Silicon Knights boss Denis Dyack has said that cloud gaming – services that offer online games to players without the need for specialist hardware in a home – could be the ideal business model for developers, publishers and consumers.
Speaking in an exclusive interview published today, Dyack said that the cloud could be the solution to all the major problems harming the growth of the games business today, such as piracy and used game sales, and at the same time attract new consumers previously intimidated by the complexity of choice in the market.
"In some ways it's the absolute elimination of any hardware as far as the consumer is concerned, because the hardware is the cloud," offered Dyack, a long-time advocate of a single standard format for games. "It helps on so many levels because it resolves the piracy issue, which is a massive problem today, and the used games issue, because you buy something and it's yours forever – it resides on the cloud. These are wins for the consumers and wins for the game developers."
"People confuse a one console future as a monopoly and that's completely wrong," he added. "The idea is it would be an open standardised format where anyone could manufacture. If a grandmother goes into a store and wants a specific game for her grandson, she has to figure out the console, the ratings system, and all these barriers that have been artificially created.
"People think that's normal because that's all we've ever had. This is a win for everyone."
With three home consoles, at least three competing portable platforms and the multiple gaming opportunities through the PC, there's an oversupply of games that consumers can actually play, said Dyack. And creating a level playing field would allow creators to focus on the game rather than spending so much time learning multiple technical disciplines.
"There's a term in commoditisation that's called performance oversupply. That's when the market starts over performing and giving the consumer more than it can possibly consume," said Dyack. "If you have Gears of War which is unique to the Xbox 360 and Uncharted 2 for the PS3, they're not really competing against each other. Depending on which console you have you have an oversupply of games because you can't play them all unless you have all the consoles.
"The average consumer can't buy all those games. So the idea of a singular console is good because it makes people compete on an even playing field. It's not about who's better at programming the PS3 or the 360 or the Wii. It's a game first and foremost. Forget the hardware, I want to be entertained."
Piracy is an endless battle that the authorities can't win with technology, and society isn't willing to change the way it thinks or expects to consume digital media, according to Dyack.
"Look at record stores in North America and you won't see anyone in there under 30 because people under 30 don't think they have to buy a CD any more, they can just download an album. In China there's no social drive for people to pay for software, they feel that they don't need to pay for it. When you buy a computer it's filled with software, it's a big issue and the governments are trying to fix it but it's never going to get fixed. There are billions of people there that don't care.
"If you look at the best selling games [in China] – World of Warcraft is up there. It's not quite a cloud model, but you have to subscribe to the servers and it's protected that way. The great thing about cloud computing and non-linear media is you can protect them on the cloud because it requires two-way input. You can't pirate something you don't have and I think it's the future of our industry."
The full interview with Denis Dyack, where he also discusses motion control technology, can be read here.