not (in my case, I hate that inevitable future). There are much more benefits for producers, even though we as consumers will be screwed:

    – Problem 1: internet latency (not bandwidth). You will need to have a physical cloud center at 1 or 2 hops from your home. That’s not an easy thing to achieve (see Onlive failing to thrive because of this). We will have second-class-citizen user experiences depending where you live…

    – Problem 2: hardware upgrades. Imagine you have 500 distributed cloud centers with 10.000 machines each. Will you upgrade them from GTX580 to GTXWhateverComesNext? The costs will be astounding, so they will try to keep customers running old hardware as much as they can. We can argue about free market, competitiveness etc., but that’s the typical lure (anti-trust doesn’t work, face it).

    – Problem 3: costs. Games are the most extremes CPU+GPU intensive applications. They will have to pay huge electric bills, hardware will fail much often than on typical cloud computing services, so they will charge you a big amount of money to keep this running. At the end of the day, I think we will be paying much more on average. Also, we will have to support availability of games we will never play (in my case, I can think of Nintendogs, Pokemon B&W, etc). Even hardcore gamers will have to pay for their premium access shit.

    Industry is moving to this because they will make more money from us. But we will have poorer user experience, poorer hardware iterations, and more costs…

    #12 4 years ago
  13. freedoms_stain

    I still favour single platform centered around the PC with developers forming some sort of agreement to support a minimum hardware spec for a guaranteed length of time.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. DaveDogg

    @10 every ISP sells the service with an “up to” speed in the UK, some have an “unlimited download per month” some have a capped service but everyone seemsto have a cap of some sort.

    for instance BT has an alowence per month and if you go over that they throttle your speed back. Sky have an amount per month that if you go over they charge you extra per meg & Virgin sets limits at certain times of day these limits depend on which package you pay for so for instance if you have a 20meg package and download more than 2gig between 9-12am you will be throttled back to 5meg. these are 3 examples but every ISP has this sort of thing in its T’s & C’s in the uk

    #14 4 years ago
  15. mojo

    12:
    exactly this.
    essentialy cloud gaming will be more expensive then what we have now and the experience will be less satisfying.

    mark my words.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. Craymen Edge

    I don’t really care about cloud gaming at this point in time. right now it can’t match the video quality and response time of playing a game on a local machine, not to mention bandwidth caps and traffic shaping of UK ISPs.

    What I’d love is a local solution like OnLive for home networks. To be able to play games on my PC or other systems (located upstairs) streamed over my home network on my big screen (downstairs) would be great.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. MrBubbles

    How’s onLive doing? Terribad?

    How many times will people spell doom and gloom for the console market? Just like the people who continue to perpetuate the myth that “PC GAMING IS DYING!” for over a decade.

    Current ISPs in America (biggest gaming market) will keep this from ever happening within our lifetime, the way they cap the bandwidth and offer like 5mbs as the standard package speaks for itself. I think we’re ranked number 30th-ish on a global scale of internet speeds, lol.

    tldr; ISPs in the biggest market of the game industry will fight this tooth and nail. So will brick and mortar stores to a lesser extent, cloud is nothing but a pipe dream for early investors of the technology at the moment and will not be a threat for PC, console, or handheld gaming within our lifetime.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. G1GAHURTZ

    My cloud is a cumulonimbus.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. Schindet Nemo

    @17

    The US is doing fairly well.
    http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/Images/commentarynews/broadbandspeedchart.jpg

    #19 4 years ago
  20. IL DUCE

    Yeah I don’t trust this shit…lose your internet connection and now you just can’t play multiplayer games, you can’t play any games at all…not to mention a shitty connection will lead to shitty stream quality…and saying it lowers the barrier of entry is incorrect because you’re assuming everyone has a great internet connection and a good enough tv or the ability to pay a sub fee which many parents prob won’t pay for their kids…gaming will not risk losing any of its audience or consumers until the tech is flawless…it may become a big part of gaming but it will definitely take a few years and I think something like digital distribution will become a much larger part before actual cloud gaming does…I think various cloud features will be included in the next console cycle, but not solely cloud gaming and nothing else…because unlike Carmack’s quote, I don’t like sacrificing quality for convenience…I’d rather have the highest quality game I can get, not the most convenient format or method of playing it…

    #20 4 years ago
  21. OlderGamer

    Wow, just wow. I guess people (in the industry anyways) do get it after all.

    Great article, I couldn’t have written it better myself. I have however been talking about Cloud for a long time now. Our hobby doesn’t see a lot of worthwhile game changing ideas or inovations come along too often. Most are just small steps forward and slight tweaks on exsisting ways of doing things.

    But when I first saw Netflix running, I said a similer model would blow the doors off of gaming. And it will.

    A few people will hate the idea. Those are the ones that have shelves of old boxes lined up, and think that by doing so it somehow distinquishes them from the rest of people that just play the games. Its the self indulgent collector mentality. I was like that for a very long time. I own thousands of games, and untill recently had them all on display in my office, den, and living room. Now most of them are in boxes in storage.

    Gaming is about the experience of playing the game, not how much room they take laying around the house. And for the over whelming majority of average Joes and average Janes that currently play games, that is all they are looking for the in the now experience.

    And Onlive works. I use it.

    I understand that some people live in areas that are not yet upto code in terms of streaming “Live” content over the net. I have been saying all gen that is the main reason that so many EU can’t tell the quality difference in online gaming between Live and PSN. Those people are limited by their broadband, and that caps the experience.

    In my house, just yesterday we were streaming two different Netflix movies, playing a game of Rift, and a game of Halo all at the same time. Zero problems with any of it. And all we have is standard Cable, no power/speed/bandwidth boosts(which we could for a few bucks more a month). I am not gloating really, just showing you what your ISP experience should be like in the future.

    If I was a gamer and had crap broadband or content caps or whatever I would be making noise letting gov and companies know that type of stuff was not acceptible. There is more to the internet then just facebook and email checking. Netflix is said to use upto 1/3 of the internet activity in the states. But it only does so because we have the infistructure to carry it.

    I think over time most people will also have the ability to do stuff like that. And gaming via cloud based services will just be an extention of that.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. The Evil Pope

    Consoles are fucked and Nintendo/MS/Sony know it. They have limited time left within the gaming industry and it’s only a matter of time before their demise.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. Kuwabara

    I’m sorry but we will always need consoles in order for competition to exist and go forward. Plus i love that feeling of going to store, buying a game, especially collectors editions, and having that game on my shelf. Evening the act of opening the case is a little special. I dnt want to play pc games, i prefer games that are made for consoles, they are better and more diverse. I dont want onlive experience, i just want to have a console in my room that i can come home to and play, more importantly the single player games. Consoles will be here forever, will never die.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. The Evil Pope

    Kuwabara
    20/06/11, 3:51 pm

    Consoles will be here forever, will never die.

    Delusional much…

    #24 4 years ago
  25. Freek

    “Cloud” services exist today for movies and music, but they haven’t replaced the DVD, Blu-Ray and music market.
    They’ve replaced renting movies and listening to the radio. Modes of consuming entertainment that you diden’t own to begin with.

    Why would gaming be any different? Rent it on Gaikai, but still buy the stuff you want to own and enjoy in high quality.

    #25 4 years ago
  26. Gama_888

    “and so much connectivity that every time you fart it posts a status update and gives you an achievement for it, probably adding a photo of your gas-relieved face to Facebook. It’s amazing.”

    Omg i almost cried in laughter.

    #26 4 years ago
  27. TVs Everywhere

    How’s onLive doing? Terribad?

    How many times will people spell doom and gloom for the console market? Just like the people who continue to perpetuate the myth that “PC GAMING IS DYING!” for over a decade.

    Actually, OnLive is doing very well.

    I think what’s most amusing to me is how hypocritical you’re being. The real question is how many times will people spell doom and gloom for a cloud gaming service that won’t, despite popular belief, crash and burn? Just like the people who continue to perpetuate the myth that PC gamig is dying, there are people like you who continue to perpetuate the myth that OnLive is doing terribly and should crash at any moment.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. deathgaze

    I’m not convinced. The problem with cloud based gaming will always be latency. In other words, when you move the mouse or controls, there will ALWAYS be a perceptible lag while your commands travel from your computer to the server and back. I repeat, it will ALWAYS be this way – at least during our lifetime. The only way around that latency is to somehow circumvent the laws of physics.

    While I agree that this latency would be fine for most people, the hardcore crowd will never accept it. Remember, in order for universal cloud based gaming to happen, everyone has to be on board. Unless they can successfully sell this to the hardcore crowd, it will never happen.

    #28 4 years ago
  29. Phoenixblight

    @28

    Good thing the industry is not based on the hardcore huh? Hardcore are only 3-5% of the actual people that play games the average gamer is in his 30′s and only plays 6-8 hours a week.

    #29 4 years ago
  30. deathgaze

    @29: I respectfully disagree.

    While you might marginalize their numbers, you should never question their influence. The hardcore drive sales with early adoptions, reservations, word of mouth and enthusiasm. Cutting that out of the industry would be a bad idea. In this hypothetical, cloud-based future, you’d be specifically excluding the people that paid to build your industry in the first place.

    #30 4 years ago
  31. Phoenixblight

    @30 Thats weird because the Wii did so well and even surpassed what MS and Sony could dream of and the Wii is not aimed for the hardcore.

    #31 4 years ago
  32. DSB

    I think it’s pretty pathetic to think that your sale somehow counts as more to a publisher, simply because you believe you “mean it” more than anyone else.

    Reality check: Nobody cares, and nobody knows who you are, least of all the publishers. And nobody cares if your sale goes away, as long as they’re replaced by two more.

    It’s worth keeping in mind that cloud gamings strength isn’t just that it’ll appeal to some of the gamers of today, it’s that it’ll be able to draw in people who aren’t gaming today.

    #32 4 years ago
  33. HauntaVirus

    @7
    Good point, internet providers would have to step up big time. They would have to offer 50-100mbps fiber optic for about $50 a month.

    #33 4 years ago
  34. Freek

    People who aren’t traditional gamers aren’t suddenly going to like gaming because of a different method of delivering games.
    They are going to get into gaming because of different content made for them. Wich is what Apple and Nintendo are doing.
    Creating platforms that look stylish and have accesable games for a different audiance via the iPad and Wii family of devices.

    With the amount of money that the iPad and iPhone cost you could make the argument that price isn’t the barier to entry, but it’s about content and branding.

    #34 4 years ago
  35. DSB

    @34 That’s certainly also true, but a subscription to a cloud gaming service is going to cost you the same as a 6 year downpayment on an iPad or iPhone.

    And that simply makes a world of difference. If you only have to pay 10 dollars a month to play games running at the highest settings, without worrying about hardware or software costs, then that’s going to be extremely appealing to a lot of people.

    Especially in the lower echelons of societies around the world, it means that people can suddenly afford to game. Brands mean nothing to people with a tight economy. It’s the same as Netflix, it’s cheaper and more convenient, it can appeal to a far bigger market, and that sort of thing sells.

    #35 4 years ago
  36. TVs Everywhere

    @35: Exactly. If you look at gaming from a non-gamer’s point of view, it’s extremely uninviting.

    “So I heard of that one game from this commercial. How do I play it? Where do I buy it? So I go to Wal-Mart and see it in the case, but then what do I need? What? A $300 machine just to play this?”

    It doesn’t seem ridiculous at all to any of us reading this site because we’ve been accustomed to it for decades, but to many people the idea of buying something for $300 just so you can spend $60 more PER game sounds ridiculous. The current barrier of entry is just too high.

    People, of course, are going to argue that the Wii did very well, but here’s the thing: non-gamers didn’t think about the Wii the way we think about consoles. They didn’t think about it as a platform, but rather as “that Wii Sports machine”. Like those novelty “gaming” devices from Wal-Mart that have literally one game and you hook it up to your TV. And the proof is in the numbers: attach rates for the Wii have been abysmal since day 1.

    What OnLive could do is take that barrier of entry out for non-gamers. You no longer need $300 games just to have the “priviledge” of paying $60 per game, you just pay for the damn game itself and have at it. All they need to do is drop the price of the microconsole to like $30 and heavily market the service when the next generation of consoles start coming out and they WILL have a shitton of sales.

    #36 4 years ago
  37. Freek

    People who aren’t interested in paying 60 dollars for a game and 300 for a console also have no interest in playing Crysis 2 or the latest Need for Speed game.

    They’re playing Angry Birds and Farmville and Wii Sports. The games that interest them at the price that interests them.
    That market is already being served and served verry well with social and casual games that already cost verry little.

    So what you’re left with is the person that does want to play hardcore games but has never saved up any money to afford them but somehow does have a high end internet connection, that doesn’t seem like allot of people.

    #37 4 years ago
  38. DSB

    1. You’re dealing with new tech.

    2. The current infrastructure is barely able to support it right now.

    In 5 years time, both the requirements of the technology and the infrastructure to deliver it will be far greater than any of us would think.

    Regardless of how you choose to view it, even the person who could care less about videogames, would be far more inclined to try them out for ten dollars, than he would be when faced with having to form an immediate commitment of several thousand dollars in the long run.

    For a lot of business people, that’s a very attractive notion.

    There’s no rule that says that the market should simply look at things like Angry Birds and Farmville and go “Oh, that’s ultimate, we’d better not try to move this forward” – I’m pretty sure most people playing stuff like Farmville realize that it’s retarded, and would be willing to play something with slightly more depth, and more rewarding of their time.

    #38 4 years ago
  39. deathgaze

    @31: And how many people actually take the Wii seriously? Even Nintendo admits that it made mistakes in going exclusively for the casual gamer. And in it’s attempts to bring gaming to a more “mass” audience, the content has suffered for it – I don’t think anyone could credibly argue that the quality of games on the Wii has been exceptional outside of the games that Nintendo itself has released. I think it’s kinda funny that you try to use the Wii to make your point, as the Wii is a textbook case of how NOT to handle your platform if you want all the major 3rd party games to be on it.

    No, all sales are not the same. Some will build brand loyalty, others will not. Sure, you can make the case that Bad Mutha’truckas (or whatever shovel-ware game you choose) made a gazillion dollars. But I can guarantee you that it did not lead to any brand loyalty and it certainly didn’t do jack to advance the medium. However, sales of games like Killzone, Resistance, Halo and Gears of War DO build brand loyalty (and may even advance the medium). Even multiplatform games like Call of Duty and Battlefield build brand loyalty.

    The thesis behind this article is that we will all benefit from better games and more people to play with by making a monolithic gaming platform. That may well be the case. But trying to make the case that the platform will be cloud-based misses the point. It’s intentionally exclusionary precisely because of the latency problem. Besides, folks other than hard core gamers might also have a problem with the latency. And if you can’t get hardcore gamers to play your game online in a competitive fashion, what chance do you honestly think that you’ll have to get the casual player anyways?

    Furthermore, there seem to be conflicting opinions in the comments here. Some people think OnLive is doing fine. Others think that it’s not. Let’s clear the air a bit: NO ONE KNOWS. OnLive has yet to EVER release any sales or profitability statements publicly. The fact that financial information is so hard to come by is revealing in and of itself. If they’re doing good, they’d have certainly tooted their horn by now. Especially since buyout rumors concerning OnLive make the rounds in the game industry almost monthly. Sorry friends – smart money says that they’re either not doing so hot or are only barely profitable.

    Besides all that, getting the Big Three to give up their slices of the pie is easier said than done. What financial incentive does Nintendo. Microsoft or Sony have to embrace cloud gaming? None. Even taking a loss on the console like Sony or Microsoft did early this generation, it’s still far more profitable to be the gatekeeper. This is likely the reason that some major company hasn’t come along and bought the service outright yet.

    In summation, cloud based gaming sounds like a great idea on paper and it may well happen on a massive scale eventually. However, a simple reality check reveals a number of small, but crucial, fatal flaws in the idea as presented today. Indeed, much like communism, what works on paper will not necessarily work in the real world.

    #39 4 years ago
  40. OlderGamer

    DSB sometimes, my friend, I swear your in my head.

    Well said on several points.

    #40 4 years ago
  41. Phoenixblight

    @39

    EA, Dell, Google, AMazon, SOny, Microsoft are all investing into Cloud systems its only a matter of time. Believe whatever you want about the power of the “hardcore”. This is the future. It not only opens up doors to people that haven’t played a game because all you need is internet that supports above 3mb which any ISP easily gives that in the states.

    It also has other benefits no need for the lastest hardware or software to play it and the biggest bonus is it slows piracy because there is no way to pirate the game through these CLoud servers unless you have direct access to the server. You will see it more in the next gen systems.

    #41 4 years ago
  42. deathgaze

    @41: Sure, everyone has those systems in place, but saying that they’ll be used for services similar to OnLive is a stretch. If it were really that simple (or even profitable, for that matter), we’d likely already be hearing about it from the major vendors. As I said earlier, there’s no financial incentive for Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony to operate such a service.

    Yes, it does have a lower barrier to entry and it may well be the wave of the future. I never denied that. But the latency problem combined with the other mitigating factors I mentioned (but you failed to acknowledge) make it a harder sell than you seem to be admitting. The bottom line is that the tech just isn’t there yet and it very well may never be.

    #42 4 years ago
  43. OlderGamer

    PB +1 as well.

    So many people today put too much time worrying about what logo said piece of hardwar displays on the screen when we boot up our hardware. Really it doesn’t matter. Its about the games.

    I suspect that each major player will have their own Cloud Severs to stream from. And some companies will try hard to change the direction of Cloud so that they can retain some degree of control over money and content.

    But really once the genie is out of the bottle its gonna be hard to go back. Why pay for XB Live Gold, 300usd-500usd for a system, AND 60usd to be able to play a game? Why not look into something better? The current biz models have put many out of the biz all together.

    Its too expensive to make games and too expensive to buy em.

    Something needs to give really.

    As it is now the overwhelming majority of high quality game releases are being handled by a very few companies. Why? Again its cost. One game can break your studio. We lack inovation. No one is risk taking. We are drowning in Me Toos and franchise sequels.

    I say open things up a bit. Even the playing field. A great game is a great game, because it is great – not because it has a multi million usd campgain to convince us all we need to buy it.

    And by taking the control away from the MS, Sony, EA, and Actis of the world we can once again place the importance of a game on the actual game itself. I believe Cloud will do that.

    How?

    Lets say your name is G1gahurtz, your a subscriber of Steam(running on PS4, the service costs 20usd/month). It comes with the ability to play 343 games. Of course G1Ga loves his CoD, so he is playing CoD Newest Warfare. But also included in that list of 343 games, all for the same price is a new Battlefield game. So he tries it at no extra cost. And bang! He now understands that OG was right all of these years, and that Battlefield 5: Fruit Loop Brigade is amazing!

    Sure I know its a joke, and I know G1GA is a good sport, but the point is that no one gamer will be locked into just trying/playing one game. We won’t have to make a choice between flavor A or flavor B. It opens things up considerably. It would be the essance of competition of games. It means that a game like Dust or the new Indie Mech game could stand a chance against the newest EA or Acti release. And it could very well mean that Acti/EA will have to offer better experiences to compete.

    If multi games are offered in the same service, we will be more likly to at least sample different games.

    #43 4 years ago
  44. Phoenixblight

    It is the future I am not saying it will happen next year or anytime soon we still have at least another generation of consoles and the next gen consoles will use a similar system. Sony has started using cloud with their music service and Microsoft has their cloud service (Azure) too its only the next step to put it with use with gaming. We still have a ways to go with the internet infrastructure but you will see it as a service through their consoles most likely for those that do have the bandwidth to support it.

    #44 4 years ago
  45. chronoss2

    completly useless and stupid.. for the simple reason that you can’t play games if you dont have internet.

    stupid to think this is the future because it isn’t and it will never be.

    #45 4 years ago
  46. DSB

    Because the internet is just a fad, chronoss2?

    Look at where computers were 100 years ago, and look at where they are today. You’re saying we can never make the internet (or any future evolution of it) so fast that the lag becomes completely irrelevant, and certainly so in terms of streaming game content?

    That’s like saying you can’t make a faster CPU, when we’ve essentially multiplied the power of those by several millions since the first one was invented.

    You’ll be surprised, that’s a certainty.

    @43 I think the fundamental wisdom you’re skirting around is that progress is always met with resistance. People don’t “want” progress.

    Not to get into too much philosophy, but ultimately I think there’s an innate cowardice to us. People want to stay exactly where they are, they almost never want to move forward, like a mule before a stream.

    In terms of gaming that’s just as true, look at what happens if you challenge dedicated servers or LAN functionality in games. People really hunker down as soon as someone tries to improve on the present.

    #46 4 years ago
  47. deathgaze

    @46: I think you’re getting bandwidth controlled with speed. Bandwidth will continue to increase due to technological advancement, sending download speeds into the stratosphere. Think of your internet connection as a pipe – the larger the pipe, the faster you can download files. However, the speed at which things move through the pipe will never change. An electrical signal transmitted from one side of the planet to the other will always take the exact same amount of time to get to the other side (assuming consistent network conditions and copper wiring). That’s *physics*. An electrical signal can only travel at a certain percentage of the speed of light.

    Unless there were a cloud server installed at every street corner (out of the question at the moment) or the is transmitted on a pure fiber network with NO switching, there will always be perceptible lag in cloud based gaming. There’s NO way around it.

    #47 4 years ago
  48. DSB

    @47 “Assuming consistent network conditions and copper wiring”.

    There’s your problem. The system we know today is temporary.

    I realize what lag is and why it’s there, but it’s by no means a constant, nor is it even neccesary with what we know today. It just so happens that it’s the infrastructure we built, and that means we have to deal with that until we replace it with something better.

    You seem to think that technology will never move forward, and I don’t see why you’d ever think that. The internet is not going to stay the same, the delivery of it is not going to stay the same, and the limitations as a result are not going to stay the same. It will all be replaced by better solutions, as with everything else we’ve ever invented.

    The internet is roughly 20-30 years old. When the CPU was that age, it took half a warehouse to power a calculator.

    There is a way around it, there will always be a way around it, and it’ll be here sooner than you think. I guarantee it.

    You’re looking at today and going “Bah, humbug” instead of looking at what’s around the corner. Even in your own post you suggested a perfectly viable method of reducing lag to an irrelevant factor. Doesn’t that tell you something?

    #48 4 years ago
  49. Telepathic.Geometry

    I think that Onlive will some day be the norm, but I think it’s gonna take a bit longer than analysts expect. Not just because of internet speeds, but I think there’s a psychological barrier for customers who want to know that they possess their game.

    In other words, the success of OnLive will not hinge so much on technological achievement as good marketing to get that consumer confidence. IMO anyway.

    #49 4 years ago
  50. Phoenixblight

    @49

    It also has a horrible catalog very few Triple A games on there and only a handful of publishers. Onlive is just trying to jump into something that is too early and they won’t get the support to be a platform. If anything they are just a stepping stone until the big dogs get in the mix and do their own things.

    #50 4 years ago
  51. Telepathic.Geometry

    Well, right now OnLive is probably just trying to take the hit and get people used to the idea of OnLive, and gain a little brand awareness and get the concept out there. The same as the original XBOX was just to let people know, hey, we’re a gaming platform now. Accept us.

    #51 4 years ago
  52. Phoenixblight

    No EA or Activision, they won’t get very far without the two top publishers.

    #52 4 years ago
  53. TVs Everywhere

    @37,

    So because some people aren’t interested, those people will NEVER be interested?

    Why do you think so many non-gamers are playing on FarmVille and Angry Birds? Demand for these games didn’t just materialize out of thin air. Anything that’s successful is experimental before it’s successful. Zynga didn’t know that their games would be played my millions BEFORE they made games.

    You ask why anyone who isn’t a gamer would play the latest Need for Speed game, I ask “has the industry actually TRIED selling NFS by itself to non-gamers”? The answer is no. To play any main NFS title (that is, a title that’s not a spinoff of some sort), you need to buy a machine, whether it is a 360, PS3, or PC.

    You say only the hardcore who already buy dedicated gaming hardware are only interested in Crysis or NFS, but how do you know this? I’d be willing to bet the biggest single reason why the gaming industry isn’t twice as big as it is right now is due to the barrier of entry. I sure as hell know that if I ever wanted to get into any hobby that required a multi-hundred dollar piece of equipment before I could even THINK about doing anything, there’d be no way in hell I would ever look into that. That’s the current state gaming is in. It’s a walled garden with broken glass on the fence. You can’t even think about console/PC gaming unless you’ve spent hundreds in a system or hardware. It’s part of the reason why smartphone gaming is all the rage now: because people have been able to play games using something they already have.

    #53 4 years ago
  54. oreogod

    Im having a hard time seeing how cloud gaming is going to be a good sell to the technophiles of the world. People love their technology, but people don’t love their technology so much that they are going to shell booku dollars for something that has no real world substance.

    Just like there will always be PCs of some sort I wager there will always be consoles of some sort as well maybe getting smaller and smaller due to digital distribution. Especially if free WiFi becomes more prevalent in all areas of the world then all peoples can download games and the idea of needing CDs/DVDs/etc will legitimately not be an issue.

    You have to remember though, in the end, people do not like big breaks with what has come before. It can be new but has to be wrapped in certain conventions of the past to be effective. Real change takes a while when you are talking about society.

    And this doesn’t even include how to have true differentiation between consoles in regards to true cloud gaming.

    #54 4 years ago
  55. chronoss2

    @46 : 100 years ago ? why not 4 because that’s what we are talking about. When i hear people say apple and online will kill everything it makes me smile. The home consoles are not ready to die, in 100 years maybe as you said but certainly not in the near future.

    Peace!

    #55 4 years ago
  56. Dralen

    I just don’t like the idea of my gaming world being tied to the internet. I may sound weird saying this; but I like the idea that if the world suddenly comes to an end (Zombie Apocalypse and Whatnot), I could fire up a generator and hook up my xbox, PS3 or PC and still play my games LOL.

    #56 4 years ago
  57. OlderGamer

    @ Dralen

    Go with a NES, SNES, or Mega Drive. they will last longer ;)

    #57 4 years ago
  58. marketwork145

    Sony’s Vista is very interesting for gaming.

    ISA computers @ Interloper,Inc.

    #58 2 years ago
  59. Joe_Gamer

    Everyone acts like the “cloud” is a new thing…”The wave of the future!” but it’s not, it’s been around for decades and it is excellent for some things but “gaming” isn’t one of them. Music, movies, books, data, these are all consumption media, gaming is an interactive media.

    For many people input lag will never reach an acceptable level! You can’t change the laws of physics, cloud gaming can NEVER be as responsive as local gaming.

    The hardware HAS to be paid for at some point:
    PC gamers pay up front but have the cheapest software.
    Console gamers pay half up front and subsidize the rest with higher software prices.
    Cloud gamers will have to subsidize the entire hardware cost through their software rentals.

    Would you prefer to buy your car upfront with cash, finance/lease over a few years, or rent your car for a high daily rate whenever you want to go somewhere?

    Paying up front is always cheapest because it involves less companies and NO RISK for those businesses, when companies subsidize their hardware they always have the risk of not making their money back on a particular customer so they have to increase the profit per user to mitigate that risk which results in higher costs for most customers as they are paying to subsidize the “I only buy one game a year” customer.

    All of these payment models are viable and depending on your software usage any of them could be the “best” for you, but saying one model will replace the other two is foolish, it’s not technical barriers that resulted in this striation, it’s good old fashion finance/risk management and market segregation.

    #59 2 years ago
  60. nollie4545

    Ha ha ha, spot the ill-informed pretending to be informed.

    Of course cloud gaming will eventually make a lot of entertainment hardware redundant. You mention input lag, and claim it will NEVER be reduced to a level gamers will accept? Errr, guess what, there is already lag in games, only it is hidden so the player cannot see it.

    Eventually communication networks will be much much faster, if you want to see the pace of change in this sector, look at the rate of progress in 5G mobile technology. The ability to send gigs of data a second through thin air.

    If the nay sayers were to be believed, we would still be living in houses with candles for lights and burning wood in fireplaces. They said electricity wouldn’t work, that DVDs would never work, that computers would never work. Wake up.

    The potential for cloud computing and cloud gaming are insane. Before long the idea of an office workstation will be demolished. Companies will give having to ever buy another piece of cheap and nasty dust collecting hardware ever again, a monitor with an internet connection, a keyboard and mouse and thats your lot. No worries about hardware being damaged or stolen, or data being lost. Simply pay a cheap monthly fee that lets you access your stuff 5 days a week and go home on a Friday afternoon whilst your provider gives that computing power to another consumer.

    One day Xbox live will be a service, you pay a weekly/monthly subscription with a cable running into your TV, and a single controller with the hard work being done by big mother computer which never breaks down, never gives the red ring of death and is never out of date beyond 6 months.

    Before long TV, music and videos will all go the same way. DVDs, CDs will all be a thing of the past. Whats the point of having any of that crap cluttering up your house if your TV/Hifi/home entertainment system can play whatever you want, on demand? This stuff is already happening. Satellite TV already lets you record and watch whatever you want, only the storage is local. Before long that will move to the cloud, too, its just a matter of time.

    The only thing stopping this from happening right now is the global telecomms infrastructure, mostly based on cable and shitty copper wires if you’re unfortunate enough to live in the UK.

    We have stonking CPUs and ridiciulous 6GB/sec solid state drives in computers now being held up by the stupid drip drip drip of a leaking tap as data tries to enter your house down a piss weak broadband line. There is no reason you can’t have totally equal upload and download speeds, of ridiculous proportions, only ISPs won’t uncork their networks or invest in them to upgrade the service. Well before long information/media providers are going to get fed up with that and probably put their own networks in, and now microwave communication is giving them a cheap and easy way of doing it.

    #60 2 years ago
  61. Joe_Gamer

    @60 You call other people uninformed but then you use WIRELESS speed as your example for how cloud gaming is actually viable?

    5G has been reliably tested to 1.056 Gbit/s….to a distance of up to 2 kilometers. Do you live within 2 kilometers of an onlive server? Supposedly it’s hit 10 Gbps/s in some lab using 24 antennas but no mention is made of distance, I’m betting 50 ft or so.

    Fiber optic is good for over 14 Tbit/s btw so GTFO with your wireless bullshit. Even the speed of light is NOT instant, and every repeater, router, switch, hub, and patch panel that a packet hits will also introduce latency so distance becomes an exponentially increasing source of lag.

    Input lag is measured in fucking milliseconds, common controller lag is about 30ms, when I was testing On-live(yep, that’s right, this network admin has actually fucking used the service) I was getting over 250ms of input lag and I’m a stones throw away from their DC server. Some things are just NOT FUCKING POSSIBLE. You can play plenty of games Online but they literally cannot be as responsive as a local game.

    #61 2 years ago

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