This year, both Sony and Microsoft will release their next generation gaming console. I am looking forward to seeing exactly what features they will add besides faster CPUs and GPUs. One such reported feature is cloud gaming
Excerpt from an article in the Guardian:
Last year Sony spent $380m on the California-based company Gaikai, which has developed a cloud-based technology that lets users play as games are streamed over the internet. Microsoft has hinted that the new Xbox will support cloud-based gaming.
It is likely, then, that both next-gen consoles will offer something akin to Spotify for games, allowing players to stream or download new titles in exchange for a monthly subscription.
This is a great idea particularly for gaming, although it is widely dependent on bandwidth. I do however like the idea of being able to also play games on mobile devices via a cross-platform system. The issue though is that both Sony and Microsoft hope to tie it to their respective mobile and handheld platforms such as Xperia, Vita and Windows phones.
This is a big mistake. why? The main reason is they will be forgoing a large number of mobile device users on Android and iOS. The lure of being able to play their playstation or xbox game on their phone will not be enough to make them switch to an Xperia or Windows phone.
I am not suggesting that they just give up, but that they consider alternatives. If Apple does open up the Apple TV to gaming through an SDK, they will most likely win the mobile (and possibly home) gaming market by share size of users alone. What Sony and Microsoft need to do is open up their platform significantly.
Imagine if when you buy a Playstation and pay a monthly fee, you get access to the best games in the world on your mobile device possibly by using the Gaikai technology. However in order to add a non-Xperia or Vita device to your account, you would have to pay an additional fee a month.
This fee will be shared with the mobile network providers for unlimited game streaming/downloading separate from your mobile account.
Here is how such a system could work by splitting local gaming at home and gaming on the go:
At home with your console, you can either buy the full disk version from a store or download the entire game over your internet connection. As you play and without prompt, your basic game data such as how many lives you have left, how many things you have collected and how far you along you are etc. are saved. When you are done playing or if something comes up, you can just turn off the game and go.
When on the go with your device, there would be a two options depending on choices made by the game developers and how graphically intense the game is.
If the game is graphically intense and therefore hard to run on certain mobile devices, you can connect to the game in the cloud and continue from exactly where you left off at home. As long as you are connected to the internet, the game will continue to stream and you will not be charged any extra data from your wireless provider.
If the game is not so graphically intense, it can be scaled down (or a specific mobile version can be developed) to work seamlessly with all the same game features and downloaded as an in-app download tied to your mobile device app.
For example, Sony would have a Playstation mobile app that allowed in-app downloads of games you purchased for your console or vice versa. Once downloaded, you start from wherever you left off. Since the basic data is saved in the cloud, it updates your account and you continue playing the game on your phone or mobile device and can immediately pick up from there when you get home and want to play on the bigger screen.
Level by Level
Developers could also allow for downloads of each stage separately to reduce game sizes for mobile devices. This way, you can download only the level you are on and maybe the next level till you pass that level. As you play, each subsequent level will be downloaded while you play the current level allowing you to play the next-level even if you lose internet connection but lower the space required if the entire game is large.
This could also allow developers the ability to add new levels online for game upgrades, or even when building a continuous story game that continues over many years, build shorter mini-games in between that can be downloaded and keep users entertained before the next epic version is released.
Social games could also be easily shared as someone on their mobile device could play against someone on their home console head to head.
Sony and Microsoft are entering a battle for the next-gen gaming console. One that will continue to be profitable and they are about to lose if they don’t make changes to their plans. They are choosing a shrinking market instead of going after an expanding market.
Both Android and iOS are dominating the gaming market, but just imagine if they developed this gaming platform that could work on multiple devices and build on game epics allowing people to play any game they want when they want as long as they have the console and pay monthly for access to that content. Imagine what happens when the Android gaming consoles come out and all they need is the Playstation or Xbox app to play the same games.
Developers will flock to the system as there will be a larger number of people buying games, even if they only buy the mobile versions. A Platform that has the ability to be mobile will win in the long run.