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Square Enix: Cloud "instrumental" to next gen

Worldwide technology director Julien Merceron explains why the cloud is a game changer

In an exclusive interview Square Enix's worldwide technology director Julien Merceron praised cloud storage and cloud computing, and said platform holders must include it in the generation of consoles.

"When it comes down to future hardware platforms, and official home consoles, I think its going to be instrumental," he told GamesIndustry.biz

"I think it has tremendous benefits. I don't see any good reason not to investigate for platform holders how they could actually think about cloud storage and cloud computing for their next platforms."

He sees huge opportunities not just for designers and asynchronous game play, but as a way of avoiding costly hardware updates altogether.

"If you imagine platform that would basically have cloud computing capabilities, for example, then why would you eventually need to change the hardware? Because actually what you then just do is basically change the back end to be more powerful."

In his interview he also spokes about the ways the cloud could change game play, and connect separate devices in ways that go beyond simple Gaikai style game streaming.

"I think it's going to change also the way players interact together, and the way NPCs are designed," he suggested.

"You could potentially have NPCs in your game that play like your friends, or like some of your friends. So I think cloud storage will actually have a huge impact in terms of gameplay, game design, artificial intelligence, etcetera. It's also going to allow players to play an experience almost on any platform, if they want to, and that's a big changer both for the business and for the games."

Merceron is attending Cloud Gaming Europe, which starts today in London.

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Latest comments (19)

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Of course, it's all good and well until something happens to that cloud that's not covered under the EULA...

Ongoing bitching on my part aside, if it helps show that we don't NEED new consoles every few years and EVERY gamer can have access to this magical "cloud" of wonder (which is impossible at the current time in areas where people still can't get great or steady online connections, making multiplayer a no-go for a small majority), sure, put all those nickels in that machine and pull that lever...
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Antony Cain Lecturer in Computer Games Design, Sunderland College4 years ago
It's probably just because I haven't had my caffeine yet but when I first saw the article title I read it as Cloud the character, rather than cloud computing.

It would've restored my faith in FF games at least ;)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Antony Cain on 17th January 2012 8:43am

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Holy cats, I just realized that. Good thing this is an industry board or "news" would be all over the internet about a FF7 remake..
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Show all comments (19)
Tom Keresztes Programmer 4 years ago
Cloud is good. Assuming its going to be a way to move your content between providers, and not going to end up with different products supporting different providers. You'll then have not only the fragmentation of online shops but cloud providers, too.
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Carl Hudson Studying Computer Science, University of Adelaide4 years ago
The net is not connected equally. Cloud = fragmentation.
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Fred Skoler Business Strategy, Design, Engagement, Sweepstakes, Contests, Executive Producer 4 years ago
When there is a stable mechanism that delivers consistent play, on every device accessing a game, then the consumer will be happy. Call it the "cloud," but more importantly plan for it to exist because it will be here ...eventually.
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CK Hicks VFX Artist/Writer 4 years ago
@Anthony - I did the exact same thing. What really interests me is the potential for cross-platform resources to be stored in one space. I don't like the idea of having game-critical data "in the cloud" for reasons Greg mentioned, but the idea still has some interesting ramifications...
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Rogier Voet IT Consultant 4 years ago
It can potentialy leed to a lower cost subscription based console you don't buy a console but a service but as large parts of the world don't have access to stable high speed internet would they choose a tiered model? So basic hardware for normal games and basic model + cloud for more advanced titles?
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Julius Malco Freelance Blogger 4 years ago
I agree with Carl's fragmentation comment. Not everyone in the world has access to decent DSL or even FiberOp internet.

What happens when an ISP has problems that cuts access off to hundreds or thousands of users?

I personally feel that a traditional standalone console is still the better approach. Leveraging the cloud for distribution and storage on the other hand make a whole lot more sense.
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Joe Winkler trained retail salesman, Expert4 years ago
Cloud Strife.. read the same (FF7) thing. Cloud is an opportunity for the good and the evil equally. The major problem would be (like others mentioned before) areas with the lack of a good connection. Not to forget the chances "hackers" (such a common, wrong description) would get if they could get a backdoor to those cloud servers.
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Roberto Bruno Curious Person 4 years ago
They still don't get it.
Cloud computing is interesting in terms of potential advanced services for customers, etc.
Cloud gaming on the other hand is just a clumsy mess, it simply doesn't work well, as anyone into games who tried it could easily tell. No sane person able to afford a computer or console would (and should) pick a laggy, unresponsive, ugly-looking stream of data over the advantages of software running on locally, on physical hardware.

Like with social gaming, looks like virtually anyone in the industry these days is drinking the kool-aid and yelling that this will change everything.
My bet, on the other hand, is that financially this will be another bubble ready to burst.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Roberto Bruno on 17th January 2012 5:34pm

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@Robert Bruno aren't you really just niggling over the ETA?
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Gregore Candalez Journalist and Account Manager, FD Com.4 years ago
"He spokes"?

Anyway. I think it's all fun and (literally) games, until something happens... I mean, cloud computing, cloud storaging and, especially, cloud gaming is theoretically perfect, but it isn't viable everywhere. In Japan, you can have very cheap and very decent broadband connections of 128mbps, whilst in other countries, 10mbps is expensive as hell. Said that, companies cannot exclude these markets, which represent a considerable share of their revenue.

And I sincerely doubt the whole world will soon enjoy decent internet velocities that are cheap and reliable. Also, being 24/7 connected to the internet can be very annoying.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
Apple does not open stores to sell iPads in the Brazilian rain forest and the same will happen to cloud. It is a niche product which might gain some traction, but the amount of hype cloud service providers try to create and the market share they so far gained tells you all you have to know.

I doubt cloud will play a big role in the next generation. It is an ok feature, if it is free and you are always connected and if you move between locations and platforms your play on a lot. But those are quite a few ifs and that is not taking into account the desire of hardware companies to sell to every user and not have the users access a cloud where the hardware resources are pooled and their efficiency optimized. It also does not take into account the desire of companies to charge for cloud services. Once you pay, the service better not have any jank.
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Jeffrey Kesselman CTO, Nphos4 years ago
I love the land of theory where everything works.

Say it with me... L.A.T.E.N.C.Y and B.A.N.D.W.I.D.T.H.

There's a reason why we have both clients and servers.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Kesselman on 17th January 2012 9:17pm

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Jeffrey Kesselman CTO, Nphos4 years ago
Kesselman's Slightly Sarcastic Dictionary defines a cloud as:

"A mass of vapor created primarily by hot air."

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Kesselman on 17th January 2012 9:20pm

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Delport Williams4 years ago
Certainly a very interesting topic and it's pretty clear that it's going to happen sooner rather than later and all the better for it because the game industry could do with a paradigm shift because piracy and game development costs had taken their toll on the game industry.
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Ari Aumala mobile development, usability/quality 4 years ago
Cloud gaming, once it becomes reality, is the killer of console. There all the processing is done in the cloud, and your 'console' is just a tv and keypad - zero processing power needed on the client end.
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Roberto Bruno Curious Person 4 years ago
@Klaude Thomas: Uhm. No, I'm not?
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