Close
Are you sure? Are you sure you want to report this comment? I understand, report it. Cancel

Not A Cloud In Sight

Not A Cloud In Sight

Tue 12 Mar 2013 10:33am GMT / 6:33am EDT / 3:33am PDT
HardwarePublishingDevelopment

The sinful past and hopeful present of the slowest revolution in gaming

Some revolutions take time. Four years after OnLive and Gaikai intensified a discussion that had already been going for at least half a decade, the idea that the cloud will be a vital aspect of the industry has started to lose momentum. Services like Netflix and Spotify prove what a disruptive and consumer-friendly force the cloud can be when applied to entertainment content, but its place in gaming still feels very much in the future, always a few years away, just beyond the boundaries of our bandwidth.

If the line-up of Cloud Gaming Europe's 2013 conference is a valid reference point, the contemporary landscape of cloud gaming is defined by vaguely familiar names: Ubitus, CiiNow, Transgaming, T5 Labs, G-Cluster. Most of these companies pre-date the current generation of consoles. A few have been chipping away at cloud gaming for more than a decade. Almost none of them are what you might call a household name. With one clear exception.

Thanks to a noisy entrance, a huge marketing spend and a spectacularly abrupt wake-up call, OnLive has shifted from cloud gaming's poster-child to its chief cautionary tale in little more than a year. Very few sessions on the conference schedule manage to conclude without at least one mention of its name, and precious few of those mentions constitute praise, or even constructive criticism. There is a sense that, rather than bring the idea of cloud gaming to the masses, the eventual collapse and subsequent resurrection of OnLive actually had the opposite effect, destroying its own progress.

"People get caught up in, 'this doesn't work today, for me,' rather than thinking about how these technologies grow"

Bruce Grove, OnLive

OnLive's Bruce Grove disagrees. Granted, the company's general manager for the UK is unlikely to encourage a dismissive attitude among his peers, but Grove believes that they, like the press, exist in a bubble. For a few weeks, the implosion at OnLive was one of the biggest talking points in the industry, the source from which dozens of news stories and innumerable tweets flowed. But it's not the sort of news that passes the high walls around the industry's perimeter. OnLive didn't go offline for a single day. For its admittedly small group of customers, the lights were always on, and have remained on to this very day.

"We were the first to market, and I think we're still the only company offering AAA titles direct to consumers. People like to treat us as some kind of whipping boy, but really, we have achieved a huge amount," says Grove, with the practiced ease of a man often called to defend the sins of the past. "OnLive never dropped its service. We worked really hard behind the scenes to keep things running. We'd spent years trying to educate people about why the cloud was so good for gaming, and the last thing we wanted to do was destroy that perception."

To be frank, the perception of OnLive within the games industry has been a lot better, and the fact that Grove is unwilling to discuss any user figures suggests that the service's "core loyal following" hasn't grown by a significant amount. But if Grove's opinions accurately represent those of his employer, the new OnLive is an altogether more pragmatic and patient company than the one that slipped into the abyss under the auspices of Steve Perlman. The cloud, Grove says, is creeping into mass culture more and more every week, and OnLive is ready to play the long game.

2

Bruce Grove, UK general manager, OnLive

"The key for [our] following is convenience - not worrying about updates, and being able to just switch on and start playing. But who's the Spotify audience? Who's the Netflix audience? Or BBC iPlayer?

"Around the same time that cloud gaming started to make some noise in the U.S., Netflix launched its streaming service. Now, here was a very successful DVD rental service that, to a small handful of people, offered SD video and a back-catalogue of a few thousand titles, most of which weren't really that interesting. Everybody said it was stupid, that it would never go anywhere. But two years later, Netflix has a huge streaming catalogue, it's high definition, it's 5.1 surround sound, and it has a much, much larger audience. The same thing happened with the iPlayer.

"People get caught up in, 'this doesn't work today, for me,' rather than thinking about how these technologies grow."

Speaking to the attendees of the Cloud Gaming Europe conference, it's clear that OnLive's initial decision to target AAA gamers is regarded as a decisive factor in its downfall. Superficially, it made sense: streaming AAA games from remote servers is a cutting-edge concept, so why not target the part of the audience that defines itself by proximity to that cutting-edge? But by targeting core gamers, OnLive was trying to convert the audience with the most searching questions and the highest standards to a technology powered by values like accessibility and flexibility. OnLive fell short in the disciplines they most valued, and excelled in areas where they were happy to accept a little compromise. It may be counter-intuitive, but the logical first stop for cloud gaming should have been the people that scarcely know about technology at all.

"The cloud gaming industry needs a horizontal architecture. Without that this industry will not reach 100 million users"

Peter Relan, Agawi

"The family audience wants a casual, social kind of gaming, and that sort of gaming is not constrained like AAA console," says Peter Relan, co-founder of the cloud-gaming start-up, Agawi. "For two years, Agawi has been streaming those games to millions of users [via its Cloud Play service], and I've never seen friction with that. That section is very amenable, but OnLive went after the other extreme: hardcore gamers, who are the most difficult to please. They will compare you to their current experience on console.

"I don't think Netflix would have succeeded if it had focused on people who love going to see movies at the cinema. They were never going to get those people. It was an accessibility and convenience play for those who say, 'I'd rather give up the HD experience to watch my movies anywhere at any time."

Winning over the AAA gamers involved a "bits and bytes" conversation that didn't flatter OnLive's service, and probably wouldn't have been necessary with a more casual audience. Relan is convinced of one thing: the market doesn't want technical specs and explanations; it wants products. If something works, it can only be harmful to spend time explaining the processes involved. To use Relan's analogy, neither the person making the toaster nor the person buying the toaster spend any time thinking about electricity.

"They're not necessarily even capable of that, and why should they be? In cloud gaming, the consumer, and even the content provider, must be isolated from those details. That's Agawi's job."

3

Peter Relan, CEO, Agawi

When it comes to online technology, Peter Relan has seen more than most. He introduces himself to the conference crowd as a "networking guy," but that's too loose a term. Relan has been based in Silicon valley for the more than 30 years. He was an ARPANET researcher back in the Seventies, he co-developed one of the earliest iterations of video-on-demand while at Oracle in 1993, and he helped found the incubator that spun out OpenFeint and CrowdStar. From PC to online to mobile to social, one thing held true through every cycle of boom and bust.

"It takes two or three tries to bring the knowledge and the wisdom to do it right," he says. "If OnLive had got it right, I'd have been shocked."

OnLive fundamentally misunderstood the potential of the cloud for gaming, putting the most important leap in accessibility since the foundation of the world wide web at the service of a niche market with a rarefied taste in products. In Relan's view, it was hugely ambitious in the wrong direction, targeting a market of tens of millions rather than the hundreds of millions captured by successful cloud platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify. "Who's happy with a 10 million user market?" Relan marvels. "That's not even the size of a small European country. We have global markets here, and global scale."

The contradiction is that OnLive tried to build a vertical structure for cloud gaming. It had to do everything, from assembling and maintaining the data centres, to signing content deals, to providing a good service to the consumer.

"It doesn't scale," says Relan. "$100 million isn't enough if you're going to do the vertical business. The vertical businesses of today are the iPhones. It takes Apple, it takes Google, maybe Microsoft, to build those businesses. They cost billions of dollars. It's just fundamentally flawed.

"Past attempts at building cloud gaming haven't worked because the capital expenditure required to build this model isn't feasible. Everything is proprietary here. It's expensive. It's highly local, because it's a data centre intensive business and latency is a real issue. To get global coverage, you need data centres all over the world."

In his talk at Cloud Gaming Europe, Relan made the persuasive argument that, for cloud gaming to become a mass market proposition, it needs the sort of horizontal architecture that comprises the compute cloud - where companies like Amazon and Rackspace sell and rent the servers that support a huge number of web and mobile apps. The compute cloud is open, it's inexpensive, it's globally available, and it's been accessible to developers of all budgets for almost five years.

4

"Cloud very specifically means elasticity, not just being in the internet. Don't confuse the cloud with just having a bunch of servers in a data centre somewhere," says Relan. "There was no cloud in cloud gaming. That's the reality. That's why we've struggled. We've been operating for two years on the thesis that the cloud gaming industry needs a horizontal architecture. Without that this industry will not reach 100 million users."

Relan believes that we have arrived at the "inflection point" for cloud gaming. The next two years will herald the emergence of a similar platform to the compute cloud, but based on high-performance GPUs. And, as is often the case with impassioned executives, he has a dog in the fight: Agawi True Cloud, which will offer content creators a choice of server architectures built on Nvidia's Kepler GPUs. With a minimum performance target of 720p resolution at 30 fps with less than 100 milliseconds latency, Agawi True Cloud will cost 39 cents per user hour, per stream. With the release of Nvidia's Maxwell processors in 2014, the price should drop below 20 cents.

"We strongly believe it's about new and different experiences: How to use this technology to go beyond the kind of experiences you can have on existing platforms"

Julien Merceron, Square Enix

"This year and next year are Cloud Gaming 2.0," he says. "I think that in five years we won't even think about it any more. It'll be like Spotify or Netflix. It'll just be the way it is."

Agawi and similar companies may prove to be successful, but what that means for games is less clear. To date, cloud gaming has essentially meant streaming games-on-demand, but that really sits somewhere in the middle of a much broader spectrum of possibilities: background downloads, active and passive spectating, instantaneous cross-platform play, a new lease of life for the back-catalogue of every content creator in the industry, and a degree of elasticity that will ably support a wider variety of business models than ever before - full releases, micro-rentals, free-to-play, subscription services, you name it.

At Cloud Gaming Europe, Naked Media's Steve Cottam painted the ability to play Borderlands or Homefront at the touch of a button - OnLive's key selling point - as almost quaint. The extreme of the cloud's potential could herald the creation of games on a scale difficult to conceive: terabytes in size, with AAA production values, supporting tens of millions of concurrent users. But that won't happen tomorrow, or even in the next five years. Indeed, by the reckoning of industry consultant Nick Parker, the widespread streaming of full AAA games is unlikely to be a reality until around 2020. For now, content creators are looking at the implementing the cloud in more subtle and pervasive ways.

"We strongly believe it's about new and different experiences: How to use this technology to go beyond the kind of experiences you can have on existing platforms," says Julien Merceron, worldwide technology director for Square Enix, which operates a cloud-based gaming service called Core Online. "For us, the huge advantage on the content side is to make our products more dynamic. One of the problems with dynamic problems right now is that users have to download updates and patches and wait for things to happen instead of playing. In the cloud, you can have very, very dynamic and secure products without making the user frustrated.

"On the technology side, we're trying to look into what is actually feasible: Where to start, and where we want to go. We have a lot of ideas, but we are almost redesigning products for the cloud, rather than just adapting or porting them."

1

In that sense, the feeling among the massed developers at the Cloud Gaming Europe conference is that Sony has judged its implementation of Gaikai's technology just right. The PlayStation 4 employs a little of the cloud in a lot of different ways, from instant demos to ambient updating to sharing video - the sort of features that will fundamentally improve the console experience without the need for long explanations about reducing latency. Sony gave no concrete details of its plans to stream full games, and that's telling. Even David Perry's vague ambition to stream the entire PlayStation 3 back catalogue seems more fanciful than realistic. Indeed, in a conversation between sessions, Graham Clemie, the founder of cloud gaming pioneer T5 Labs, told me that the idea sounds a little like "bullshit" - thanks to the PlayStation 3's unique cell architecture, that sort of backwards compatibility would be a difficult and expensive undertaking that the won't be feasible until Sony's customers are past caring.

"Most of us don't know what's on offer. We don't hear much about cloud gaming. The Xbox guys don't talk to us about cloud gaming - ever"

Simon Humphreys, Codemasters

Does Microsoft have more ambitious plans for the next Xbox? It's far too early to tell, but the smart money is on it being at least as cloud-facing as the PlayStation 4. Microsoft has the sort of resources and scale that Agawi's Peter Relan believes would be necessary to create a successful vertical cloud gaming business, and the truth is it has been more ready for the cloud than Sony for many years. The notion that none of that learning will trickle down to the next Xbox is borderline absurd.

However, in a roundtable hosted by Microsoft at Cloud Gaming Europe, Simon Humphreys, director of digital content at Codemasters, indicated that the company is not making its best effort with developers. "I think you need to work more closely with developers and big publishers, and incentive them to use the cloud features you're providing," he said. "Because most of us don't know what's on offer. I'm not talking financial incentives, but engineering time, and assistance in getting some of the features that would work better on the cloud, on the cloud.

"We don't hear much about cloud gaming. The Xbox guys don't talk to us about cloud gaming - ever."

When it comes to companies the size of Microsoft and, to a lesser extent, Sony, these small inefficiencies and arbitrary barriers are inevitable, but when it comes to the widespread implementation of the cloud in gaming they could prove decisive. Once the infrastructure is in place, the GPU cloud will reach billions of devices with games of every kind - greater reach and more flexibility at a significantly lower cost. The PlayStation 4 and the next Xbox will no doubt be designed with a degree of flexibility in mind, but if Agawi and its peers can establish an affordable GPU cloud in the span of time Relan suggests, the console manufacturers may be in yet another race they just can't win.

"The console is faced with the classic innovators dilemma. You have to take care of the thing that built your business in the first place, but by doing that you're limiting yourself," says Relan. "They might sell, what, 30 or 40 million of these things in a year? But more tablets or connected TVs are going to sell in one quarter. After these next Sony and Microsoft consoles I don't think there'll be any more. Cloud gaming is still incipient, but not for much longer.

"They have one more shot, but five years from now that'll be gone."

31 Comments

Maarten De Jong
Marketing / Research partner

10 6 0.6
It sure is a bit of a slow revolution, isn't it. It took off in a seemingly high pace, but with Onlive 'failing' and the still mild integrations of streaming services for the PS4, full cloud gaming seems pretty far on the horizon.

I'm not so sure why you would NOT want the have powerhouse inside your home and keep connections short? Then you don't have the possible latency issues that comes with streaming, not to mention the price plans of these services and the internet providers.
It is all fine to integrate some cloud games as a nice gimmick in your tv or media box for the masses, but for gaming as a primary thing? not really.
I think Sony is doing the right thing for now by making content easily accessible and playable (even while downloading) without trying stream everything on unreliable connections. Use it for necessary online features and for that one-off download of the game and enjoy a reliable fast experience. People like to posses things anyway.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Maarten De Jong on 12th March 2013 1:03pm

Posted:A year ago

#1

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

806 1,002 1.2
Popular Comment
Most people who know what they're talking about have been slating this since day one. It's a shop egg, always has been and always will be.

Even when/if the infrastructure is ever in a place to support it, I still wouldn't want it. I'm pretty sure this has been a VC con since day one tbh.

Posted:A year ago

#2

John Pickford
Owner

45 151 3.4
So the cloud gaming revolution is lagging behind predictions. I wonder why?

Posted:A year ago

#3
As is obvious, cloud gaming is all about infrastructure. Once everyone has reliable, cheap, fat BW pipes with very low latency - then everyone will be doing cloud gaming. Because the rest of it isn't that hard. But until that happens, it makes no point, and doesn't appeal to any real gamer. And everyone else has tablets/phones for gaming.

Posted:A year ago

#4

John Pickford
Owner

45 151 3.4
Latency won't go away.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Max Priddy

64 12 0.2
Until cloud gaming has the visual clarity/sharpness and input latency of a HDD-based PC game being supersampled and running above 60fps, think I'll just stick to installing things on my PC when it comes to videogames. :)

Posted:A year ago

#6

Roberto Bruno
Curious Person

104 69 0.7
More specifically, latency *can't* go away, not to the extent required by dedicated gamers.

And that's just the most obvious problem.
Then you have efficiency. As Gabe Newell stated recently, being the industry equivalent of the child who screamed the king was naked, putting all the computational workload at the center of the system instead of its edges is NOT something you should want, at all.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Craig Page
Programmer

382 218 0.6
No one actually benefits from cloud gaming except these bogus companies, your ISP (if they have low download caps), and maybe Amazon which could lease some processing power when it's needed like they do with Netflix.

Posted:A year ago

#8
If the technology wasn't there and if cloud gaming didn't have potential, then companies around the world wouldn't be investing millions in developing their platforms. New companies are popping up almost every month, whether pixel streaming or progressive download, carrier backed or OTT.

Cloud gaming is live worldwide. Companies like SFR, SingTel and Orange are just some of the network operators benefiting. Big Fish have their own OTT service. Cloud gaming does work, today, it is just about what works and in whatcircumstances (casual vs. core, subscription vs. freemium etc.)

Posted:A year ago

#9

Christopher Bowen
Editor in Chief

405 539 1.3
The potential for cloud gaming is *huge*. Personally, I'm excited for it, and I've written articles defending it; it's amazing, if it becomes a legitimate thing.

But so many other industries have to be on board - most of all the ISPs, who have shown they have zero incentive to assist in any way, shape or form unless they get their own pound of flesh - that it might not be feasible yet.

Posted:A year ago

#10

John Pickford
Owner

45 151 3.4
Popular Comment
It's ludicrous to use (expensive & limited) bandwidth to move (cheap) CPU cycles from a local device (no latency problems) to a distant server. This will make games worse. It might make them easier to access and introduce new business models but it will absolutely reduce playability and visual fidelity.

Those in favour seem to dismiss the latency issue. It's not going away. There's no way to fix it beyond putting the processor very close to the player. Like maybe just having local processing like we do now.

The only way something like this makes financial sense is if there are many fewer CPU cycles in all the server farms combined than you would have if everyone had proper local processing (consoles). So you wouldn't have lots of CPU's sitting idle at any given time. But how would such a system cope with the launch of a big game where a huge number of people want to play the same game at the same time? It would either be a disaster on a bigger scale than the recent Sim City mess or require a stupid number of processors making the whole thing pointless.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Pickford on 12th March 2013 8:34pm

Posted:A year ago

#11

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

806 1,002 1.2
Just think how ace it would be if we had interstellar space tours. We can build most of the bits now if we wanted to, so lets just ignore the light speed limit and start selling tickets. That nasty little detail will resolve itself in time if we get everyone excited...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 13th March 2013 8:31am

Posted:A year ago

#12

Dave Herod
Senior Programmer

517 734 1.4
If the technology wasn't there and if cloud gaming didn't have potential, then companies around the world wouldn't be investing millions in developing their platforms.
I don't know, companies have a habit of trying to force things customers don't want. Like 3D movies. The amount of times I've sat through trailers at the cinema only to hear people groan when "IN 3D!!" pops up at the end.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Jakub Mikyska
CEO

198 1,081 5.5
I have tried some demos on OnLive (on wi-fi connection) and it wasn't really that bad. The latency or picture quality wasn't such an issue. I noticed them, but it wasn't a deal-breaker. Sure, I prefer my home cinema setup with a PS3 hooked to a 7.1 audio and large TV, but those are quite difficult to carry around when I am on travels.

I think that this article was correct that cloud gaming is currently mostly for casual, or not-so-demanding players. You can say that everyone prefers the best picture and zero lag, but yet there are people who still play games on their old CRT TVs, or high-end LCDs without Game Mode turned on (which boosts latency to something like 150 ms). In other words, there are people who don't mind, or don't know.

I really like what Sony is planning with PS4. If the PS4 could work as a server that could stream my games to (potentially) any device, that would be a killer and it would also solve the huge server cost problem for Sony.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Renaud Charpentier
Lead Designer

64 138 2.2
Server based gaming is already dominant on some platforms, and many of these servers are abstracted in a cloud. But despite the word cloud it has nothing to do with "streamed" cloud gaming a la Onlive. Having the frame buffer calculated remotely doesn't make any technical sense and will keep failing as a business for pure scientific reasons. The poor folks who invested in that had very bad advisors with very limited technical insights. In times where an iPhone 5 can compute "PS3-ish" graphics in the palm of your hand this whole video streaming idea is even more ridiculous.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Renaud Charpentier on 13th March 2013 10:29am

Posted:A year ago

#15

Tin Katavic
Studying MSc-Games Technology

44 3 0.1
@Craig Page
I think that there would be quite a pool of potential players who would benefit from cloud gaming.
Think of it like this:
For cloud gaming all you need is a fast broadband. Ok, thats not such a simple thing but its what you would need.
This means that your rig configuration and even OS becomes irrelevant.
So all the people who:
a) Use Linux or OSX
b) Have old(er) PC
would find cloud gaming interesting.
In my case, I prefered (still do) to work on a Mac. And until I started doing more programing all of the stuff I did could have been done on a Mac with no problem ... except gaming. To enjoy great games with great graphics I had to have a PC with Windows. So for people like that, a loss of graphics quality is a acceptable price to pay for gaming without buying a PC. After all, console gamers choose simpler use, lower price and playing from the couch over cutting edge graphics and better control from the mouse and keyboard.

And considering how many games require internet connection (Starcraft II requires broadband and does some data streaming in game) its not too out there to think cloud gaming has a future.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Robin Clarke
Producer

299 684 2.3
If the technology wasn't there and if cloud gaming didn't have potential, then companies around the world wouldn't be investing millions in developing their platforms.
Investors sank insane amounts of money into primitive mobile video and me-too MMOs and social games before fashions shifted. Technical and market realities and investor speculation are often wildly separate things.

Posted:A year ago

#17

Nick Parker
Consultant

279 143 0.5
The key question here is what type of games experience are we talking about? Cutting edge triple A Assassins Creed/Skyrim/COD/Resident Evil/FIFA type games cannot be delivered to the masses using pure streaming technology at a latency rate of less than 100 milliseconds without jitter; there has to be some downloaded element to start with. However....

Who'd want to play games on a device which has no hard drive but just an Internet connection? I would and I shall....one day. I think we are being too short sighted in describing the future within todays technological parameters. You can already use your mobile phone as a server to send games to any PC wherever it is. There is technology which can stream games and serve other apps over the top like Skype at the same time (great for those who game and Skype simultaneously). There is technology which allows you to play the streamed game and still play when you are offline although its not installed. As I said at the conference, there are neat progressive download technologies (not video/pixel streaming) which exist and will bridge the gap over the coming years until full streaming of high end games is viable for everybody, but that won't be until maybe 2020.

Posted:A year ago

#18

John Pickford
Owner

45 151 3.4
Delivering code & data via the internet is fine. As is server based gaming where a responsive client is running locally. The only real issue is video streaming which will never work well.

Posted:A year ago

#19

Stephen Richards
Game Deisgner

68 28 0.4
Hmm about the 'slow burning' of cloud gaming: the issue doesn't rest upon future improvements in broadband and server infrastructure, it rests on whether these improvements will occur faster than those in consoles and other local devices. Onlive doesn't match current get consoles on a typical bandwidth, I wonder how long it'll take to catch up to the next ones? Probably longer than it'll take for them to be replaced too. Cloud gaming may be cheap and convenient but it'll always be a niche market.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

806 1,002 1.2
"As I said at the conference, there are neat progressive download technologies (not video/pixel streaming) which exist and will bridge the gap over the coming years until full streaming of high end games is viable for everybody, but that won't be until maybe 2020. "

This thing about future tech. I'm afraid 2020 won't be anywhere near close enough. I think we will have this no sooner than 2200 if at all. We need a whole deep-space manufacturing industry in place before we can even start experimenting with the high energies required for quantum entanglement control, even assuming some of the more radical physics theories bear fruit and it's possible to do this. If they don't get that solved, adequate response times in games will never be possible, so you have 2200 or never, you heard it here first.

Posted:A year ago

#21

Renaud Charpentier
Lead Designer

64 138 2.2
Mmm, by 2200 we will all be dead here, by 2100 about the same, what concerns us is up to 2020-30 already and there is no way streaming video and inputs back and forth will be good enough. The funny thing is that it's terrible for high end action games (AC, CoD etc...) and it is totally useless for a "Cut the chain" or "Angry chickens" as your mobile device cpu and gpu are already capable of processing that. Streaming codes and assets to avoid the need for a drive? Not even, standard is 16 Gigs already, in 2020 you will have 100's of gigs of storage in your phone, by default (you can already by a 128 Gigs iPad). Again, no, apart from voice and server data, no streaming relevance in sight.

Posted:A year ago

#22

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

806 1,002 1.2
@Renaud. You're right of course, but that tack doesn't work against the true believers. "Why would we want this?" is not a question that I think anyone involved has ever asked themselves. Or maybe they did and swept the answer under the rug.

Posted:A year ago

#23

Jakub Mikyska
CEO

198 1,081 5.5
@Paul: "Why would we want this?" is actually the only thing that keeps cloud gaming "alive". The premise is fantastic. Any game at any device. No more porting, no more platform-specific issues, no more save files transferring between devices, no need for dedicated gaming hardware, games finally becoming a service rather than a product.
If it actually worked, it would change the gaming landscape for better. Too bad that we are still stuck with "if", and not even close to "when". And probably always will be.

I think that the problem is really not the quality of the picture or the lag. The real problem is the cost. The need to invest into massive server-rooms, spread across the globe. With constant need for upgrades and with enlarging user-base also massively enlarging costs to keep everything running and every player served.

What kills the cloud gaming is not quality or lag. It is the economy behind it.

Posted:A year ago

#24

Dave Herod
Senior Programmer

517 734 1.4
It's not fantastic though. Hardware to run games well is getting better and cheaper all the time, so the closer they get to making it work, the less need there is for it in the first place. "No more porting" isn't something the customer cares about, that's the developer's problem. If broadband gets faster, then it wouldn't take long to download all the code and assets to your device anyway.

Posted:A year ago

#25

John Pickford
Owner

45 151 3.4
Economy might well be the most obvious culprit but lag and image quality are waiting right behind it with baseball bats. The whole thing is just a bad idea.

Posted:A year ago

#26

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

430 405 0.9
Cable companies like Virgin Media could easily capitalise on the the fibre optic networks they've had since forever.

They have much of the infrastructure in place that cloud gaming could leverage on and could easily make use of their existing customer base for a speedy market uptake. BT could follow suit now that they have established their own fibre optic network, but I think that cloud gaming would work much better if they leveraged the cable networks by teaming up with them.

So what if the service isn't available to everyone? All it needs are some unique killer apps that couldn't have been done on a console, like a forever evolving world that allowed users to create assets, etc.

Posted:A year ago

#27

Renaud Charpentier
Lead Designer

64 138 2.2
@Paul. Yes, your angle is right, the believers tend to ignore John's baseball bats effectively waiting at the corner. But I think we kind of all agree here that it is dead, won't happen as a mass solutions for many financial and technical reasons. So it's our role to say that loud and clear and fight the guys who keep making false promises just to juice more money for investors. Because that's bad for us, it generates false hopes from the market, terrible lack of faith from investors, horror stories for some devs involved; we don't want that, we don't need that. Gamesindustry.biz and other gaming websites should run more simple and media friendly articles on the subject to dispel some of this undue hype, or what remains of it. And even if the initial article we comment is balanced it's title still labels OnLive as a "revolution in gaming (even if slow)" instead of a costly proof of complete failure.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Renaud Charpentier on 14th March 2013 12:11pm

Posted:A year ago

#28
That platform issue is slowly lessen though, with the new trend for many game companies to create cross-platform game at the development processes. And there are Steam, which have clients in all major OS. Maybe some would want to play Need For Speed on their iPad, but most hardcore gamers wouldn't interest much, I'd think. As a gamer, I seriously don't see any reason to switch unless you can deliver at higher quality than what I could using my gaming PC with at least 20fps. There'd be no incentive for me to pay extra on top of my high-speed connection otherwise. This is not even talking about multiplayer FPS, which win and lose in a millisecond reflect time.

Posted:A year ago

#29

Paul Shirley
Programmers

175 147 0.8
@Paul Johnson:
Or maybe they asked themselves "Why would publishers want this?", got the right answer (DRM and conversion to rental) but totally failed to consider the publishers could roll their own 'good enough' network DRM without the streaming overhead. OnLive was unique in the industry in selling direct to the public, everyone else tried/tries to be a service provider to publishers.

Posted:A year ago

#30

Dominic Jakube
Student

92 13 0.1
Yeah I can't wait till every game launch is like Sim City or Diablo 3.

Posted:A year ago

#31

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now