Is the Cloud the Future of Gaming?
Though many may consider the $17 billion spent on video games last year to be quite a large some, it nevertheless represents a $1.5 billion decline in sales from the previous year. One large factor that may play a significant role in these declining video game sales is the lack of a new console. New games drive a certain amount of new sales, but new consoles—the devices upon which the games are played—drive sales even further, as consumers are forced to purchase new titles to match their new systems. It may simply be the case, however, that console developers such as Microsoft and Sony are struggling with finding ways to improve on existing technology.
Some consumers have expressed a sentiment that might be viewed as the other side of this conundrum’s coin: while developers are not sure how to improve, the players of the games are not sure that improvements need to be made. To many game players, the existing technology is already so good in terms of the game play experience that improvements have reached a point of diminishing returns. The time and expense of further improving these consoles may not translate to sales of new consoles, as gamers are content to sit pat with the “good enough” consoles that they currently own.
Consumers have expressed other concerns, as well. One of the only new consoles coming out in the near future is the Nintendo Wii U, which features a touch screen on the controller that makes it possible to play without the television. However, game players have pointed out that this level of innovation may simply represent a complication rather than an improvement. With the Wii U, they will have one more device to track and keep charged. Another proposed technology with a similar issue is the replacement of screens altogether with immersive goggle displays.
However, there is one new technology that may actually simplify gaming, rather than complicating it. For years, gamers have complained of the need to lug around bulky games in their cases. Developers are beginning to realize that it may be simpler for gamers (and distributors, in terms of production costs) to simply store games online, on the cloud, so that they can be accessed anywhere, from any console. Sony has even gone so far as to purchase the cloud gaming business Gaikai, which not only stores games online, but renders them online in real time, which eliminates the need for a console.
There are certain games, such as first-person shooters, where the online rendering would not work at current technology levels. As players have pointed out, in an online multiplayer game, if one player’s internet connection lags, then they are exposed to players playing with faster connections to the online processor. With that in mind, other companies, such as Microsoft, are going other directions, such as developing a console that would allow tuning of the television online—in effect, a game system acting as the traditional cable box. These expansions of the console’s role in the home would leave behind certain developers, such as Nintendo, who only focus on games.
Sheila Genson enjoys writing about various things tech and gaming. She loves gaming and enjoys writing about tips and tricks for Diablo 3 gold find and other PC games that she also enjoys.