Streaming services are nothing new, but if Ubisoft’s CEO’s latest comment is anything to go by it looks like hardware could become a thing of the past. Streaming services have always sounded good in premise, but for the most part nobody seemed able to crack the issues of lag and latency and it usually became a cumbersome ordeal. At least, that was my experience with Sony’s PlayStation Now streaming service. However with internet services becoming more reliable, and cloud storage offering the ability to play an entire game with nothing but a television and a controller, Yves Guillemot might not be far off the mark with where the industry is heading.
Having said that, he may have been a bit over zealous when he said “I think we will see another generation, but there is a good chance that step-by-step we will see less and less hardware” adding “With time, I think streaming will become more accessible to many players and make it not necessary to have big hardware at home.”
What’s interesting about this statement from is that it could be foresight into where he plans to take Ubisoft. The Ubisoft Club offering in-game purchases for title based on achievements across the companies games, makes it seem as though the developer are keen to experiment with how we see and play games. They now also have the fully working SAM assistant that can analyse and offer real time data on your game progress at the sound of your voice.
Imagine paying for your title, being given a code, putting that into your Ubisoft Club account and then having no need for a disk. Just upload it from Ubisoft cloud and play instantly. No update downloads needed, as titles will be automatically up to date from their end as it patches. It definitely sounds like a good idea, but again can today’s internet services handle that kind of player base? For the time being I think not, with the amount of concurrent players on Ubisoft titles and, indeed, video games as a whole. But remember, Yves said “there will be one more console generation and then after that, we will be streaming”. If this is the case, we usually see a 7-8 year shelf life on consoles, so essentially within the next decade we could see a viable streaming service, and that sounds reasonable. He also goes on to say
“It is going to help the AAA games industry grow much faster… We have to work on the accessibility of those games, to make sure they can be played on any device, but the fact that we will be able to stream those games on mobile phones and television screens without a console is going to change a lot of the industry.”
But it isn’t only Ubisoft that are foreseeing this change. Microsoft recently told Variety that consumers want to see games available on any device they own, and for the most part I believe that to be true. It would be awesome to get up to go to the toilet and be able to instantly continue playing my PlayStation 4 titles on my tablet or phone, #FortheShitters. Whilst streaming PC games is already well on it’s way to becoming viable, with numerous companies experimenting with different technologies that allow a person to turn any PC or Laptop into a high end gaming platform.
So, at least some major developers and hardware manufactures are thinking of how they’re going to produce their titles in the future. With consoles always limited to a terabyte or two of storage, it seems for the heavy gamer, like myself, an ingenious way of getting rid of the clunky hardware. But for others it doesn’t seem likely. Nintendo, still riding the success wave of the Switch, haven’t shown interest. Maybe Sony might drop a bombshell and announce the PlayStation 5 won’t actually be a console? Who knows, but one thing’s for sure, gaming as we know it is in flux.