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Bethesda Is Getting Ready For Streaming

The Fallout and Elder Scrolls studio says game-streaming will "absolutely" be viable.


The music, TV, and film industries are already heavily involved with streaming, and while the video game industry is an increasingly digital business, streaming adoption remains limited. That could change in the future, as some higher-ups in gaming believe viable and widespread game-streaming technology is close(ish) to becoming a reality.

Sony already operates a game-streaming service in the form of PlayStation Now, while Microsoft is working on its own game-streaming service. Electronic Arts is creating a streaming platform of its own, while Japanese gaming giant Capcom and Ubisoft are streaming some of their biggest games on Nintendo Switch in Japan--and Capcom specifically is planning to do more in the future.

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Fallout 76
Fallout 76

This is all to say that streaming is poised to become a bigger piece of the pie in the years ahead. Bethesda, the publisher of huge franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom, Rage, and many others, is preparing itself for a future where streaming is even more popular than it is now.

"Absolutely it is [going to be viable]," Bethesda marketing boss Pete Hines told GameSpot recently.

Bethesda's numerous studios are already looking into how they can get ready for an industry that places more of an emphasis on streaming. Without any pressing on my part, Hines referenced "next-gen consoles" as it relates to streaming, which is intriguing given that one of rumours circling now is that one of the new Xbox consoles Microsoft is working on will be a streaming box.

"It's absolutely something all of our studios have been involved in and looked at and thought about as we talk about what we do going forward," Hines said. "Whether it's where next-gen consoles are going, or what's streaming is going to be like, or whatever. So yeah, it's something that is on everybody's radar and they think about as yet another platform essentially."

Hines has already talked about how he knows "some stuff" about the next wave of new consoles, so his comments are all the more alluring with that context.

Streaming content like movies, music, and TV shows is considered generally easier from a technical standpoint because they are less involved in comparison to video games that have numerous different processes and under-the-hood wizardy happening. There is also the matter of input lag. It's exciting to think about being able to stream a game like Assassin's Creed: Odyssey in your browser, but any amount of significant input lag might turn people away. What's more, streaming any kind of media requires a capable and consistent internet connection, which could pose problems for people in some parts of the world.

Rage 2
Rage 2

Services like PlayStation Now and Google's Project Stream are already demonstrating that streaming is an exciting and viable proposition, but it is still early days. Physical media is not going away anytime soon, nor is playing games on local hardware. The second of Microsoft's rumoured new Xbox consoles is a more traditional system that plays games locally, according to a report from Brad Sams, with the streaming box offered merely as an option for those who want it.

Hines' new comments about streaming come after he talked about how he would like the industry to get to a place where you can buy a game and play it wherever you want. Andrew Wilson, the CEO of EA, said during a presentation recently that he sees a future where you can play games on any device you want, with streaming/cloud gaming help accelerate that shift. Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive, has said he believes streaming will help accelerate the industry's transition away from "closed" systems.

Presumably companies like Bethesda, EA, Take-Two, and others are briefed on announcements before they are made public, so it's intriguing to hear top executives at each company independently say much the same thing about where the industry and new consoles may be headed.

Video game streaming hasn't been a total success story so far, as you may recall the OnLive service shut down before it ever got much of a foothold.

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