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Cloud tech will lead to better games - Dyack

Silicon Knights boss believes new services will speed development and increase dev competition

The onset of cloud services, such as OnLive and Gaikai, will lead to cheaper, better games for consumers - as well as making the development of those games cheaper and quicker.

That's according to Denis Dyack, founder of Too Human developer Silicon Knights, in a wide-ranging philosophical talk on the issue at this year's GDC Europe, entitled "Musing about Cloud."

Cloud computing will speed development, he explained, and because the hardware matters less than the services in such an environment, it will encourage a more competitive games landscape and lead to better games for gamers.

And because there's no need for manufacturing, "it'll be easier for you as a developer to bring your game to market," he added, noting that it's not just development budgets that have grown to huge proportions, but marketing budgets as well.

However, while most of the talk about cloud so far has been around one, perhaps two clouds existing, Dyack thinks that's a completely wrong way to look at how the technology will evolve.

"Don't assume there will just be one cloud in the sky - there will be hundreds," he said. "Assuming Silicon Knights had the resources we could have a cloud. Sony could have one, Nintendo could have one, Microsoft could have one. I think about clouds like cable channels, there'll be hundreds.

"I think that's likely where it will go, because it's an accepted consumer model already."

And in response to some of the obvious criticisms of such services - nominally the issue of lag and latency - Dyack is clear that such problems won't stop clouds from evolving, nothing that those problems will be overcome with time and won't affect every game anyway in the meantime.

He ended with a musing about how 2009 might be remembered, and concluded that although some may look at falling game sales and conclude the worst, in ten years' time it'll be seen as a good year.

"If I was to look back in ten years at how 2009 was remembered, I think it would be as the end of the golden era of videogames of coin-ops and consoles," as the first cloud models for games are announced.

The obvious results of the onset of cloud is, he said, essentially: the end of consoles; better, cheaper and more widely available games; and hardware that becomes irrelevant to the consumer as it's hidden behind the cloud, while services that are offered become far more important.

But while Dyack's comments offer a broad vision of the future, he warned that it wasn't a change that would happen overnight - and didn't herald a new direction for his own company just yet.

"This kind of talk for me really isn't speaking about what Silicon Knights is going to do, more about what's in store for the industry," he said. "These things don't happen overnight, but in small steps. It might all go horribly, and we don't see another cloud model for four more years - but I do think in 20 years that cloud will be the dominant model."

Earlier the session, Dyack had explained his view that cloud was one of the only things that could prevent games IP from commoditisation - while a broadcast entertainment medium doesn't alter from one showing to the next, an interactive experience cannot be copied and reduced in value in the same way.

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