Denis Dyack's company, Silicon Knights, creates games. Games like Too Human, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem and Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Dyack himself, however, often creates controversy, with either his no-holds-barred battles with gaming boards or his no-holds-barred opinions on gaming. The latest think-piece from Dyack predicts a future where games are played through "cloud computing" and game stores are relegated to the dust-bin of history.
Dyack makes a compelling argument. The decline in CD sales due to copying, as well as the likely decline in movie sales, Dyack says "Technology is commoditizing the value of traditional linear entertainment towards zero." But that won't happen to games, opines Dyack, because games are in a unique place. You can't just point a video camera at a dude playing Gears of War 2, capture some footage, and distribute it on BitTorrent. The experience of playing the game is really what game companies are selling, as opposed to the physical media that contain the code of the game. We're paying for the interactivity of the medium.
Like movies and music, however, cracking, copying and distributing game data is relatively easy, and in Dyack's mind, will continue, no matter what strategies are tried to stem the tide. Here is where the "cloud" comes in: Dyack predicts a future in which:
"Technology [allows] us simply to broadcast a video signal (games) at 60fps at 720p through a server. The only piece of hardware required would be a controller at the end where the gamer sits by his or her HDTV. Suddenly there is no longer any need to download software, as one can just subscribe to a provider. This would work with all software, such as Microsoft Office, for example."
This "eliminates piracy 100 percent since the consumer does not have anything to copy and needs only to log into the Cloud to interact," but we all get to play awesome games. As a side-note, stores that sell games go out of business and there are no used-game sales which is okay with Dyack, as he sees used game-trade as "theft or illicit trade."
Dyack's logic is tight, except for one key point: Dyack, basically says all games are ultimately crackable, which is true. But it seems to me that by the same token, any "cloud computing" scheme would be open to exploitation as well. You could easily predict a future where gaining access to whatever game is currently hot on the World Wide Cloud creates a black market of spoofed, stolen or exploited accounts to access it. Trying to prevent this theft could create draconian login procedures that ultimately drive legitimate consumers away, in much the same what that online verification of some software often spooks users. Not to mention the "haves Vs. have-nots" culture that could develop as gaming quickly stratifies into those able to afford membership fees and the less-fortunate. Right now, I generally give my games away to people when I'm finished with em. That would be no more, in this possible (probable?) future.
As far as when this will happen: Sooner than you think. "If you are wondering about the technology for the Cloud, it already exits," Says Dyack. "We will likely see public tests in the near future."
What do you think, TheFeed reader. Are you excited to game in the clouds, or will you just stick with your discs, thank you very much.