CRank: 5Score: 0

The cloud, it's all up in the air.

Phil Spencer recently announced that the cloud demonstration demo was in fact a demo of how the cloud will be used in crackdown 3.

This is amazing and could very well herald in the future of gaming and the death of the need for hardware upgrades as time goes on if microsoft are able to get this technology to work as people hope it will. I do however have some deep concerns about cloud compute and my goal here is to share those concerns.

The price.

I worry about the price of cloud computing, it's well established that internet service providers are wanting to move to a metered Internet environment. The more you use, the more you pay. This brings into focus the fact that many people will have limited bandwidth use in the future and the idea that going over on a 12 hour gaming binge could cost them big.

Since the internet service providers have won on the net neutrality front (so far) it would be safe to assume that in the future companies who use a lot of bandwidth will be forced to pay fees to maintain a high speed. Microsoft likely would not want to eat these costs so it is entirely possible for the cloud functionality even in single player games to be behind the infamous pay wall meaning you would have to have a gold membership to play.

On top of possibly this:

A two tier gaming ecosystem.

Another concern of mine is the idea of a two tier gaming experience for xbox consumers. By this I mean if say crackdown 3 uses the cloud to better it's graphics but is still available offline at a lower graphics fidelity to cater to those who either have a limited bandwidth or no Internet at all you will have people paying the same price for the same product on the same system. Some will get the full experience and others will get the gimped version because they are either unwilling or unable to pay the monthly fee to get the premium content, the content they already paid for. All because microsoft is not relying on hardware all of its customers have but rather software not all of them have equal access to. This will be fantastic for those that live in cities and in places that have isp's that need to compete for custom but not so much for those that live in the country and have only one provider to choose from who happen to gouge their internet or not provide any at all.

Always online.

The always online agenda of microsofts vision that spurred so much controversy at its launch will be necessary if all future games are relying on the cloud, even if it's only AAA titles it will mostly make the console irrelevant to those without reliable internet. If microsoft does not create an environment of haves and have not with the two tier gaming I mentioned above and boldly states that all cloud games are simply online only then this will invalidate the purchase of any xbox ones that have been or will be bought before the cloud takes off for someone with little or no internet. If you fall into that category then congratulations you may very well have bought a 399-499 dollar doorstop!

That is it for my concerns on the xbox one and the cloud I just want to state a couple of things before the comments start rolling in. First off to anybody how goes on a tirade about how "everyone has the internet these days" just know that is simply not true. I myself have no home internet since my local area simply doesn't provide it. There are people like me all over america and indeed the world and they deserve to game just as much as you do and since they are paying the same for the product (not the service) it should be at the same quality as you.

Secondly for anyone that is going to label me as a ps4 fanboy I have this to say, as mentioned above I have no Internet and the ps4 is also a system that is internet heavy in its focus. The difference their being is that so far the Sony ps4 has not mentioned any way for gamers without internet to be discriminated against by having to play at a lower graphics fidelity or even not at all in the future. If they did this blog would be concerning the future of gaming as a whole without the focus on microsoft. I am not letting any preferences I have influence my points in this blog, my concerns are legitimate and I'm mind of sad gaming journalists have not asked microsoft about these very things. These are concerns thay consumers deserve answers to before they spend money and realize what they have bought is useless to them in the future.

Thanks for your time! Please keep the comments clean and thanks for reading.

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Software_Lover1470d ago

Make a game work without the need for internet, as they are doing now, add extra things if the connection is there. Simple as that. It's being done now.

You don't have internet, play the single player experience. You do, why not jump into some multiplayer? It's kind of Apples to Oranges, but the underlying premise is the same. Internet-no internet.

kingdip901470d ago

Why pay 60 dollars for a game that plays at a lower quality than those who pay the same and have the luxury of the internet?

That's one of my points.

darthv721469d ago

So you might need to amend this blog (as your last paragraph states) about the future of gaming. Because this venture isnt limited to MS.

If you think Sony has invested millions of $$$ in their online infrastructure to continue to cater to the least common denominator then you are in for a rude awakening.

Bottom line is pretty much ALL of these companies have tasted the sweet nectar of online transaction $$$$ and they arent giving that up too easily.

There will be games that are suited to your situation but mark my words. the amount of games that are more online oriented will outnumber the offline side by an even more significant margin this gen than any other before.

in the past it was internet recommended but not required (depends on the game). Now it is going to be internet connection required for full experience. And by full experience we are not just talking multiplayer but all manner of dlc and updates and any sort of social interaction (leaderboards, chat...etc). This will be more prevalent than ever before.

Sorry you are in such a predicament but based on your should consider getting back into the PS2 until things are sorted out for your area and internet access.

kingdip901469d ago (Edited 1469d ago )

I agree Sony are leaning towards the internet side of things also but they as well as microsoft saw the always online backlash. I feel that they would be more willing to keep internet less play an option, it could be me being nieve and I understand that. All I can say for sure is that Microsoft are making these moves towards offline play being impossible/gimped now where as Sony have not mentioned any such plans outside of services like ps now which will be service available to more products than just ps4. To suggest that it indicated the ps4 becoming online only is premature.

Edit @darth.

My point is if future games on xbox one become cloud reliant it will become only online.

You are correct that there is a difference between not having any function of line and having the primary function with none of the fluff offline.

That is my point exactly, the cloud could ruin the primary function of xbox one for people without internet. Where as future games on ps4 will still be playable.

It's a legitimate concern for me to have and people with the intention of making future purchases need to understand what the cloud could really imply. Internet brownout? Tough no games, no local internet? Tough no games, server support shut down? Tough no games and so on.

If this is the future of gaming as you say then gaming as we know and love it is going to die a slow death.

Maybe we should all crack out that old ps2 and play games we all OWN

darthv721469d ago

There is no indiction of the PS4 being online "only" but it is implied that the very design in online required.

There is a difference between "only" and "required" and sony's approach doesnt change the fact that in this day and age it is pointless to buy an internet capable device and NOT have the very basic means to support it.

Again, your situation is not unlike others but you chose to buy into a platform that you now can't take full advantage of because of environmental issues. Its akin to buying a boat and living in the desert. you can at least tell your friends you have a boat.

LackaJaKane1466d ago

"Why pay 60 dollars for a game that plays at a lower quality than those who pay the same and have the luxury of the internet?"

this is the norm in pc gaming. Not everyone can run a game at it's highest settings and have the same gaming experience, but pc games aren't priced based on the settings you can run. everyone pays the same price.

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 1466d ago
GutZ311470d ago

The demo shown by microsoft was running on a Gigabit network, wired.
Latency was a non-issue with the server(s) just feet away from the computer using the "cloud".

Price isn't an issue(Yet...). Microsoft isn't sending textures, or frame works, which could come in at Megabits or Gigabits in size. The data that microsoft would be sending back and forth would be in the order of Bits and Kilobytes.

Latency is the one true issue, as ISP's in the US at least, make it very hard to get reliable internet infrastructure.
I have Time Warner Cable, and at least once a month, I will have 6 hours of down time if not more. My speed is also throttled in the most underhanded way possible, through my upload speeds.

Knowing this, I also know I am not the only one that experiences issues like these, and know how buffering a youtube video only seconds long can take minutes.

With this in mind, (I could go into detail about the Ping, and how many milliseconds it takes for most media to refresh or recall)this all leads to a very yanky outlook for cloud computing making a real time impact.

Drivatars work, not because the infrastructure is there, but because all that happens is the drivers data is downloaded to your system before you even race, not streamed throughout.

I will not deny the science, all of the claims are totally factual.
What they neglect to tell you is that you would need to have a very stable internet connection, no other computers or devices connected to it taking up bandwidth, and at least (bare minimum)*5Mb/s download, with another 5Mb/s upload, not to mention a server farm being no more than 100 miles from your home doesn't hurt that ping.

Heres the problem in the US: Most internet providers don't offer any higher upload than 2Mb/s, and the ones that do are often drastically overpriced.

One saving grace is Google Fiber coming to many cities, making affordable gigabit networks a reality to cities big and small.
It also pushes internet providers to lower their inflated prices, because who can compete with $70 1Gb/s download, 1Gb/s upload?

When the US makes it law that the internet is a universal right, and offers free internet to all*(no such law is in the works for now sadly), we may then have companies working to please their paying costumers, rather than draining pockets, and laughing to the bank.

kingdip901470d ago

Sadly the ISP'S have lobbied state governemnts and have successfully made it illegal for anyone but them to lay new cable and provide high speed internet in 27 states. This is why Google fiber has been so slow moving as is only planned for release in specific cities.

It sucks

aragon1469d ago

whats the recommended speed for psnow? just a question and how much do u think ms would recommend? whats the difference between ms cloud services and ps now game streaming in terms of ping and bandwidth?

GutZ311468d ago

The tech PSnow is using has its own issues with ping.
Humans can notice lag in controls vs whats on screen after it reaches 180ms, PSnow is right at that point, or just under 80-90% of the time, the rest its more like 300ms(pretty horrible).
PSnow recommends 5Mb/s download speeds, but they suffer similar issues with upload not getting proper priority in alot of ISPs servers.

The difference in what PSnow is doing to what MS is trying to do, is that PSnow is utilizing your download alot more than your upload, similar to how we get streaming HD movies from netflix, only 15 frames out of the 30 shown are actually from the game, the odd and even frames, if you will.

Odd frames are straight from the game, and even frames are interpreted data reconstructed with 2 odd frames, and stuck in between them.
This makes the workload alot less than having all the data streaming 100% of the time, and can even scale the frames that are interpolated.
The only information you are sending are very small packets of input data, button presses made up of 1s and 0s extremely small in size.

On the other hand, using a network to calculate structure destruction would need more of both upload and download.
It must know your position in the world, your angle of attack, the force you exhibit(small gun vs rocket launcher), as well as everything else in the worlds location in real time for at least 1300ms*(this is a "guess", I would expect it to take as long as the building took to fall) to explode one building accurately, but then it would need to go static, never be able to move again, or only allow for a small percentage to move of the pieces if its still linked to cloud computing.
It will really come down to infrastructure to show off a cloud based future worth our time.

I will not deny that microsoft will be able to show some pretty cool stuff with the technology, my only gripe is that its a much smaller step then they make it out to be. This is not the future yet, we will see this come of age in less than 10 years time.

fenome1463d ago (Edited 1463d ago )

PS Now recommends 5MB/s, they also recommend us an ethernet cable. I've been using it wireless and it's worked fine for me (soley based on my experience). It even works fine at my girlfriends house and her wifi in the back bedroom sucks.

I haven't tried all the games because I don't agree with the 'price test'. I figure thebest way to test prices is by not paying them.

I can't speak for what Microsoft is doing because I don't know much about it and I haven't actually tried it myself. That's why I read the blog in the first place. I'm curious about where everything is headed, it's weird how gaming has changed over the years.

I'm going to do a quick connection test, and I'll update:

Just tested the connection (at my girlfriends house, horrible connection)

3.6 download
2.9 upload

It works here on these speeds. Granted the graphics are better at my house where the speeds are better, but the input is just as fluid at either house. I was skeptical about this stuff until I tried it. Now I'm intrigued by it and want to see what kind of stuff the future can bring.

mydyingparadiselost1470d ago

I agree with you on pretty much all of this, the cloud future MS wants to push is still cloudy at best. I would say though that Sony, while not doing the same thing, is also edging toward that direction with PSNow. Not the same thing by far but it would still be affected by caps, internet speeds and such.

incendy351469d ago

As for the first concern of price, that won't really be on your provider. The amount of data being sent back and forth is small. They aren't sending the graphics back and forth, just the calculated Vectors. The cost will be on Microsoft's Server that are computing those Vectors. Doing advanced lighting and destruction are impossible on Consoles not because of the Graphics but because of the computing time they require to calculate where things need to be. By offloading those calculation the game can still run its game code while the servers do all the calculations for you. The actual data being sent though will be tiny kilobytes of data packages.

As for always online. To me that is the silliest argument of all. That is the time we live in and it is awesome. If you aren't always online, then you have much larger issues than enjoying a video game. You are missing out on so much more.

kingdip901469d ago

I don't see location ad being an issue you can love the place you love and simply be out of range of an Internet provider. Microsofts heavy internet approach will limit it's user base and that is an issue if the competition can work anywhere there is electricity.

incendy351469d ago

True, but you also can't complain about it. You can also choose to live in places without electricity but hard to complain about not having it, if that is your choice.

kingdip901469d ago

"If" that is your choice. Things are not always so simple as how you seem to want to look at them, some people's situations do not allow a move.

A gaming company that is your favorite hobby neglecting you as a willing customer simply because you don't fit their demographic is something of a very legitimate complaint.