One of the key developers of Microsoft DirectX application programming interface (API) said in a column that the future of remote video game streaming services was not that bright, at least with the current content.
“The hard to accept reality is that traditional games designed for retail distribution are simply dead in an online world and frankly the publishers of these games will ultimately die with them because they can’t afford to adapt. Streaming the same content ‘on-demand’ won’t save them,” said Alex St. John, who, along with Craig Eisler and Eric Engstrom, created the original Microsoft DirectX specification.
Mr. St. John is the second executive affiliated with Microsoft, who claims that remote video-game streaming services like Gaikai or OnLive are not going to be economically feasible and, as a consequence, are not going to deliver high-quality experience to end-users. In fact, even Sony Computer Entertainment believes that local consoles or PCs are going to stay on the market for many years.
Some game developers still believe in the bright future for appropriate services. Last week Hideo Kojima, the designer of Metal Gear Solid series of video games, claimed that eventually game systems would disappear and end-users would be able to enjoy games everywhere. But while the key developer behind DirectX does not believe into streaming services with today’s content, eventually on-demand gaming may get more traction.
“I would not be surprised to see successful future games that are designed to be delivered as streaming video, but a new streaming delivery technology will not create a new online second life for this dying genre of content,” added Mr. St. John.
Remote video game streaming services have three main advantages over contemporary consoles or personal computers: gamers do not need to buy expensive hardware (which means that more people can be addressed), gamers do not need to acquire games themselves in a retail stores or carry any physical media (which makes games more affordable or even free in certain cases), gamers cannot pirate software.
But while remote game streaming services have a number of benefits, they are hard to implement from technology standpoint: Internet still generates input lags, video needs to be compressed and decompressed, etc. Moreover, their economic model also does not seem to be really feasible: one customer should be provided with enough performance to play a game with 1920x1080 resolution with all the bells and whistles enabled, which typically means dedicated graphics processor and at least two CPU cores, something not exactly cheap.