Sunday, June 24, 2012

Overwhelming Evidence Point Towards Cloud-Gaming-Ready ...

Over the last few years, the rise of companies and services like Gaikai, Onlive, and of course Steam have really shown that the industry is starting to lean towards cloud-gaming, and I?d even dare to say that the next-generation of consoles (which many say could be the last) WILL support some kind of cloud-gaming service to compliment the traditional console disc-based and digital download gaming functionalities.

Remember those rumors stating that Sony was partnering with Gaikai to bring PS1 and PS2 backward compatibility to the PS3 (or perhaps to Vita or future consoles)? There has to be some evidence that this will happen very very soon.

Could the next game systems implement cloud-gaming services and technologies?

According to Games Industry International?s sources close to the deal, the Sony + Gaikai partnership will include a way for third-party publishers (as well as first party Sony products) to bring their catalogues to the PlayStation Store.

And since most current PS3 Slim models do not have backwards compatibility, it only makes sense for Sony to employ a cloud-based gaming solution that will allow players to purchase games and stream them on their console. As well, they?re open to having the Steam Cloud (as evidenced by Portal 2 in 2011) and possibly other technology that made it easier for gamers to connect and play.

I?m sure it?s the same within Microsoft as they develop their next Xbox. Can you imagine how fast, easy, and user friendly it would be to purchase a copy of the 360 or 720 game on whatever could service they?ll offer, and instead of waiting for it to download, players can jump into the game without hassle.

That?s exactly what Steam, Gaikai, and Onlive subscribers have been doing for the last few years.

Did Valve?s Portal 2 Steam Cloud (PS3) open the doors for more cloud-based tech at Sony?

Both companies have started implementing cloud-saves for both of their consoles, and I?m sure thats a big signal that they?re on their way to welcoming cloud-gaming technologies to work with their own proprietary ones.

Sony has been eyeing cloud-based gaming solutions for a while now, a potential partnership with Onlive or Gaikai will help their R&D to test the waters and understand user needs for their next console release. Hell they were even in talks with Onlive just a year before to try and bring some kind of cloud-based gaming service to the PSN. Unfortunately it fell through, but it really does hold the door open for possibilities for the next-generation of consoles.

In many ways, Onlive has kind of kick-started the cloud-gaming console revolution with it?s own Onlive Microconsole (available for purchase on the Onlive website). It?s the size of a hard drive, and extremely easy to set-up and start playing. All I needed was an HDMI cable, an ethernet cable, and I was ready for play.

The Onlive Microconsole, cloud-gaming for your TV.

I could play all of the games I had purchased on the service on my PC on my Microconsole (connected to the TV) as well as the 200+ games that was part of the PlayPack bundle. No changing discs, almost no wires, no messy disc cases, built-in social media functions, and it took less than a quarter of the space taken by the bulky PS3 and 360.

Again, I don?t think that the next-generation of game consoles will be solely cloud-based, it?s not exactly going to be a cloud-gaming-only console future; it?s looking like cloud-gaming services will be an additional/complimentary service (or app) like Netflix, HULU Plus, and Amazon Instant Video, that gamers can access and that console manufacturers can tout as an extra selling point.

Do you think Sony or Microsoft?s next-generation consoles will feature cloud-gaming services?

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