Is Gaming's Future In The Cloud?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Is Gaming's Future In The Cloud?

Today comes as the result of special request, folks, as I was shown a very interesting article from the folks out at Fortune. In it, they not only talk about what may well be the future of gaming, but also a potential reason why E3 wasn't all that hot this year. Turns out we may be looking in the wrong direction in terms of the future of gaming, and instead, we should be looking toward the cloud.

With companies like Gaikai and OnLive offering up a new kind of gaming experience, one that doesn't require particularly burly hardware options, it's enough to make users--and pundits--alike wonder if maybe the idea of progressively more potent hardware isn't necessarily the way to go. The concept of electronic-only game purchasing isn't exactly a new one, but it's one that's been looked at a bit askance in the framework of bandwidth. Let's face it; many do not have the kind of Internet connection that would be required to support digital-only delivery. Between bandwidth caps, and outright lack of bandwidth, that means a whole chunk of the market that's suddenly out of the game. No company wants to voluntarily tell potential cash-in-hand buyers "Go read a book, you redneck, you! We don't want your dirty no-bandwidth money!", so the idea of digital delivery was somewhat brushed aside.

But given the market trajectory as a whole--Sony's purchase of Gaikai, the Wii U's appearance, the leaked memos on the Xbox's future, and the overall lackluster game crop to come out of E3--and it's enough to make most anyone wonder, maybe this whole "digital delivery" thing isn't as half-baked as everyone thought.

Especially when Gaikai has managed to take what were formerly console-only Class A titles like Dead Island and Saints Row: The Third and make them browser games with their proprietary software.  That really got some attention.

However, one major holdout in such a revolution is Microsoft, who doesn't believe that streaming can do the job. They've even looked into it, based on earlier-recovered memos, and that would put them in a good position to know.  But even Microsoft offers at least some brand of digital delivery thanks to its Xbox Live Arcade.

Thus, we have an unusual position to consider. Might we be looking at a future where some systems go cloud and others don't? Might we be looking at a future where there are streaming-only and disc-based game systems? It's far too soon to tell; the early word says that we likely won't even see the new systems until next year's E3. Given the situation in the rest of the world, we may well never see them. But what we do see will likely be pretty impressive in its own right.
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