IGDA chief: Cloud gaming costs to rise

Cloud gaming services will increase development costs and ultimately increase costs of games to consumers, head of game developers' association says.

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Who was there: Gordon Bellamy, International Game Developers Association executive director.

What was said: Bellamy claimed that cloud gaming is "set to revolutionise the industry." Download speeds are on the rise around the world, and this means that the amount of bandwidth needed to stream games is finally becoming "palatable." Streaming also brings PC gaming to significantly more people as it lowers the barriers to entry, with device specifications becoming much less of a factor.

The Crysis franchise is still held up as the gold standard for graphical fidelity and hardware-taxing software, according to Bellamy.
The Crysis franchise is still held up as the gold standard for graphical fidelity and hardware-taxing software, according to Bellamy.

Advancing mobile technology--specifically 4G LTE networks--means that mobile devices present a significant opportunity for anyone to get into games. Cloud gaming, Bellamy said, would also become a main selling point for connected TVs and set-top boxes, and this will mean that games will reach homes that wouldn't have purchased a console otherwise. Finally, browser-based games are going to continue to improve, and the next generation of social games in the cloud will see massive improvements in terms of performance and graphics, thanks to advances in standards.

Tiered data systems and data caps have the potential to disrupt this, Bellamy said, pointing out that as carriers and ISPs continue to restrict their customers' access, the real cost of cloud gaming to consumers could increase. This means that companies need to be aware of potential bandwidth limitations and be "nimble" so that they're not caught out.

However, it's not all good news for gamers. An "increase in software cost" is inevitable with cloud services, he said--and the increase in digital distribution services such as Valve's Steam and EA's Origin will help cut down used-game sales. This increase in cost will be passed on to both developers and consumers. The new technology will result in a need for more staff and more expertise, which naturally leads to increased development costs. Publishers will increasingly sell cloud features as extras for disc-based games and will use this to allow them to charge a premium for those services.

Takeaway: Cloud gaming is in the process of revolutionising the industry but has the potential to increase the cost of games for consumers even as it reduces hardware costs and other barriers to entry.

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