Dyack Talks Cloud

So here’s the thing with Denis Dyack. When he starts talking he sounds pretty sane, he actually sounds like a very forward thinking developer with a good grasp on the future of the business. Then slowly he starts to contradict himself, and then just sound plain crazy. I feel like I’ve said something along these lines before.

In a talk at GDC Europe Dyack was again discussing the future of console gaming, looking at the possibility of cloud gaming in the future. He made some very good points on game piracy vs. other forms of piracy, notably that it would become essentially impossible with cloud computing as long as no-one breaks into the cloud servers. While other forms of media such as videos and music could simply be recorded, this doesn’t work with games. I mean not even the most hardcore pirates, completely opposed to paying anything for digital content, would be satisfied with a video of a game play through when what they really want is the game. Dyack is right when he says a system like this would “profoundly change the industry for ever.” Even if you put aside the profound difference it would make to the consumer if a system such as this was to become reality, the elimination of piracy can only be a good thing for both the industry and consumers. Just think no more uproar about prohibitive digital rights management software, no more worrying about how many digital copies of the game you’re allowed. The cloud takes care of all of that for the companies (and at the very least it would stop SecuROM and StarForce).

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He went on to make brilliant points about how cloud gaming would allow a continuation of the retro gaming revival, developers wouldn’t need to worry about compatibility issues between old games and modern hardware, they could just run either hardware or software emulation in the cloud and Bob’s your uncle (I bet you didn’t think you’d see that phrase today, I certainly didn’t expect to write it. I don’t even know anyone called Bob.)

Some how, still making sense at this point, Dyack made further points about a more level playing field through a single hardware platform, meaning that games such as Halo and Killzone wouldn’t be competing on the benefits of their respective systems but rather on gameplay. Sadly, this was where he started to go down hill and loose me a bit. In fairness this may be due to the Gamasutra write up of the talk, but some how I doubt it.

After stating that cloud computing would level the playing field, he then predicted that there will be multiple clouds rather than one. Developers, publishers and even the current hardware manufacturers could be running their own cloud services to stay in businesses. So unless they’re essentially acting as resellers of a single cloud back-end with standardized hardware, the very good level playing field argument that he just introduced immediately goes out of the window. I’m not sure he even realised just how contradictory these two points are. He does say that he sees a given cloud service as “just a connection”, like a TV provider, but if he genuinely believes that he really doesn’t understand how strongly attached the three manufacturers are to running their own hardware. It needs to be taken into account that there will still be a box sitting in the front room, and with the wide possibility of game inputs that seems to be springing up now a unified cloud receiver seems unlikely from a technical stand point alone.

Finally he dropped his bombshell, the point that I read over and over again. He sees issues such as lag and latency, you know the key technical issues in a cloud based system, as a ‘distraction’ that he doesn’t considering a long-term road block to the premise. Given the comments that pretty much the entire industry made after the announcement of OnLive I’d say he’s pretty alone in that belief. So from a brilliant start to a contradictory and bizarre ending. Such are the ways of Dennis Dyack.

Source: Gamasutra

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