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Google Stadia - "Future of Gaming" announced at GDC 2019

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5 minutes ago, K said:

I guess you'd get some savings from sharing hardware, but not that much given that most people are at work during the day and asleep at night. The usage patterns of your customers are going to be the same regardless of whether the console is local or in a data centre somewhere. The majority of people are going to want to play from 8pm until midnight.

 

Yes, but not everyone plays every night (saving 1) or from 8 all the way to midnight (saving 2.) Obviously, 50m subscribers to a PS Now service need fewer than 50m PlayStations to be available for all but the highest of highest peaks. I don't see it's much different to broadband or Netflix in that regard.

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4 minutes ago, K said:

 

I guess you'd get some savings from sharing hardware, but not that much given that most people are at work during the day and asleep at night. The usage patterns of your customers are going to be the same regardless of whether the console is local or in a data centre somewhere. The majority of people are going to want to play from 8pm until midnight.

 

I think it's more about Microsoft's stated goal of reaching 2 Billion customers by 2020. Not everybody will want to pay out for a dedicated box and expensive games, this allows them to just rent it for when it suits them. Console growth in the RotW is not massively making a difference in the overall user distribution for the sort of games produced by the big Western/Japanese console-centric publishers, streaming should help a bit with that.

 

https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2018-03-15-microsoft-were-growing-our-gaming-business-beyond-the-console

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17 hours ago, joffocakes said:

Latency is the big issue that puts me off this sort of thing so it's good that responsiveness is one of the main things Google mention. OnLive and PSNow were terrible for action-oriented games.

 

Wasn't there some talk of Microsoft researching an input lag solution where the players actions are predicted by AI? I think it was discussed at E3. I wonder if Google's approach is similar?

 

Fun fact - Guitar Hero assumes that you will hit the next note if you got the last one, so it starts to play the sound anyway. Then when you do miss one, that's when it cuts off the sound and plays the *chunk* missed-note noise. It's not AI, obviously, but it's quite a clever solution.

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7 hours ago, RubberJohnny said:

 

Mate, have you seen 5G speeds? This is about making it so you don't need a $400 box, expanding the industry to the billions in emerging markets who only have phones.

The problem with seeing 5G speeds is that I saw 4G/LTE speeds, around the same time my home connection was relatively slow. When I first got an LTE phone, I could speedtest 45meg all day long. 3G was almost unusable by comparison. Fast forward today and LTE is a joke, as everyone migrated off 3G and LTE has the usual contention. This was just my carrier, but they're the biggest in the US. The comical thing is, carriers are sensing the potential to become the internet connection for people, but their ability to handle bandwidth (until over contended) is massively at odds with data caps. 

 

If you're in a country with forward thinking mobile comms, or live in reach of fiber, awesome. I hope the economies of scale don't eventually make a box under my TV prohibitively expensive while I wait for a regressive industry to provide  the requisite network connectivity.

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That's the crux of the problem with all these internet-based data hungry uses for it, who is going to foot the bill for the necessary pipework to feed the beast? Commercial companies clearly aren't incentivised enough to do it on their own.

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6 minutes ago, Uncle Mike said:

 

Yes, but not everyone plays every night (saving 1) or from 8 all the way to midnight (saving 2.) Obviously, 50m subscribers to a PS Now service need fewer than 50m PlayStations to be available for all but the highest of highest peaks. I don't see it's much different to broadband or Netflix in that regard.

 

That does make sense. I think the major difference is that its much more resource intensive to render, say, God of War at 4K than it does to decode a film at the same resolution. The current model pushes all of that rendering onto the consumer by making them buy the console up front, so they'll have to make that up through subscription fees. I can see that working, but was just wondering whether they could realistically get it cheap enough - >£10 seems like the point at which most people would say "fuck it, what's that? Three pints a month? I can afford that".

 

Very roughly, a PS4 Pro amortised over three years would cost just under £10. You'd have the expense of the service on top of that, plus the licensing fees for any games. It sounds expensive, but then again people pay what I consider to be fucking mad amounts of money for Sky subscriptions every month, so maybe I'm just tight. And I probably spend about £40 a month on games anyway.

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I don't really know anything about the PS4 equivalent, nor anything about the mooted Xbox service. They're much more just overclocked laptops, so I imagine a more standard server farm might do fine. The PS3 service was quite brute force and clever at the same time. They were literal PS3s, but with the video processing/output gubbins stripped off. So the client got the raw feed before video processing (and claiming back a few milliseconds of latency.)

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2 hours ago, Ste Pickford said:

 

That seems like a crazily complicated and convoluted setup, just to make the graphics on your game look a little bit prettier.  This is in the context of lots of people not really able to tell the difference between last gen and current gen (certainly true for fairly casual gamers - the sort of people for whom not-having-to-own-the-console is attractive).

 

It'a more than a bit prettier.  It would let them sell a 1080p console with a 4k streaming mode or a 4k fullfat 'offline'/X version.  Gives them a lower entry point of the bat that's not percieved as low rent as a dedicated streaming stick.

 

Doesn't preclude them using the cloud hardware to compete with Google using a browser/app client. As well as the casual gamer element, 'play your Xbox library anywhere' probably has some appeal.

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20 minutes ago, monkeydog said:

 

It'a more than a bit prettier.  It would let them sell a 1080p console with a 4k streaming mode or a 4k fullfat 'offline'/X version.  Gives them a lower entry point of the bat that's not percieved as low rent as a dedicated streaming stick.

 

It would have to be a 1080p console that has the full processing power locally to handle all the physics, movement, etc. if the game is running locally but with graphics settings turned down to low.

 

The CPU would have to be bang up to date (as well as the controller. etc), with only the GPU being a generation or so behind.  Hardly seems worth the hassle, especially when Nintendo seem to be doing very well with a console with a GPU a generation or so behind the cutting edge.

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Based on what Brad Sams was reporting about Xbox Scarlett earlier this summer it doesn't sound like the streaming Xbox will be running a full version of the game but it will be capable of handling more tasks locally than was typically the case with stuff like Onlives streaming box or the Steam link. Until we get more detail it's hard to know just what that really means. 

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Hard to see what difference it makes.  If it's streaming then you have the lag issue.   If the server is just somehow augmenting the visuals then the local client will have to wait for those visuals just the same.

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14 hours ago, JPickford said:

Hard to see what difference it makes.  If it's streaming then you have the lag issue.   If the server is just somehow augmenting the visuals then the local client will have to wait for those visuals just the same.

Presumably these sort of services will only be for the mainstream "fannying around" type of games, stuff like yer Assassin's Creed, GTA, Fallout, etc? Games that don't need lightning reflexes or precision control, so lag is less important. I can't imagine anyone will be playing stuff like Mushihimesama or Trials on this kind of setup.

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I absolutely agree with you that, for the obvious technical reasons, a streamed game will always be a compromise, at least from a gameplay point-of-view ... but the extent of that compromise will vary from game to game, and even from player to player depending on their tolerance.

 

Personally, I like fast-paced arcade games, so streaming is almost certainly Not For Me. But if I was interested in the types of games I mentioned above (slower paced, open-world games, more "consumed" than "played") then I could live with a bit of input lag, especially if it meant I didn't have to cough up £400+ for a console.

 

2 hours ago, JPickford said:

 I disagree that this is anything to do with fast reactions or precision.   It's about feel and responsiveness.

 

All part and parcel of the same thing, no? If a game is unresponsive, it doesn't matter how quickly or precisely you react. I think we're saying the same thing with different words.

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, peeveen said:

I think we're saying the same thing with different words.

 

 

 

 

Not really because I think feel matters for all games.  It isn't less important for some titles. 

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5 hours ago, JPickford said:

 

I disagree that this is anything to do with fast reactions or precision.   It's about feel and responsiveness.  Try using a mouse on a TV when not in game mode.  Anyone can feel lag and it just makes stuff feel bad.  It forces your brain to compensate.  Lots of people try streaming stuff and say it feels 'fine' and 'not noticeable' but if they could switch off lag it would just feel much better.  This is one of the reasons I dislike this concept so much; it fundamentally makes games worse in a subtle, insidious way.

 

I can agree with that sentiment, the problem is the true mass market does not give a fuck. If they can get it good enough, then it's good enough for Prime Time. People play on shit TVs with bad lag, and some locally rendered console games have woeful response times natively. The best case streaming technologies are already about as good or better than that.

 

Microsoft (as Phil Spencer himself was quick to confirm later) announced the Next Gen Xbox at the same time as they announced the streaming service, precisely because they knew they needed to assure the minority of people who do care enough about game responsiveness and are willing to pay for it that they aren't being left behind (yet). Ubiquitous and fast network connectivity was inevitably going to lead to this sort of thing becoming viable.

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I'd agree with that, I'm not sure Joe Public are that bothered, given the amount of F2P mobile tat they sink money into. And as you're relying on ever improving network infrastructure, combined with racks of servers, there's no end-user console hardware costs to recoup. It's no wonder Google are picking now to potentially jump in. Of course, they'll half arse it like everything else, but still. 

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12 minutes ago, JPickford said:

I'm not arsed about Joe Public though.  I'm expressing my own opinion and the sooner streaming dies the better.

I appreciate that, but Joe is where the money is. It really obviously isn't going away - Sony sunk a load of money into Gaikai, Microsoft keep harping on about their stuff, and Google are spinning up a gaming thing. 

 

My hope is that it continues to work in concert with dedicated hardware for those who would prefer it (or, given the state of internet connections, need it). And you know, if they eventually wind consoles down, I'll be off to the PC. These vast streaming things will be racks of PCs, so it's not like PC gaming can go away, as such. Plus, this entire concept is absurd as far as something like the Switch is concerned, so here's hoping for the continued mobile "niche".

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Is Playstation Now failing? Not asking to be contrary, I want physical devices, but I assume it's sufficiently not awful to warrant keeping alive. Or are they bank rolling a bad idea with more PSN money than they know what to do with, like the rest of Sony.

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Having used Shadow, I'd be more than happy to move to a streaming service at the right price point in the near future. 

 

I played a range of games and it felt no different to things I had played before. Now I am sure side by side I would notice something, but in isolation it was perfectly fine. Even something like GRIP didn't feel like it was affected by lag. 

 

Now I appreciate a professional playing Super Street Fighter would hate it, but it isn't aimed at those, as far as I can tell. 

 

I realise I am in the minority here though ;) 

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I played XCom Enemy Unknown on PlayStation Now a while back and even that game had annoyingly noticeable input delay and so forth. It was also quite variable, getting really chunky for a couple of seconds here and there. I would guess that it was probably a WiFi issue or a housemate downloading something that caused that, so not Sony's fault, but that's the real world experience that a lot of people will have. If that happened as I was about to score in FIFA or whatever I would be unhappy to say the least. Also, all my soldiers died in XCom and that was all due to lag and no other reason.

 

I'm completely with JP on this one - sending a controller input from your home, alllll the way to a server somewhere, waiting for it to be processed and then waiting for the results to be sent alllll the way back to your home is not how video games should be played. Especially Xcom. Bullshit aliens.

 

They were talking about this on a Bombcast recently(ish) and Jeff made the point that a streaming service might not lead to twitchy arcade and action games being compromised - it may in fact lead to that type of game just not being made any more. That's not a happy future.

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