Valve's Gabe Newell skeptical of cloud gaming potential

If anyone was holding out hope for a cloud gaming initiative within Steam, don't bet on it. Valve managing director Gabe Newell is not a fan of the service, saying during his DICE 2013 keynote today that it is "more of a feature for demos and spectation. and not as a core architecture for delivering value to consumers."

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If you're holding out hope for a cloud gaming initiative within Steam, don't bet on it. Valve managing director Gabe Newell is not a fan of the service, saying during his DICE 2013 keynote today that it is "more of a feature for demos and spectation, and not as a core architecture for delivering value to consumers."

Newell said that cloud gaming is great for caching and saving on network resources, but ignores the fundamentals of IP costs. "There's always this 'let's ignore the fact that you have this network cost,'" he said. "Cloud gaming works until it becomes successful, at which point it falls over from its own success. As soon as everyone starts using a continuous network connection to get its applications, consumer IP pricing is going to go through the roof."

He also said that latency is a problem with the service in that it puts compensation for it at the center of the network instead of on the edge where he thinks it belongs. "We believe that latency sensitivity is going to increase in the future," Newell said. "The ability to do local high-speed processing will become more important than it is right now... We actually think there is going to be a bunch of hardware in the future where you have more sensitivity than a human does to latency and putting that functionality at the center of the network will actually be impossible."

In the end, Newell said he will continue to be skeptical of the whole process. "If you really just want to have a standard client out there that's not a full-blown game engine, there are much better approaches than sending video."

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 7, 2013 1:30 PM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Valve's Gabe Newell skeptical of cloud gaming potential.

    If anyone was holding out hope for a cloud gaming initiative within Steam, don't bet on it. Valve managing director Gabe Newell is not a fan of the service, saying during his DICE 2013 keynote today that it is "more of a feature for demos and spectation. and not as a core architecture for delivering value to consumers."

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      February 7, 2013 1:45 PM

      Man, this insight versus Phil Harrison's rabid "head-in-the-clouds" mentality... that's probably this year's meta-debate series.

      Harrison vs. Newell. PORTAL KOMBAT!

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        February 7, 2013 3:52 PM

        I think there's probably a disparity in how far ahead they're looking, and how fast they think we'll get there. Once the internet and cloud infrastructure improves by a factor then, sure, there's nothing standing in the way of streaming video-only games.

        Until then we are stuck with systems that utilize bigger processing power on the client end, and I think Mr. Newell recognizes that this is going to be the case for a good long while.

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          February 7, 2013 9:53 PM

          He's actually arguing that long term smart clients are a better solution than thin clients, that supposing you had a sufficiently strong infrastructure, being cloud-based puts all the burden on the network, whereas it is more cost-effective to offload work to the clients.

          Think about the issue of managing clusters of computer power and trying to optimize them for usage, while keeping pace with an upgrade cycle that will satisfy users and developers. How do you determine what fidelity of experience is best for each client? How do you deal with managing resources during peak hours against downtime? I'm not suggesting that these issues can't be readily solved, but in addressing them it illustrates how making the user pay for the client and pay directly for their own consumption may be a simpler and more direct way of managing resources.

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          February 8, 2013 5:25 AM

          Well, there is the speed of light. We can not get rid of latency as a whole, thank to our friends, the laws of physics. In input lag critical games they'd need data centers at just about every corner to not have a noticeable difference to playing locally.

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            February 8, 2013 7:20 AM

            Most people believe this is an aspect of technology that will be improved. Because most people are morons

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      February 7, 2013 3:29 PM

      Interesting talk from Gabe. It really seems like Valve is trying to be the best damn middleman ever so that they can get a slice of every revenue stream. I hope they don't turn into used car salesmen someday though.

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      February 7, 2013 4:41 PM

      Gabe is a god. Love his forward thinking.

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      February 7, 2013 4:49 PM

      Think of the Diablo 3 fiasco. Now think of it with every game you play.

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      February 7, 2013 5:13 PM

      I'm really hoping for over the local network game streaming in the Steam box. They do have a link to some devices on the market already that let you do video, but I'd like to see Valve support it more directly and show how a user could control his games from the TV or Computer without having them in the same space.

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      February 8, 2013 1:49 AM

      i agree with him.
      imho, streaming games is only good when you want to try a game before buying it, and don't want to wait for a huge demo to download.
      but still, most games would lag too much to be playable, at least in most countries with shitty connections like mine (italy)

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        February 8, 2013 1:59 AM

        OnLive was really responsive for me. I was able to play first-person shooters very surprisingly with almost imperceptible lag. I played ~60 miles from one of their data centers, though.

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          February 8, 2013 4:34 AM

          i can't even log into onlive here.
          not that i'd want to

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      February 8, 2013 2:03 AM

      Agree at the moment; I'm sure he'll reevaluate as the tech improves.

      I tried Onlive and I was very impressed that it worked as well as it did - if traveling or something it'd be a much better option than not being able to play at all, but if I'm at home I want my local game with all the responsiveness and graphic fidelity that entails.

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      February 8, 2013 4:36 AM

      He's right and for a long time. Processing power is evolving faster than gaming needs and it's the opposite for Internet infrastructures.

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        February 8, 2013 5:48 AM

        And I don't think it will ever be different - even when the Internet improves, gaming technology will just be much further along. It's like how flash/SSD drive capacities are never going to catch up with hard drive capacity.