What does this mean for devs, gamers and gaming houses?
Game developers also have a lot at stake in this new model. Over time, this might eliminate the need for them to port and support multiple versions of their games for PCs, Macs, consoles, and maybe even mobile platforms. This would make life easier and allow them to put more resources into game design. It would also curb game piracy to at least some extent.
The biggest benefit to game houses might be the economic model. I’d assume that the providers would institute some pay-per-use scheme where consumers are micro-charged for every game minute - or millisecond, if they can. I’d argue that this would encourage people to try new games and new types of games, sort of like the advent of iTunes brought a lot of people back into being active music purchasers. If they can truly deliver a great game experience on multiple platforms, and if pricing is reasonable, I think that a lot of non-gamers will at least dip their toes into the gaming pool. If this happens, then the industry could see explosive growth.
But what about consumers? For the novice and anyone who currently uses a console, this could be a version of gamer heaven. They’d be able to play on whatever device they have at hand and have a ‘GPU-tastic’ gaming experience. I think their game dollars will go quite a bit farther too – assuming that there’s plenty of competition out there. They won’t be dumping their consoles right away – they’ll need a smart TV or some other relatively simple device that attaches to their TV, receives the stream, and handles controller input.
One constituency that won’t be happy are the highly devoted gamers. I’m not sure the initial performance will meet their standards. Again, it’s like when MP3s and iTunes-like services started making inroads. The sound quality was clearly worse, and the ear buds and players weren’t much better. But it was so damned convenient. Files small enough that you could cram a lot into a small storage space. Songs cheap enough that you’d try some different artists just to see if you liked ‘em enough to buy more. Buying just the song you wanted, not an entire album full of dreck.
Ultimately, I think it’s this type of convenience that will drive the cloud gaming market to success. It might take a few tries, but eventually it’s going to happen. Power users might not be huge fans at first, but over time the market will provide faster services to appeal to the extreme performance types.
We’ll also see variations on the other extreme as well – old and bad games running on even older gear priced at rock-bottom rates to appeal to cheapskates. Eventually there will be a provider geared to almost every taste, and maybe even the ability to be your own provider by renting some cloud boxes for you and your pals. ®
The other thing keen gamers might not be happy with is not owning a copy of their games. Personally, I regularly play games I bought 5-15 years ago, on various platforms, using emulators and such; I don't trust companies like nVidia not to go bust or discontinue their services in this timescale. I only buy games on Steam that I'm fairly sure I won't ever want to play again.
"Average human response time"
Human response times don't vary very much around the mean. Pro athletes have an advantage in that they are better at anticipating what is going to happen next.
For example a batsman in cricket will read cues from the bowler's body language to determine what the delivery is likely to be. This has been shown in testing of elite cricketers with shutter goggles that blind them at the moment of the ball's release; they are largely still able to defend the delivery based on the information they've acquired up until that point. Among the best bowlers are those able to mask these cues, confusing the batsman.
Anyway the idea that pro gamers and athletes enjoy one quarter of the reaction time of an average human is pretty much nonsense.
This. I'll still buy online only games if I really want them and can't get them any other way, but I always have a moment's regret knowing that there will probably come a day when I can't play them any more. I try to avoid it if possible.
It's less of an issue for DRM-free titles, as in cases like the Humble Bundle. And many other games can be cracked. But a more comparable situation might be something like Starcraft 2, where support for multiplayer is entirely dependent on the developer's ongoing service. What if Blizzard went out of business? That would be rather harder to keep playable, and this tech sounds like it would have similar limitations by design.
Also it's nice having something physical on the shelf. Collecting is fun.