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Leaders Talk Cloud Gaming Before 1st-Ever Conference

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 29 comments

Next month, the first-ever cloud gaming conference will take place in San Jose. Prior to that, the organization behind the conference has unleashed a report featuring comments on the future of cloud gaming from four key members in the industry.

If you were thinking that cloud gaming was becoming just a fad (like 3D again) and will eventually die off, giving way to physical media and digital downloads, then think again. The industry is placing its bets on the cloud, enough so that various industry leaders will be gathering at the first-ever cloud gaming conference next month in San Jose, California.

For those of us who registered for the conference, we received an interesting report in the form of a Q&A with Gaikai CEO David Perry, GameStop President Tony Bartel, Electronic Arts Chief Creative Director Richard Hilleman and THQ President Brian Farrell. They provide their thoughts on four key issues that will "pave the way to cloud gaming." GameStop's Tony Bartel even talks about the company's plans for creating a small subset of gaming-optimized tablets with game controller support.

Are data centers the answer, or could games be optimized for the cloud at the development stage?

THQ President Brian FarrellTHQ President Brian FarrellBrian Farrell (THQ): "The quality of gamers' experience "on the cloud" depends so much on how quickly and consistently they can access the network – better connections obviously translate to a better experi­ence. It’s all about latency, and latency in an online game is dictated largely by the distance between the player and the server and the amount of data being sent over the network. So it’s our responsibility as publishers to look at the latency issue from all sides, considering data centers and developing games optimized for the cloud."

Gaikai CEO David PerryGaikai CEO David PerryDavid Perry (Gaikai): "It’s got to be data centers, because you’re dealing with the speed of light. I guess that’s one of the most interesting things. There’s only two companies that have stood up GPU-based cloud networks to do this, and that’s OnLive and Gaikai." (He goes on to bash OnLive, which is like comparing apples to oranges, so we'll leave that portion out)

Demand for online games can be very unpredictable. Core games are much more resource intensive than casual games. Is scalability a concern when thinking about your move towards cloud gaming?

EA Chief Creative Director Richard HillemanEA Chief Creative Director Richard HillemanRichard Hilleman (EA): "I guess the question is whether it’s a thin client or a thick client project. We think that the efficiencies that underlie those systems are a continuous source of innovation that we have to work on and probably the most boring thing, because it’s pretty invis­ible to the customer. If you take the size of these systems, modest amounts of money become large amounts of money with small chang­es in those infrastructures. We’re going to pursue efficiencies because they’re very easy to realize."

GameStop President Tony BartelGameStop President Tony BartelTony Bartel (GameStop): "One of the reasons that we bought Spawn Labs is it allows us to really start from the ground up and totally develop technology around our PowerUp Rewards system. We know exactly what games people have and which games they are going to be playing. We know exactly where they live, what the demand is, and who is going to be playing those games."


The full report can be downloaded here. The Cloud Gaming USA Conference and Expo in San Jose runs September 7 and 8, 2011.

Anyone excited about cloud gaming yet?

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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    bak0n , August 3, 2011 10:34 PM
    Ya right. All the ISP's are pushing data usage caps. As long as caps are in place, cloud gaming will be useless for the hardcore gamer.
  • 12 Hide
    Xyos , August 3, 2011 10:50 PM
    That "retire games out of the network" also worries me. I still go back and play my old PC games. I dont want to have games that I "bought" from the Cloud being removed once they become less popular.

    Cloud gaming will never compare to local hardware. There is still a noticable delay even on good networks, and you get sub 720P resolution. Classic PC gaming all the way! :) 
  • 12 Hide
    christop , August 3, 2011 9:57 PM
    Maybe I am old school but I would not spend money on a game that I really didn't have in my possession. I find it hard to believe people are just going to buy a game that sits on a server some where and not have a copy at home.
Other Comments
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  • 12 Hide
    christop , August 3, 2011 9:57 PM
    Maybe I am old school but I would not spend money on a game that I really didn't have in my possession. I find it hard to believe people are just going to buy a game that sits on a server some where and not have a copy at home.
  • 10 Hide
    kinggraves , August 3, 2011 9:57 PM
    So the four "industry leaders" are shovelware professionals THQ and EA, monopolistic Gamestop, and Gaikai who's in the BUSINESS of cloud gaming.

    Honestly, did you expect Gaikai to NOT say the future is in cloud gaming? EA and THQ will gladly jump on any bandwagon that will have them. Gamestop is so afraid that Steam will turn them into the next Blockbuster they'll agree to anything someone tells them will work.

    At the present time, cloud gaming can hardly become a reality in America thanks to the dated pipelines. Even if they were improved, it's always going to be a situation where localized hardware will perform better than hardware that has to be processed elsewhere and travel a distance. Most people that game on a PC at this point instead of on a mobile/console are doing so because they want the best possible performance, so they will never see cloud gaming as anything more than a novelty. This just shows how completely out of touch these "industry leaders" are with their consumer base. Stop worrying about the cloud and worry about your games being less entertaining than a bird catapult to the average person.
  • 7 Hide
    clonazepam , August 3, 2011 10:11 PM
    Quote:
    And you can completely retire games out of the network


    idk about you, but i think that right there is the fail. they'll decide when I dont want to play a certain game anymore... nuh-uh...

    In some respects I hope it works out and turns into a great service. The Devil in me hopes they invest huge amounts of money and fall flat on their faces.
  • 15 Hide
    bak0n , August 3, 2011 10:34 PM
    Ya right. All the ISP's are pushing data usage caps. As long as caps are in place, cloud gaming will be useless for the hardcore gamer.
  • 7 Hide
    legacy7955 , August 3, 2011 10:37 PM
    The Powers That Be want to make you a SLAVE to the cloud!

    Death to the Cloud!
  • 12 Hide
    Xyos , August 3, 2011 10:50 PM
    That "retire games out of the network" also worries me. I still go back and play my old PC games. I dont want to have games that I "bought" from the Cloud being removed once they become less popular.

    Cloud gaming will never compare to local hardware. There is still a noticable delay even on good networks, and you get sub 720P resolution. Classic PC gaming all the way! :) 
  • -2 Hide
    bystander , August 3, 2011 10:51 PM
    I have two conflicting thoughts about this.

    1) I have a powerful rig that can perform extremely well. I can't imagine cloud gaming could compete with the experience I have now.

    2) Cloud computing could offer a whole new experience to the user. Rather than buying individual games, they could offer time on their networks instead and they'd be foolish if they didn't offer this type of service. For those who like to play different games a lot, it could be a lot cheaper way to game.
  • -2 Hide
    alidan , August 3, 2011 11:29 PM
    what is the oldest game i still play...
    i believe zelda, as my atari burnt in a fire.

    the oldest pc game... wow... thats a hard one... i would have to say alice is one that i return to every now and than, nerf arena every now and than, and than some realy old games when i bother getting dosbox to work.
  • 5 Hide
    Parsian , August 3, 2011 11:35 PM
    Stop believing that you have to sell something when there is a demand for it. iPAD sold when there was no demand for it. Today's marketing is about CREATING a DEMAND by showing people how they need it. In other word, this world is now about creating a USE for otherwise USELESS products.
  • 8 Hide
    redgarl , August 3, 2011 11:35 PM
    Why wasting money on an immature concept when you can get a really good graphic card for 100$?
  • 3 Hide
    mortsmi7 , August 4, 2011 3:40 AM
    XyosThat "retire games out of the network" also worries me. I still go back and play my old PC games. I dont want to have games that I "bought" from the Cloud being removed once they become less popular. Cloud gaming will never compare to local hardware. There is still a noticable delay even on good networks, and you get sub 720P resolution. Classic PC gaming all the way!

    I have a few win95 games sitting on the shelf. Despite compatibility issues, I still occasionally try to play them.
  • 0 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , August 4, 2011 3:51 AM
    Quote:
    Stop believing that you have to sell something when there is a demand for it. iPAD sold when there was no demand for it. Today's marketing is about CREATING a DEMAND by showing people how they need it. In other word, this world is now about creating a USE for otherwise USELESS products.


    +1; I said that before and will say again, it has bee done many times: cloud computing, "PC is dead"... media just keeps repeating things until people finally believe it. I know a lot of people who are not hardcore gamers, and even they are smart enough to say they don't need the cloud. The only demand for the cloud is in business applications, gamers DON'T need it. Cloud gaming IS a fad, no matter how much they try to convince you otherwise. ISP problems, much more powerful local hardware and most of all - someone else deciding what you're gonna play! (aka "retiring games") - all this makes cloud gaming a very bad idea for an average gamer.

    So, basically, gaming will turn into some kind of interactive TV... you turn on your "PC" (basically, it's not even a PC anymore), see what's on today (since they decide what games you can and can't play) and then play it. Is this how you want your gaming to turn out? Scary concept.

    I'm sure nVidia, AMD, Intel and others won't like the idea, as that will harm their market if it ever happens.
  • 1 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , August 4, 2011 7:10 AM
    fk cloud. I have a good PC
  • 1 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , August 4, 2011 8:16 AM
    Oh yeah, one more thing...

    Quote:
    Brian Farrell: "There are already a lot of games on tablets and mobile devices that are built around core sensibilities, with a hardcore gamer in mind, and that trend is only going to grow in the next 12–24 months.


    Excuse me? Tablet/smartphone games for a HARDCORE GAMER?

    Pathetic. Just... pathetic. Do they really think gamers are that dumb?

    On the other side, since nowadays Angry Birds is considered hardcore gaming, maybe they are.
  • -1 Hide
    neo_moco , August 4, 2011 12:28 PM
    Cloud gaming is far far away from becoming a viable solution , maby in 100 years or so.
    At the moment we can barely game on multiplayer with acceptable lags , how do they even think that cloud will work fine with this technology ... we need to improve the lag on current networks , and cloud seems like a shot in the foot . Not to mention that computers are becoming dirt cheap , it doesn`t even makes sense in the near future. The information will never be proccesed as fast on a remote server hundreds or thousand km away than how it can pe proccesed on a local hardware ... and that is the end of the cloud FAD . But you can be sure we will get angry birds multiplayer on cloud . Serious gaming will probably never be on cloud and for sure not in our lifetime .
  • -1 Hide
    crewton , August 4, 2011 1:29 PM
    I decided to go outschool this summer with baldur's gate and planescape fun. I'd hate to have to 1. keep paying for a game after 10 years (probably be forced to have a subscription to play the games as well as paying for ISP) and 2. Not be able to play the games when I want to play them. All this will create is the the undesired affect of cracking the games to play them offline. I know I personally will just find a way to download and play the game at home if I'm stuck in the cloud.
  • -1 Hide
    back_by_demand , August 4, 2011 2:10 PM
    If and when actual cloud gaming takes root, Steam will already have the customers and the infrastructure to gravitate in that direction and all these wannabe playas will just fall over.
  • 0 Hide
    clonazepam , August 4, 2011 4:34 PM
    ParsianStop believing that you have to sell something when there is a demand for it. iPAD sold when there was no demand for it. Today's marketing is about CREATING a DEMAND by showing people how they need it. In other word, this world is now about creating a USE for otherwise USELESS products.


    I used to work in Best Buy's service department when the 1st gen ipods came out. BB didn't even want to sell them b/c there was nearly 0 margin, thanks to Apple. In addition, so many failed that BB ended up spending several million dollars a month just to ship the units to and from repair. Needless to say, we got quite a few memos about the stupid ipods.

    It's sad that people see a commercial with a shadow figure dancing with an ipod and think wow I need to do that. What they didn't realize was they had moving parts back in the beginning, and were probably the worst MP3 players on the market, not even taking the price into account.

    I loved how people bragged about the storage. "I can store over a million songs on this thing." My reply, "do you have the million dollars, dollar per song, to ever fill it up?" rofl (I know you can convert old CDs, etc, but the point changes little)
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , August 4, 2011 6:09 PM
    The only way I'm going to accept cloud gaming is when I can pay a reasonable monthly fee and have access to a large library of games. This is the same model that I am also willing to support for music, movies, and books. So far there are systems like Spotify for music and Netflix for movies. Neither is really great at this point, but the cloud industry is still in its infancy. Even with 'cloud' gaming, I'd still want the option to run the game on my local machine, at least until they can stream the highest quality settings at the highest resolution. If I'm going to be paying for each game through a digital service, I'm going to stick with Steam.
  • 0 Hide
    rjwest0004 , August 4, 2011 6:54 PM
    It still amazes me how many people bash cloud gaming without even trying it. Let me put it in terms a hardcore gamer should easily understand: I have two laptops. One is newer, with a dedicated graphics card and i7 processor. I used the new one to beat "The Witcher 2" on medium-high settings (just for frame of reference on the specs of the new system).

    The other is a few years old, with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and no dedicated graphics card. It can barely run "The Witcher (1)" on low settings (again for frame of reference on the specs).

    However, I played several hours of Assassin's Creed 2, Borderlands GOTY, and I even beat Batman Arkham Asylum on the older, weaker laptop, thanks to Onlive. (Neither of my machines had any luck with Gaikai, btw). Not only that, but when I travel, I can take my Onlive micro-console, which fits easily inside my suitcase, and can continue my "Hardcore" games from any hotel, without risking my gaming laptop getting lost or stolen.

    And when Onlive's cell phone app comes out, I won't even need that, as I can just bring a controller and a micro-HDMI cable and connect my cell phone to the hotel TV, and pick up my hardcore save games right off the cloud. And the cell phone app is supposed to let you connect from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection (i.e. Starbucks, doctors office waiting rooms, etc). I don't know about you, but I would rather play a full PC version of AC2 or Batman: AA than Angry Birds on my cell phone.

    Still think Cloud gaming is stupid? How about I don't need to upgrade my laptop every year just to play the latest games?

    True, Onlive at present is not AS GOOD as playing the same game on a maxed out machine, but since I can still play the latest games at great resolution with only rare lag issues from my weak laptop that would not even be able to install them otherwise, I think I will keep using Onlive, thank you VERY MUCH.
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