Microsoft dismisses 'cloud gaming', analyst predicts Apple console
27th Oct 2009 | 21:51
LGC 09: Game downloads to overtake boxed discs in 2014
Microsoft dismisses 'cloud gaming'
As part of this year's annual London Games Festival, this week saw the games industry's inaugural London Games Conference, with the great and the good of the British industry gathering at BAFTA to discuss the future of gaming.
The overall theme of the conference was nothing less than the ol' chestnut of "Digital Distribution and the Future of the European Games Market" with many leading games developers, publishers, retailers, distributors and hardware manufacturers speaking about and debating the issue of DLC versus 'traditional' boxed games in high street retail stores.
Elsewhere at LGF 09, Microsoft dismissed the recent hype about 'cloud gaming' with Xbox Live EMEA boss Jerry Johnson telling the BAFTA audience that streaming machines will simply NOT be mass-market "for the foreseeable future."
Talking about streaming services such as OnLive and Dave Perry's Gaikai - that have received considerable PR coverage throughout the last year – the Microsoft man stressed his belief that "streaming technology is something that the industry is betting on longer term... right now I don't believe that technology can scale out against the experience we can offer on a local machine."
Johnson added that: "The technology will continue to improve. As an industry we'll have to accept that and move with it - but I don't think it's on an accelerated timeline for the foreseeable future."
The death of the disc
Next up, there was much discussion, debate and general chin-stroking around the overall theme at LGF '09, with many wanting the definitive answer on the thorny question of when digital download sales were finally going to overtake sales of 'traditional' boxed games on discs.
Renowned industry analyst Nick Parker claims that, according to his research, the tipping point ('the iTunes moment') will occur in 2014, when the games industry "might have some parity between digital distribution and retail."
In terms of predicting the 'next gen' of gaming hardware, Parker refused to be drawn on specifics, although he was keen to speculate that it would not be too surprising to see Apple launch a dedicated gaming console based around Intel's Larabee chip.
The suggestion was that a company such as Apple could well take the gaming industry by storm, with Parker expecting "one big new entrant to shake up the eco-system".
Tory MP slams Labour government's record on games
The Tories' Shadow Culture Minister Ed Vaizey was also on hand to pledge his party's support for the UK games industry, attacking Gordon Brown's government for what he sees as a clear lack of faith in the flourishing sector.
Vaizey stressed that he plans to promote a culture of 'investment and risk-taking' under a Conservative Government. He also wants to extend the remit of the UK's Film Council to cover games and give the industry the "national voice it deserves."
Labour not 'getting' games
The Tory MP also took the opportunity to criticise Labour, telling the BAFTA audience: "As in so many other areas, Labour ministers simply do not seem to care that we are falling behind our competitors in a critically important economic growth area."
"Gordon Brown's economic mis-management means the UK government simply has not had the fiscal headroom to offer the kind of support that has been available in some other countries. But just because they cannot offer tax breaks, does not excuse them actively doing down the industry," said the Shadow Culture Minister.
"NESTA's research suggests the UK videogames sector could shrink by 16.5 per cent over five years, resulting in the loss of more than GBP 180 million in external investment and nearly 1700 jobs," he added. "I would love nothing more than to work with you to facilitate the investment and risk-taking the industry needs... Britain is broke, but this creates an opportunity to shape policies that assist the high tech entrepreneurs that will drive our economy in the future. The video games sector must play a key part in this."
Tough words from the Tories. And with the general election looming at some point in 2010, the party could well have a lot of support from British games developers and publishing execs, unless Labour rapidly changes tack and realises the party political points to be gained in actively supporting one of Britain's fastest-moving industries.
For more on the London Games Festival 2009 programme head over to http://www.londongamesfestival.co.uk