Leaders Talk Cloud Gaming Before 1st-Ever Conference

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 Farrell

Brian 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 Perry

David 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 Hilleman

Richard 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 Bartel

Tony 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?

  • christop
    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.
  • kinggraves
    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.
  • clonazepam
    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.
  • bak0n
    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.
  • legacy7955
    The Powers That Be want to make you a SLAVE to the cloud!

    Death to the Cloud!
  • Xyos
    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! :)
  • bystander
    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.
  • alidan
    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.
  • Parsian
    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.
  • redgarl
    Why wasting money on an immature concept when you can get a really good graphic card for 100$?