Gaming Industry Looking to Play with Cloud ComputingNovember 4, 2013 No Comments
The gaming industry is harnessing the power of cloud computing to bring users a higher fidelity game experience and, among other benefits, unique game-sharing opportunities.
Embracing the cloud has a lot of benefits for gaming consoles, and also has the possibility to open a new sales model. Both Sony and Microsoft have been jockeying to win the favor of developers—a sentiment solidified by indie games’ strong presence at both E3 and Gamescom. A console could conceivably offer a seamless free-to-play demo cloud that allows users to try many indie games without risking space on a hard drive. Sharing is also valuable, as users can open their cloud up to friends and family fairly easily.
Microsoft has big plans for the cloud and the Xbox One. In a blog post, and subsequent interviews, Xbox Live’s Lead Program Manager, John Bruno, said that Microsoft’s network of cloud servers will power the dedicated multiplayer servers for the console’s games and augment its processing abilities as its hardware becomes dated, according to an article on VRzone.com.
Having dedicated servers would allow more players to join a multiplayer match, and provide more gameplay stability. While dedicated servers are common in PC gaming, they are a rarity in the console world. Most Xbox Live multiplayer sessions are hosted on a player’s console, which can prove problematic should that player have a bandwidth-constrained connection or an outage occurs.
Bruno said Xbox Live Compute will be able to offer gamers “higher fidelity game experiences” by allowing developers to effectively load balance computations with the cloud. During a scene in a game that’s taxing on the console’s hardware, a developer could have the cloud compute the scene’s physics and AI while it handles everything else locally.
Speaking to Games Beat Bruno explained why Microsoft is pushing the Xbox into the cloud.
“About a year and a half ago we sat down with some developers and tried to figure out how we could leverage some of the assets we have at Microsoft from a computing standpoint,” he said to Games Beat. “What we found is that developers were very interested in doing more on server, particularly in the area of things like dedicated-server multiplayer and even pushing the boundaries of what is done from a peer-computing standpoint. But a lot of them didn’t have the resources or didn’t necessarily want to make the risky investment.”
Gaming is big business. Nearly 65 percent of U.S. households play videogames. On average, gamers play 18 hours per week, although this number may jump since the release of Grand Theft Auto V. Overall sales of retail video games in September surged 27 percent, fueled by a leap in software led by Take-Two Interactive’s criminal escapade GTA V.
Patrick Burke is a writer and editor based in the greater New York area and occasionally blogs for Rackspace HostingCLOUD COMPUTING, Fresh Ink