Friday, 7 September 2012

Square Enix's Opinion on OnLive's Problems and Cloud Gaming

Square Enix is a big supporter of OnLive and cloud gaming. Lately they have also launched their Core Online cloud gaming service. GamesIndustry had an interview with Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada and Square Enix Europe CEO Phil Rogers about their involvement in cloud gaming, their newly launched Core Online service and OnLive's problems.

Phil Rogers said that OnLive's issues haven't really affected their thought processes on Core Online and guessed that in some ways they've been travelling fast. There's a lot been written about the OnLive situation and often pioneers end up in a position where they get shot in the back. It's very hard to work out exactly what went on but he thinks it comes down to the fundamental view that giving customers more choice, new ways to play and new ways to pay doesn't mean it has to work, but there must be some logic there. They're increasingly thinking about the business model. Maybe there are operational things that they need to avoid. He also said that they have been working on the Core Online service for a few months.

Yoichi Wada talked more of the whole picture in the computing and gaming industry and how it relates to cloud gaming. He said that currently, time is shifting quite quickly - the industry is changing, and they need to do some experiments. They perceive Core Online as a big experiment, in terms of both technology and business model. On the technology side, if we look back on the last 30 or 40 years, the pendulum has been shifting from server to client and back again. First it started with IBM Mainframe and the clients were just an empty box. Then the pendulum shifted to the client with the Microsoft PC. With Google, and web browsers, most of the functions shifted to server side again, then Apple shifted it back again. They think that there's going to be another shift.

Wada added that with the web browser, they think that the application is going to shift onto the server side, but the CPU and GPU will remain on the client side. Eventually, both CPU and GPU will shift to the server, meaning a fully-fledged cloud computing era. The next three to seven years until then, they think will be a transitional period, where software is on the remote side, but hardware is local.

Wada also said that the games industry itself is unique - it's seen a long period of quite client heavy development, it's not really used to what's happening, the changes we're facing at the moment.

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