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Will Wright: Cloud Gaming is Definitely The Future

In a recent interview with GamesIndustry, The Sims creator Will Wright said that cloud gaming will be the future of the industry. That's because consumers typically own more than one Internet-connected gadget: a desktop PC, a laptop, a console, a smartphone and/or a tablet. Having a title that's accessible on all these devices at any time will be much more "sticky" than something consumers are forced to mainly play on a desktop PC or iPhone. Even more, cloud-based games will hit a much broader group of players.

During the interview, he also indicated that free-to-play may be the way to go for future titles, as gamers will more than likely take a bigger risk in trying something new than with $60 retail titles. F2P games allow players to pay for the content they want -- if they don't like the game, they can move on to something else having lost nearly nothing.

"There's very little risk in trying something new, as opposed to spending 40 bucks on a game and maybe you'll like it and maybe you won't," he said. "I think people were a lot more risk-averse under the old model, the shrink-wrap model. It has its pluses and minuses; it is bringing in a much wider group of players than we had before. The demographics are expanding, which long-term I think has to help."

As pointed out, there were many sequels at E3 2012 back in June, but very few new IPs in the AAA space. That's because publishers may be much more risk-averse to spending twenty or thirty million dollars on a title. New IPs will likely stem from a Zynga-type environment where very little is invested -- start small and try to grow it up. This type of approach encourages experimentation, he said.

"I think before the only thing people were willing to bet on were sequels; that was really the only predictable genre," he said. "Now the fact that you can do a game for an extremely low cost, put it out there and see if it gets any traction is going to encourage more diversity."

One of the key issues of development is learning from the audience as Mojang showed with Minecraft. The studio released an alpha and slowly built the current product with the help of the Minecraft community. The Mass Effect 3 scenario where the community complained to the point that BioWare released a new ending is a perfect example of developers needing to listen to their customers. Still, game creators should see their original vision carried through until the end, and let both the developer and consumer shape the product thereafter.

"I think you should listen to the market," he said. "But a lot of times with a brand new experience, when you start describing it to people before they can experience it they'll say it sucks, or 'we've never seen anything like it so we can't really envision playing it in our head'. I think there's still a lot of room for someone with an artistic vision that's not going to survive focus groups, but if a person holds true to that vision you're going to end up with something that wouldn't exist otherwise."

To read the entire interview, head here.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • The games still need to be ported to each device Wright lists (desktop, laptop, console, smartphone, and tablet) for at least the next 5 years because people DO NOT WANT games that they can ONLY play when online. That is a REQUIREMENT for cloud gaming. For many US customers, broadband connections are still not always available where they live, work and/or play. Customers want to be able to play when on the move (in the car, plane, bus, and train), and broadband internet connections when on the move is not yet commonplace. Therefore, games will need to run locally, namely on the device the customer is holding in their hands when they are NOT ONLINE.
  • hoofhearted
    This guy is an idiot! All cloud based gaming equals is online always DRM like Diablo 3. I want to purchase my game and play as I want without having to worry about my savefiles going away if the company gets hacked. These games won't stand the test of time either. Once interest and support has feigned, the game goes away.

    Then this F2P crap is just that, crap! Games that nickel and dime you to death for virtual stuff. I like to pay for a game and know that I have a "complete" game. Even if the F2p title starts out as not pay-to-win, as interest declines, it will eventually end up as pay-to-win.
  • cscott_it
    I think cloud gaming has some potential. It's not viable for mid/high end gaming, but I think it's certainly on it's way and worth considering for your social gamers and non-hardcore gamers.

    Square is re-releasing FF7 - I could see that as a chrome browser plug-in and everything is just streamed to your browser session - then updates are posted to Social Media of your choice and it could include non-invasive ads or in-game advertising as a revenue stream as a non-traditional FTP model (rather than using micro-transactions)

    This sort of stuff has been a long time coming. I recall a network engineer I used to work with wanted to do something like that using Xenapp, but the tech wasn't in place yet. I think we'll see it start to emerge in the next 3-5 years pretty heavy with decent graphics.
  • nforce4max
    I think Cloud is nothing more than a Trojan horse by controlling corporations to further limit what the consumer gets to own let alone use. Without an online service it is pointless as some live far outside serviceable areas or have very limited connections bandwidth wise or total data use. With all the data caps such a concept is extremely limited unless one is only using it for word or excel docs.
  • A Bad Day
    My 20 MB/s down network typically has 400-1200 ms of latency with major packet loss (1%-15%) during medium load, average of 10-15 MB/s download.

    So, no thanks.
  • back_by_demand
    A mixture of Cloud and local files is the more likely option, a bit like Steam games, the main game files are installed locally but all your settings and game saves are cloud sync'd
    Combine this with Windows 8 on a USB stick and I can take my all my local Steam content with me as well
  • ashesofempires04
    Will Wright's as much of a myopic dreamer as Peter Molyneux when it comes to stuff like this. Cloud gaming won't take off any time soon, because of the bandwidth caps, latency problems, and general unreliability of Server-based gaming. The only real valid point he makes is that buying a $60 game and having it available for all platforms would definitely improve the game's value. After all, it is essentially the same piece of software, I shouldn't have to buy it multiple times.

    However, he's dreaming if he thinks that the Zynga approach to building games will ever result in a facebook game becoming AAA quality and still F2P. It doesn't happen, because of the exponentially increasing costs of development that AAA titles have over crappy facebook games. AAA titles get made into facebook games: Sims for facebook, not coincidentally is a Will Wright game. He's preaching about going forward, but in reality he's simply moving his garbage backward.
  • skaz
    I'll keep my GPU in house thank you.
  • bak0n
    Still misses the point that bandwidth caps are in place amongst a growing majority of users. Unless people are casual gamers or want to pay overage fees then this will never catch on.
  • DRosencraft
    The thing you have to remember about a lot of these articles about what the future of is that it's not really about what trends the consumers like/want, but what is the next logical iteration, and what will make more money for the product maker. Case in point, most people if you asked them ten years ago would not care too much about being able to play their PC game on a console, or on some handheld device. It's not that no one thought of it, but no one really wanted or cared about it. But for producers it makes a lot of sense, getting you to always play their games and produce the illusion that you always need to be connected to them. In reality I wonder how many people even will end up migrating their games around a bunch of devices. If you have a gaming rig, will you really want to suffer the downgrade in everything just to scratch an itch to play it while you're waiting for a bus? Again, this just makes things easier/more profitable for producers. They make one game and port it everywhere, the same way PC gamers complain about what they do now with porting console games to PC.