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Denis Dyack Part Two

The Silicon Knights boss discusses why cloud computing is the future and saviour of the games business

In the first part of our interview with Silicon Knights president Denis Dyack, we concentrated on the Canadian industry, a subject very close to the developer, and how the company intends to help grow the regional talent base in Ontario.

In the second part published today, Dyack agreed to discuss some recent developments in the games business, including cloud computing and how it could be crucial to a single format future, the introduction of Natal and motion control systems to consoles You're known for the traditional blockbuster games for consoles. But has the studio focus changed any over the past 18 months, and specifically since the release of Too Human?
Denis Dyack

Silicon Knights is going to remain focused on big budget titles. What's happening is we're following the model of the movie industry and I think it's a natural evolution. When the movie industry began there were a lot of studios and a lot of pictures coming out but not a lot of huge hits. Then they all merged into the six studios that we have today. There's still independent film ideas, but the major money makers are through the main studios. All the iPhone stuff, all the mobile phone stuff, though there may be some money there, it's what I would consider indie. Elsewhere, budgets are getting bigger like with Modern Warfare 2 – that's done a good haul at retail. You're going to get fewer of those. Have you seen a reluctance from the publishers you've spoken with, to invest in blockbuster projects? If you fail at that scale you fail big...
Denis Dyack

Of course. That's all part of the mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies. You'll get companies that continue to play in that and others that will have to merge to survive or exit completely. It's really going to come down to the bigger players who will continue to play the game and others that are going to withdraw. You're seeing a lot right now of this movement to iPhones and stuff because there's nothing else out there. It's very possible that Silicon Knights could have a success on that format, but it's not our interest, it's not our model. You're siding with the big boys?
Denis Dyack

Yes, that's where we want to be and that's where we want to stay. We've always been big proponents of high production values. We'd rather do fewer bigger titles than several small ones. That's the way we've always been. You've always been a big proponent of the single-format future. Do you see the recent buzz around cloud gaming from the likes of Gaikai and OnLive as running parallel to that, or becoming the single place where all games can exist?
Denis Dyack

When I first talked about a single format future, one of the things I talked about was technology and commoditisation and how the value of the technology will continue to move towards zero. Theoretically consoles could be commoditised to zero and not exist any more. Which is exactly what cloud computing is. In some ways it's the absolute elimination of any hardware as far as the consumer is concerned, because the hardware is the cloud. 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.

I don't know what the current stats are but if you go two years back I believe there were over 300 games released in November 2007. 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. 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. It's surprising how many people scoff at the idea of a single format for games when we already have single, or standard formats, for music and film.
Denis Dyack

Look at movies and the DVD player is a really good example of an open, competitive field where you can buy any hardware and you know the movie will play. People confuse a one console future as a monopoly and that's completely wrong. The idea is it would be an open standardised format where anyone could manufacture. A counter argument to that is, we're talking about the PC platform, right? But the PC is not standardised. When you go and buy a PC game the first questions you ask is 'will it run on my computer?' That's a marketing campaign, 'this will run on your PC, don't worry'. The real problem is the consumer needs to be confident that when they buy Game X they will be able to play it, period. 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. I know of no instance of any technology that hasn't been commoditised. I'm a big believer in that still. Context is everything and these are complex matters. This is a win for everyone. For consumers and publishers and as a developer I just want to makes the games.

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Matt Martin


Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.