So does the deal between Sony and Gaikai spell the end of disk gaming? Well the information that’s been coming out about the next generation of consoles in the last few weeks has been confirming some peoples worst fears, the days of the disc are coming to an end. The time of bulky boxes taking up space on a bookcase are disappearing and the time of proudly displaying your collection and showing off to your friends is soon to be gone.
“No” I hear you say, “There’s no way it will happen, people won’t let it. People are too proud of their collections to let you take it away”. And I say, “Are they the people who said the same thing about the IPod? And look how that one worked out…”
It’s true though, I was once the proud owner of dozens of CD’s – I would display them beside a big bulky CD player and friends would come along, see what music I was into and pick their favourites to listen to. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the first generation IPod’s and it changed the way I listened to music forever. Now I don’t even own a CD player, just a little IPod dock. The CD’s are in a plastic storage case in the spare room, and sure there are still collectors of the compact disc out there but you could say the same about record collectors. Times change and most people change with them.
The idea is quite hard to contemplate, I’m proud of the games I have; they sit there under my TV begging to be played. So I’d say I’m in the same camp as a lot of people when it comes to getting shot of their physical media.
One of my biggest problems comes in the form of connection to the internet – to use a cloud service like Gaikai one needs not only a connection but a damn good one. Gaikai take most of the power to stream the game to you but without the most basic of internet connections your barking up the wrong tree. There have been times in the past that my internet connection has went off for days because of problems with the outside line, the company or even when I changed from BT to Sky it took over a month before I was back online. That’s a long time for me to be without playing games, in fact that’s a long time for many people to go without playing games. Also what happens if internet providers decide to up their prices and you decide that you can’t afford it or to cut it back for a while, so you have to forfeit playing your favourite games too? That’s like cutting back on Sky but not being able to watch a DVD.
So what if you don’t have great internet, I’ve never been able to get fibre optic broadband in my area and I’m stuck with a pretty poor connection so what if I need a good one to play games does that exclude me? Does that exclude everyone in my area? And what about all those people out on the fringes of the suburbs? What about them?
Now onto the good stuff, the other day me and Lou (my beautiful wife) decided we wanted to play Grand Theft Auto IV, we didn’t own it because I must have traded it in when I was in need of money. We went looking for the ultimate edition that included Liberty City Stories too. We went to seven different shops before having to buy both of them separately. We wasted the best part of the day just looking for the game to end up buying two games and coming home. If streaming worked properly we could have been playing a few minutes after deciding we wanted to play, and we’d be playing the correct version too.
This brings me onto the fact that shops selling games have become quite sparse; the stock in Game has become quite weak since the administration debacle earlier this year. HMV haven’t done much better, their stock is pretty crap and their pricing is beyond crazy. You can look at preowned games and find a few all at different prices, then you can go looking elsewhere in the shop and find a brand new one for cheaper than the preowned.
These shops aren’t filling me with much confidence as rarely they have what I want and I go more and more to sites like Play.com and Amazon.co.uk to feed my need for games.
If game streaming were to work properly I could feed this need without having to wait for delivery which would be something I’d be very interested in – and anyone who needs to wait on a Royal Mail delivery on a bank holiday weekend will agree with me.
This will mean that these shops will no longer be able to flog you physical games meaning that administration would be the least of their worries, what’s the point of a game shop that doesn’t sell any games?
That I suppose brings me onto the idea of preowned games, I’ll admit quite a few of my games are preowned, what’s better than getting a game full price – getting it half price or ¾ the price or almost free? I do feel guilty as none of the money goes to developers and studios but sits in the fat greedy pockets of the million shops selling preowned games, but then again I’m saving crazy amounts of money that can be spent on takeaways and beer, so I can eat and drink my guilt away.
The general consensus is that the next gen consoles will not allow you to buy preowned games, if they didn’t have anywhere for you to put physical media then you couldn’t have preowned anyway. It’s just like the PC, if you buy a PC game it’s yours for life no matter if you want rid of it or not, it’s branded on you with a hot poker and the only way to get it gone is to throw it in the rubbish, so the idea is not beyond contemplation.
This means games will have to be a hell of a lot cheaper than they are, and that should ring true because companies don’t have the production costs they once did.
I really don’t know what to make of the next gen, I mean I love Netflix and to be honest it’s pretty much taken over how I watch TV, but I still buy DVDs and BLU-RAYs because I want that physical connection, I want something to look at that tells me where the hell all my money went. Will it be great to be able to have all my things in one big hub where I can have it straight away with no looking? Well yes it would, but what if the big hub blows up, what if the internet goes into meltdown, what if there’s an apocalypse?! How will I access my media then?
What do you think? Is this the future or as C3PO says are we “doomed”?