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Evolution of (Cloud) Digital Distribution Systems in Gaming
Post by Harris McClintock, with Cloud Gaming Journal for Professionals
Digital distribution is getting
HUGE; applications such as iTunes provide the ability for digital products such as MP3s, movies and computer software to be
delivered to audiences over the Internet (i.e., Cloud!) instead of using physical media such as CDs, DVDs or Blu Ray.
With iTunes and the App Store ‘Apple’
may be the company that you think of when digital distribution is discussed but it shouldn’t be forgotten that tons
of video game consumers have been using these systems for years and recent announcement at this years Game Developer Conference
2009 have really shown that there are plenty more exciting developments to come.
Over the past 4 years gaming
has seen a HUGE rise in digital distribution systems; many customers have been more then willing to make the switch from obtaining
a physical copy of computer game software from a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop to downloading it through through distribution
systems such as Steam, Impulse, Xbox Live Arcade and PSN. Some of the advantages distribution systems have over their convention
Instant user feedback
Anti-cheating Systems for online
Downloading purchased-content from any location
For myself the big deal was the last bullet point.
Since I started using such systems when Steam first launched in 2003 there have always been
two questions for me. The first is is how long will be before we no longer need to download the game?
When can we stop buying into the expensive CPUs,GPUs and PPUs that games require
and let all the processing be done server side on the cloud?
The other was how digital distribution systems could move into different markets. In thewan region most gamers will
have broadband connections and a 9th generation console(or PC) since we are constantly after that new game and are a easy
target for publishers; but what about markets that don’t buy into the latest consoles and games?
India has a massive gaming market,
but one quite different from the situation in the USA with older consoles such as the Master System still seeing re-releases
as late as 2006.
Moving into the Cloud
Recently at the Game Developer
Conference 2010 it was announced that LiveOne is a game distribution system that promises to take the load away from your
computer and onto the cloud; allowing resource hungry games to play on modest hardware.
The LiveOne developers maintain that the
main bottleneck is bandwidth, with lower bandwidth users simply being met with a smaller screen resolution. This is really
exciting news for gamers; does it mean it mean that digital distribution and cloud computing will kill the console/PC spec
war, will we no longer go through generation after generation of video game consoles?
Although it would seem that Valve don’t think we are ready for such a radical
shift they are still moving in a similar direction with their product ‘Steam Cloud’. Although Steam Cloud still
delivers the game to the end user via a full download the idea is that variable data such as save games and settings are stored
in the cloud meaning users can log on from any terminal with the game installed and carry on from where they left off.
Expanding the Market
Gaming-Demo announced they would
be attempting to push digital distribution into ‘The Next Billion’ Market by creating a console that will sell
and distribute games through 3G or Edge networks using a virtual currency not unlike Microsoft or Wii Points.
The seems to be no shortage of publishers wanting their
games on the system; and a quick scan of the games that will be available (Crash Nitro Kart, Quake, Sonic Adventure to name
a few) would make it seem that these publishers are egar to bring their old games to new markets; with digital distribution
being the ideal means to do so.
is no secret that there is a huge amount of money in games and this is the driving force behind these incredible innovations.
As always though the technology will filter down and hopefully we will see the technology in other areas.
Could application processing in the cloud mean we see an end to the PC CPU/GPU
spec wars forcing PC manufacturers to focus their initiative in others areas? Will it mean that high-end programs will be
able to run on your mobile phone with a small client purchase simply being made over 3G/Wimax etc?