Future Imperfect: Valve Still Not Sold On Cloud Gaming

By Nathan Grayson on February 7th, 2013 at 11:35 pm.

One day, children will gaze up at the sky and fully believe its cottony bounties were named after hyper-sophisticated streaming data networks. I plan on being dead by then, so that’s good. But, at least in the short term, Gabe Newell’s not so sure. Yes, there are some fairly functional examples already up and running, but Newell believes they’re far from optimal. Here’s the real kicker, though: this, he claims, isn’t a shortcoming that a little time and elbow grease will fix right up. Actually, those things may well make it worse.

“Cloud gaming works until it starts to be successful – at which point, it falls over,” Newell explained during his DICE keynote in Las Vegas. “All the spreadsheets ignore the producing levels that consumer networks use. When everyone starts using a continuous network connection in order to get their applications, prices are going to go through the roof.”

“Let’s say our industry had never done consoles or consumer clients. Even if we just started out with cloud gaming, you’d actually go in the direction of pushing intelligence out to the edge of the network, simply because it’s a great way of caching and saving you on network resources.”

So basically, he thinks that cloud is, by nature, more of a hassle, more expensive, and less efficient on an individual basis. And the more widespread it becomes, the more those issues will rain on its parade. But it’s not just an issue of lost frames and heightened blood pressure. Valve’s infernal future labs have run the numbers, and they’ve found that hardware will eventually be even more dependent on a hiccup-free experience than we are.

“Another point is that cloud gaming puts latency compensation in the wrong place: in the center of the network rather than the edge,” Newell explained. “And one thing we believe is that latency sensitivity is actually going to increase in the future. The ability to do local high-speed processing will become more important than it is now. For now, people think of it as the customer experiencing lag during play, but in the future, there’ll be a bunch of hardware that has even more sensitivity than a human does. So putting functionality at the center of the network will actually be impossible.”

All that said, Valve isn’t writing off cloud gaming entirely. But it’s a sideshow. The main event, so far as Newell and co are concerned, will remain safely inside our machines. Not on some server in space or something.

“I think there’s a place for cloud gaming, but more as a feature or for things like demos and spectating. But not as core architecture.”

So then, probably don’t expect Steam to fully embrace the cloud any time soon.

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83 Comments »

  1. Kestrel says:

    I love the first two sentences of this article.

  2. appropriate touching says:

    For now, people think of it as the customer experiencing lag during play, but in the future, there’ll be a bunch of hardware that has even more sensitivity than a human does.

    The only way I can interpret this is that Valve intends to make videogames for robots.

    • noilly says:

      Perhaps he’s talking about the Oculus Rift (and other things Valve is cooking up in the lab) where local latency is already an issue.

    • Stochastic says:

      The statement makes me think it’s something other than VR. If it were VR he were talking about, he wouldn’t dismiss the lag customers experience as a lesser problem since this is the principal problem with VR. It’s got to be something that involves interacting back and forth with the user’s hardware. Maybe this is some kind of reference to biometrics? Or something else altogether?

      • baby snot says:

        Now that I think about it he did mention the fact that researchers out of Cornell University had essentially decoded the ‘messaging layer’ between the retina and brain and that bypassing the eye and communicating directly with the brain represented a more interesting engineering challenge then say, ray tracing. He also mentioned how the same had essentially been done for the nervous system as a whole (same research?) and it was essentially possible to drive a persons nervous system. Maybe that’s what he was getting at?

        Apologies for terrible paraphrasing.

      • 00000 says:

        I fairly sure he was referring to hardware such as VR. Gabe wasn’t downplaying the issue of lag, he made a very crucial point about the distribution of lag compensation. VR is a very localized experience which requires a very very very low delay for essentially a very local perspective.

        While it is acceptable for a central server to make a lot of decisions and have a delay on your interactions with the environment, the story is different when it comes to Virtual Reality hardware. You have to take in account that the current Oculus Rift already made a groundbreaking 4ms delay on head tracking, and there’s still a huge delay issue with rendering and transferring the display signal on time. Now imagine that head-tracking had extra delay because it needs to send that information to the server, and by the time it get’s there the frame still needs to be rendered and send back. Any latency sensitive hardware would be incompatible with cloud gaming unless perhaps(!) you were on gigabit LAN with the server, which is defeats the purpose of cloud gaming and you might as well go to a cybercafe.

        The reality is that future (and current) gaming hardware is ever more pushing the boundaries of latency between the human-machine interaction, which requires far lower responds times then what needs to be served between players in PvP (or PvE) interactions. This is why it is necessary, as Gabe points out, to lower latency on the edge of the network, where the gap between player and machine is the smallest.

        How else is my buddy’s mother-in-law going to make $85/hr on her laptop? The cumulative latency of working using applications on the cloud would have made it impossible for her last month’s pay check to be $17494 just working on the laptop for only a few hours.
        Read more on this web site… http://tinyurl.com/attrqwa

        • Illessa says:

          *applauds* Well played! I had to unshorten that url just to reassure myself that the spammers hadn’t achieved some kind of breakthrough in natural language processing to integrate so neatly into one of their C&Ps ;)

  3. TimMc says:

    I don’t see why anyone would want cloud computing, at least with the current state of technology. As a software developer, its difficult enough to get large scale data management software running smoothly to a customers standards – let alone something like hi-def gaming.

    • Ernesto says:

      I also agree with Mr Newell. Imagine what it does to your connection if more and more people try to stream video games in a 1080p resolution. Time-critical stuff belongs on a local machine or a local network.
      Also: I always wondered how it can be called a ‘cloud’ when it’s actually packed in few servers. I thought that’s what the network is for: to distribute, not bundle…

      • Martel says:

        Not sure if you really wanted an answer, but it’s called cloud because it was always represented as a cloud in diagrams for things outside your network, ie the internet.

      • spedcor666 says:

        Yeah, I was always under the impression that the cloud referred to a service being highly distributed over a large number of servers over the internet rather than just some server somewhere on the internet. But, as Martel says, it seems that isn’t the case so I’m not sure why I’ve always thought that now.

    • Kitsuninc says:

      Because in theory it means you can play games with a device that is capable of little more than streaming video. As a consumer, that means the cost of a powerful gaming rig could decrease enormously, while portability would go through the roof. You could have a portable system, so as long as you have internet access, you can play the most intensive games that exist without even needing to dish out the extra $200 a portable system usually costs.

      As a developer, I’m sure it’s a pain in the butt, but if internet architecture were better, it is an idea with potential, if nothing else.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        Thing is – you have to balance the cheaper device hardware increased network hardware costs and data usage. Especially as the device costs are (currently) a single up-front cost, whereas network/data costs are on going.

        Currently the increases in processing power and compactness are keeping devices ahead of the game – it’s possible networks will never catch up.

        • Kitsunin says:

          You’re right, that is entirely possible, but in theory, upgrading internet architecture could also be a much better deal. You say that networking costs are ongoing, but that is just because we treat them as services, not products. They still function through static systems, the only upkeep involved is that which keeps the system running, which is essentially the same as is necessary for any electronic product which has problems over time i.e. every electronic product. The question is, is internet wiring more expensive, or computer hardware?

          • Llewyn says:

            Network connectivity is a product to the people buying the physical equipment and a service to those paying to use it – that won’t change unless we all want to buy our own physical connections to everywhere. The ongoing cost to service providers is the finance used to purchase the equipment.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Completely true, but that doesn’t change the theoretical price behind it.

  4. Bhazor says:

    I am yet to see any evidence of how “The Cloud” is supposed to improve the end user experience. The only benefit I’ve seen is for the publishers. Because suddenly they get to bring back the gates. Want to be profitable? Better get on Gaikai. Want to get on Gaikai? Better sign up with us. Just as crowd sourcing, direct downloads and the growth of the bundle scene was starting to see ambitious indie projects emerge and independent developers form along comes the old guard trying to herd everyone back in and lock the pen.

    There might one day be a MMO that uses it. But then that’s an MMO and would doubtless find some other to way to be crap.

    • LintMan says:

      This. There’s a lot of reasons for big publshers to want this, and very few for consumers.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      “There might one day be a MMO that uses it. But then that’s an MMO and would doubtless find some other to way to be crap.”

      This made my day.

      In all seriousness, though, if friggin’ Valve can’t get behind cloud gaming, I don’t think it’s going to be too much of a concern, at least for several years.

      I’m kind of wondering why more people aren’t basically celebrating this. Cloud gaming and computing could kill all kinds of things gamers love, like modding. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np6vAuS0KNs

  5. AnotherGamingEnglishman says:

    One of my favourite paintings of all time up there! Good choice.

    I’m not really sold on cloud gaming simply because of what it may imply when it comes to possession and ownership of a product. Gaming is already taking a worrying turn towards to online service dependence. Although this is obviously par for the course for MMOs or competitive online games, I don’t particularly want to have my singleplayer, “offline” games dependent on some outside service.

    If I buy a game, it’s my possession, my property, I’d like to think that my ownership of said property gives me free reign to do with it what I will, and have access to it whenever and wherever I want. We’re already seeing too many cases of always-online services hindering access to our possessions. That, along with the introduction of micro-transactions within singleplayer games, can’t help but make me worry about what cloud gaming may entail in regards to what it means to ‘own’ a game.

    • soldant says:

      Do you use Steam? If so, your games aren’t your property according to their terms. You’re buying a subscription to use that game. Granted it’s practically an unlimited subscription in that it doesn’t expire, but it can be taken away from you at any time if Valve decide to do so.

      The questions around ownership of the copy of the game you buy started when Steam came out, not now that cloud gaming has turned up. It’s just a more restrictive form in that you’re relying on it being streamed. In terms of ownership, both things like Steam and cloud gaming aren’t in your favour.

      • El_Emmental says:

        Clarifications (several were already mentionned below):

        1) Using Steam or not using Steam doesn’t grant you the property of the software (here, a game). You always acquire a user licence, be it on a cassette tape, cartridge, floppy disk, , CD, DVD, BR or on a digital distribution platform.

        -

        2) When using Steam, you’re signing an agreement, a contract, for an unlimited subscription to the Steam services. It has no direct (by itselft) connection to any of your games: it is a Steam subscription. It is not a game EULA. Only the games’ EULAs (written by the publishers) make that connection with the Steam subscription, only them.

        -

        3) Then, the bundle of services provided by Steam *includes* a Digital Rights Management system (DRM)(often called “Steamworks”, which is actually a software suite/toolkit, containing the Steam DRM along with other tools), which is why it is affecting your games licenses.

        When you “buy a game” (= acquire an end-user license) on Steam, you acquire a specific version of that license: it is tied with the Steam services.

        Depending on the -> publisher <-of the game, you can:
        a) Launch it without being connected to Steam (some indie games let you start the .exe directly).
        b) Launch it by being connected to Steam only. The publisher's retail DRM is removed/deactivated.
        c) Launch it by being connected to Steam and to the publisher's DRM "solution" at the same time.

        The issue here is the DRM used by the publishers, Steam being one of the DRM on the market. It’s the publisher who decide how free (or not) you are to use the software.

        -

        3) Valve can not “take it away from you at any time if they decide to do so” like if they were 100% free of doing whatever they want.

        The EULA gives them a wide array of reasons, and as in all contracts, an “open” clause (the one that made you believe they could do whatever they want) is there to prevent unexpected exploits by some Steam subscribers (it happened a lot since Steam started being a store).

        If they were to prevent you from using your licenses (by terminating your subscription to Steam) without any valid motivation/reason, then you could bring that to a court and get compensations, because Valve would be abusing its power. Simply because it wouldn’t be violating the EULA doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have to pay: the EULA is an “agreement”, a base, a guide, but the law still come first.

        And to those worrying about the cost of a trial, as long as you’re in the right (and didn’t try to use Russian-market-only keys while not being a russian users, sell/lend your account or scam people):
        1- You could crowdfund it these days.
        2- Some countries provide free lawyer services (not always perfect, but still)
        3- NGOs like the Electronic Frontier Foundation would gladly help you (nb: they have/know really good lawyers specialized in that topic and have the fund to pay for them)
        4- It only needs 1 trial to make Steam fall
        5- It would completely destroy Steam’s reputation among gamers and start a massive online protest – and without its core, Steam won’t stay at its #1 position. And other digital distributors will step up and offer better and solid alternatives.

        The “one day Valve will come to take away your games” drama is the century-old trick “you’ll die if you don’t listen to us” to scare people off to get their attention and make them feel more secure (funny, isn’t it ?) by making them believe they’re now fully aware of the risks involved in the current situation.

        -

        4) The question around ownership of the copy of the game you buy started WAY before Steam became anything big: it started with DRM. Steam didn’t invented DRM. It is just *currently* the most visible and “popular” DRM.

        The DRMs in the gaming world who started these questions are SecuROM and StarForce, who drastically reduced the right of licensees (install limit + always-on) while compromising their computers’ security (ring 0) and their own privacy (install limit + always-on). The Sony rootkit was a similar scandal in the music world.

        -

        In terms of ownership, both things like DRM (and not just Steam) and cloud gaming aren’t in your favour.

        The only “true” free “ownership” you could have is a complete lack of any DRM, and that’s what gog.com, Humble Indie Bundles and a few indie devs provide (recent notable exception being the latest Rayman, DRM-less and from Ubisoft).

        You can dislike (slightly or strongly)(but don’t be a Khemm :P) Steam for being one of the DRM software on the market, or for being a specific type of DRM (account-based), but you can’t just imply that Steam is responsible for the more-stricly-enforced-EULAs-by-DRM decision of AAA publishers.

        If you hate DRMs, tell that to the publishers, they’re the ones making that decision.

        • F3ck says:

          Ah, Steam…making discussions about games as enjoyable as a law dissertation since 2002.

    • CaspianRoach says:

      It’s not your property, it never is. Even if you buy a disc you only legally buy a license to use the product. From a legal standpoint it doesn’t matter whether you have a disc or a steam account entry.

      • Cooper says:

        Not true.

        DVDs come with EULAs which publishers would like to think meant that you don’t own the software on the DVD.

        But court settlements in Europe have proved that that EULA is worth nothing. You own what is on your physical media, no matter how companies try to spin it…

        • SominiTheCommenter says:

          But Steam’s enforcement also comes in EULA form. So it doesn’t matter, right? Or the law just concerns physical EULA?

          • jrodman says:

            Suffice to say the case law for digital downloads with self-destruct DRM is less clear at this time.

        • MrLebanon says:

          very true Cooper. Many people fail to realize that EULA/Terms of Service/Company Policy or WHATEVER they choose to call it, does not override law, and does not mean ANYTHING until it’s tested in court.

          As far as I know, steams EULA has yet to be tested in court. But you can bet your buttered balls that if they ever act on the EULA terms (e.g. and remove some users access to his/her games) we are going to see that baby go to court and it will be up to the judge to set a precedent.

          And even then, that precedent would only hold true in that legal jurisdiction.

          Law isn’t a “this works this way” kind of deal.. the answer regarding most legal issues is “it depends”

        • sd4f says:

          I think the problem is Shrinkwrap contract, that make the EULA non-binding. Steam digital purchases are different because you accept the steam subscriber agreement at the time of the exchange, therefore you have a legitimate contract/agreement there.

          Also if the EULA doesn’t apply, you still don’t own the software, because normal copyright laws apply. In the past, copyright purely meant that the owner of the copyright, had a right to exclusively make copies. Applying this to software has been problematic, because virtual copies of the software are made under normal use of the software, but when copyright law was established, it only had to protect literature, and it made it simple, you bought a published book, you could do whatever you wished with the book, except make copies of it or parts of it.

          Now because yanks want to protect their “culture” industry, they’ve foisted their copyright laws into many other jurisdictions, and turned what was a civil matter, into a criminal one, and made circumventing DRM a crime and granted statutory damages.

        • El_Emmental says:

          “But court settlements in Europe have proved that that EULA is worth nothing. You own what is on your physical media, no matter how companies try to spin it…”

          Wrong – the unique court case which might bring a massive change to software licenses didn’t “proved” anything, it said that the act of selling a physical good is exactly like the act of selling a non-physical good such as a license, regarding the right to resell for the initial buyer.

          It is complete bollocks in terms of business law and that’s why there hasn’t been thousands of new cases in the European Court of Justice for that (despite the potential multi-millions euros at stake): not a single company want to take the risk in that domain, the latest decision is very uncertain and is not likely to stay that way.

          It was made by people not fully aware of all the technical and business constraints and models in IT, trying to help out a small european company (specialized in reselling “used” licences from various sources…) facing a giant US company (Oracle) (and we all know “Justice” heavily depends on where you’re from: see the Samsung vs Apple case).

          They used very unstable and loosely analogy to base their decision – I’m really surprised they did that, a shamefur dispray that’s likely to do more harm than good to consumers’ rights.

          • Malibu Stacey says:

            You talk too much sense on this topic for this site. It’s all about the knee jerk response round these parts don’t you know?

            Also you double posted this reply.

        • El_Emmental says:

          “DVDs come with EULAs which publishers would like to think meant that you don’t own the software on the DVD.

          But court settlements in Europe have proved that that EULA is worth nothing.”

          Wrong – it is illegal to use a software without an appropriate license. Without an agreement, you can’t just launch any software you want – that’s piracy.

          A clause might be ruled as “abusive” and be declared “null and void”, resulting in a) the whole contract is declared null and void b) the contract is still valid, only the abuse clause(s) is/are removed, but in both cases the EULA is worth something.

          Only in rare cases (minor clauses) the court will force the other party to not cease the contract if it believes it’s no longer an agreement nor possible possible to make business with the other party.

          You can’t (most of the time) and it is strongly not recommended to force (through suing) companies/people to work for other companies/people, business is based on mutual trust and a court order is the opposite of trust (= letting a court decides the outcome, rather than negociating with the other party).

          Regarding not longer being able to use the licenses, the user is likely to be given compensations (money), and that’s it.

          EULAs are contracts, like it or not, believe it or not. They can’t force you to give up on your rights provided by law, but they can’t force them to give up on their rights provided by law (like the right of not doing business with you – which has its own limits of course).

          • Consumatopia says:

            You can’t (most of the time) and it is strongly not recommended to force (through suing) companies/people to work for other companies/people, business is based on mutual trust and a court order is the opposite of trust (= letting a court decides the outcome, rather than negociating with the other party).

            The global economy would be much slower if people only did business with those they personally considered trustworthy. The threat of lawsuits against companies abusing trust in one way or another allows us to trade more freely. You’ll find in systems where the rule of law has broken down or become corrupt that people start preferring to trade only with people they have established personal relationships.

          • Brun says:

            ^^ This. People are more willing to extend business trust if there will be legal ramifications if the other party breaches that trust. In this manner the legal system provides a primitive form of insurance on business deals.

        • Malibu Stacey says:

          But court settlements in Europe have proved that that EULA is worth nothing. You own what is on your physical media, no matter how companies try to spin it…

          Care to cite your references?

          Thought not.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            No, there have been actual cases, which I can’t think of off the top of my head unfortunately – but the European courts have ruled certain EULA’s non-binding (mostly as they relate to signing away power of litigation IIRC)

      • GiantPotato says:

        From a legal standpoint that’s true, but publishers haven’t made any secret of their desire to turn towards subscription-based models, and cloud gaming would make that transition a very natural one. So not owning software on a physical disc and not owning it on a remote server are still very different concepts, for now.

  6. Juan Carlo says:

    This is awesome. I always thought that if cloud takes over it’d be worse than SOPA would have been.

  7. Radiant says:

    People need to look at eve online to see what server load and lag looks like with just 100,000 players.

    • El_Emmental says:

      TiDi: It’s not lag, it’s a feature !

      Nah really, even at 10% the game is crawling in the mud, especially if it hasn’t switched to their “super-node” server for the occasion.

  8. PopeRatzo says:

    Time for Gabe Newell to step away from the cameras and get to work on Half-Life 3.

    I’m tiring of his daily pronouncements. Less talk, more good games, please.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Does he even make games anymore? I mean, I’m sure he has high level input, but I somehow doubt that he was in his office at Valve writing the code for “Portal 2.”

    • Devilturnip says:

      It’s actually time for Gabe to do whatever he wants. He doesn’t work for you.

    • Stochastic says:

      It’s actually amazing how much he’s been cropping up in the news lately. I’m starting to think he’s embracing a role as a Jobs-esque visonary type. Like a lot of the big tech companies, Valve has a certain mystique that fuels public interest, and Newell is taking advantage of the fact that he’s become its public face. Fortunately, he almost always manages to say something interesting.

      Then again, it could just be a case of the “Apple effect,” where a company becomes so successful and influential within the domain of its own industry that the media would be negligent not to report on anything that company does.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      He seems unfortunately a whole lot more interested in Steam than he is in Valve. All his talks have been in that direction. His recent talk at a Texan(?) university where he speaks of separating Valve from Steam lasts for one hour and all he talks about is business models directly tied to the Steam platform.

      The one time where he speaks about games proper, it is about in-game markets being served by the Steam platform and that would allow gamers to sell or trade in-game objects. A reality already as we know, but that he believes can be better explored by the company.

      I’m not sure what to make of all this yet. But I suspect that even if Valve were to become a more prolific development studio and games publisher, I don’t think I would like their games anymore.

      • El_Emmental says:

        Well, you can’t the blame the man for giving more attention to the gigantic Steam, rather than the quiet, slow-development cycles, Valve studio.

        And if I recall correctly he’s still involved in development: he’s no stranger to Dota 2 and have been working on the new biometrics controllers.

  9. DK says:

    Thank god atleast one developer is smart enough to realize cloud gaming is a scam. And a dangerous scam at that. Consumers would suffer tremendously if it ever became mainstream – something not helped by the games media unquestioningly repeating Cloud Gaming Investor PR.

    • Bhazor says:

      If it becomes mainstream?

      The biggest PC exclusive last year, D3, was cloud based

      • DK says:

        No it wasn’t. The game still ran on your hardware, for the most part. It was absurd and another black mark on the games medias history of blindly believing publisher PR and kissing Blizzard ass, but it was not a cloud game. Yet.

        • GiantPotato says:

          D3 renders on your hardware but game logic executes on a remote server, just like any multiplayer game that you are not hosting. Actually I’m not sure whether there’s a clear distinction between a multiplayer server and a cloud, or if it’s just a question of scale.

          What I DO know is that executing game logic on battle.net servers and streaming it to the game client leads to a phenomenon in D3 called “rubber-banding” when latency goes up, which I found VERY unpleasant while playing.

          • Brun says:

            D3′s architecture most closely resembles that of an MMO, where rendering and storage are handled on your client but gameplay is calculated on the server.

            I consider that to be distinct from a “cloud game” in which *everything* happens on the server, including rendering, and the picture is streamed to a dumb terminal client.

  10. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I don’t see a push to cloud gaming taking place fortunately. I do see a push to take control of binary code in the gaming industry. It would be the utimate DRM. But then, if games were in the cloud we couldn’t really talk about DRM anymore. It would cease to exist. That would probably be a good thing for both customers and the industry; the end of hostilities and perpetual peace.

    The Cloud, to become a reality, needs also to change its current economic model dramatically. Sometime in the future we will be able to ensure optimal service. 100% uptime, large amounts of bandwidth and latency-free global networks… The Cloud will then be seen as a real benefit, particularly on the consumer side. But without proper legal tools, it won’t work. In a world of Cloud-based computing (not just games, but also applications, even operating systems) no one should submit to a privately designed TOS. The Cloud, while privately operated could not be privately owned or we would risk internet corporativism at a scale never seen before.

    Because it’s been mostly the private sector that has been advancing the internet infrastructure, it will be impossible for a government to take hold of it. So some sort of new model would need to be devised. It’s just not acceptable a world where all computing tasks are controlled by the private sector. The Cloud, to become a reality adopted by the masses, needs also to overcome this obstacle.

    So in all honesty, not even in a foreseeable future I see the Cloud becoming a reality. In 100 or 200 years time consumers and businesses will almost certainly still be in direct control of their data.

    • MacTheGeek says:

      And yet the US Government is one of the primary motivators to keep critical data OUT of the cloud. In attempting to keep former MU users from retrieving their data, the Department of Justice has argued that data stored on cloud services is not protected by property laws, and is not subject to the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

      • frightlever says:

        Furthermore certain corporate governance (a case by case thing, but such is private enterprise) prohibits company and client information from being stored across state or national borders which effectively pre-cludes cloud storage.

        “The Cloud” is a meaningless catch-all phrase. What Valve talks about when they mention the cloud is different to what Google’s vision portrays. Where data is concerned the cloud seems like a perfectly reasonable BACK-UP plan, but not a substitute to being able to hold a shiny little box in your own hand when necessary.

        A future OS (the idea of sitting down to a Windows desktop in the future is hopelessly outdated even now – what we can see as an OS now will just be an experience following us from device to device in the future) might reserve a portion of your storage for “the cloud”, I’d guestimate it could need a quarter or maybe less reserved for holding other people’s data (there’d be a lot of redundancy). In exchange for giving up some space on your storage media your own data is backed up not to any one corporate or government locker but to everyone else (or a sufficient number to provide multople fail-over) in your shared cloud. Simple as ticking a box, you give up something to get something. You wake up to a massive storage drive failure one morning? Just pop in a new holo-crystal and it’ll start streaming back good as new.

        Also, we will have monkey butlers and flying cars but only the monkey butlers will be trusted to fly the cars.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Would I be able to disguise as a monkey bulter to drive the flying car ? I wanna ! I wanna !

          You really nailed it, the “Cloud” (let’s call it off-site data storing/streaming/computing) is only viable for datas (with the current limitations), streaming content is already putting the network infrastructure at their maximum (that’s why they’re laying down private optical fiber and private localized hive server-farms), going as far as leaving the computing/processing off-site is not possible in the near future.

          They haven’t included high-bandwidth consumption in the non-western world (China, India, Africa, are very rapidly joining the hi-speed Internet) yet and we’re already having legislators accepting to kill the net neutrality in favor of tier-based offers and private optical fiber because the infrastructure is progressively being saturated.

          No place for a “full cloud” there.

    • El_Emmental says:

      “Because it’s been mostly the private sector that has been advancing the internet infrastructure, it will be impossible for a government to take hold of it.”

      Not entirely true, while the private sector is the most visible, research is mostly done through state-funded labs and thanks to research-tax-breaks, while the infrastructure is, (for the DSL) based on the telephone network and on the cable network (for the cable, obviously), who were both either directly build by the state or highly-funded through heavy tax-breaks.

      That’s also where the private sector almost never respected the contracts by taking the tax-break money and not building the required infrastructure, especially in low-density or rural areas, forcing the state to do that by itself.

      Governments rarely took hold of it, but states (the thing that stays after the government changes) did.

  11. Gap Gen says:

    Putting the kettle on and swirling your hand through the vapour may seem both dangerous and meritless, but one should really try something before one knocks it.

  12. JasmineGibbs22 says:

    If you think Kathleen`s story is flabbergasting…, 1 weak-ago my uncles best friend actually earned $8779 workin seventeen hours a week from there house and there best friend’s step-sister`s neighbour done this for eight months and earned over $8779 part time on their mac. apply the steps at this address… Fox76.com

  13. greenbananas says:

    Hence no Half-Life 3 in the foreseeable future.

  14. frightlever says:

    ” I plan on being dead by then, so that’s good.”

    Be kinda ironic if you get beaten to death by someone who mistook you for a mugger.

  15. SuicideKing says:

    Happy he’s said that, i’d rather own my games than rent them.

    • El_Emmental says:

      “own” hu hu

      You never owned a game, you always owned licenses. The only thing that changed is how the publisher enforces the EULA: with modern DRMs based on an Internet connection, they can control what you’re doing to prevent you from violating the agreement.

      If you were renting “your” games (beside the lack of time limitation), you would be able to bring it back to Steam (not possible, they can only disable or terminate your Steam EULA, they can’t modify a publisher’s EULA), you wouldn’t have to agree to the publishers’ EULAs (Steam would), Steam would be able to sell the “game” (= license) to someone else (as long as they don’t prevent you from renting it), etc.

      • Lone Gunman says:

        Yes technically you are correct. But the fact is that if the game is not tied to some form of Draconian DRM there is sod all that they can do about it so I can treat the copy of the game as if I own it.

        • Strangerator says:

          Remember when you could “borrow” games from other people who had bought them first? That was neat, and also not illegal.

          I guess borrowing got too efficient. Steam et al could really gain some public support if they had a mechanic in place where you could borrow and trade game licenses, enabling you to basically sell your “used copy” of the game. Put a negligible fee on it, maybe 5% transaction fee or something.

          Results:
          1) Public goodwill. People who hate the idea of not having a physical copy that can be resold, borrowed, or otherwise privately transferred might actually give your gaming service a try. You will be the hero of gamers everywhere, a champion for consumers, etc. All other game services will scurry to copy you. But you will be “the winner” if you do it first.

          2) You get all of the consumers. All of them. There are benefits, most of which involve laziness, to currently purchase games online only. But once you add this benefit, people will be able to conveniently resell their games to other players looking to play the same game for less than market price. You can call it SteamBay. The necessary evil of Steam “checking in” to make sure your license is valid before you begin the game will remain, and will deter some people, but many more will flock to the coolness of reselling games.

          3) Competition destruction. The niche filled by physical game stores gets smaller. Maybe it doesn’t disappear altogether, but really the main function of many of these stores is to sell your old games, or buy used. Greater percentage of the market moves to downloading their games, as a major disadvantage is cancelled out. You will also likely cut into “big box” stores too. As number of physical resale stores diminishes, so too will possible locations to resell games, driving even more people to your service.

          4) 5% of a used sale is better than 0% of 0 dollars. Some people just have a problem with paying 60 dollars for a game. They simply will not do it. This gives them their mental justification for borrowing the game from someone they have never met. Now imagine this. Temporary licenses lasting a few days to a week, called rentals (imagine!), and you charge 5-10 dollars for them. Maybe users can lend or swap games at a fee of 1 dollar per transaction? Ebay style auctioning of used games, where you always get a 5% cut? And since each license is associated with a particular game, it will be easy to figure out which games are bringing in how much and thus you and the publisher can divy up the spoils.

          5) BUT BUT BUT NOBODY WILL BUY NEW GAMES THEN?!?!?
          Not so, as you are still in control of the service and which licenses can be bought, sold, traded, and when. Maybe in the first couple months, you lock down anything except “new” versions of the game. The people that always buy new games will still buy new. A few more people will buy new with the idea in their head of playing the game to its fullest for two months and then selling their copy while it is still relatively new. A similar number of people will wait the couple months in order to buy used. The difference here is the 5% cut of the used sale. Now on the day the 2 month window of “new only” closes, there will be a gold-rush of people looking for discounted copies of the game. If there are not enough copies to go around, people who are still really interested will just buy a new copy anyway.

          6) Years later
          A game has gotten pretty old. Someone posts their used copy for 5 dollars. Someone else immediately buys it. You just made 50 cents, big whoop right? Except User A tweets “Gotta love Steam, just made 4.50 on game XYZ all these years later.” User B is excited to get to play a game so cheaply, and possibly shares his excitement with the villagers.

          I’m telling you, this would work. Of course people would still be able to pirate, but not as many would with such a convenient system that actually respects and caters to its users. Get someone with actual business knowledge to work on this (I have not) and you’ll make a mint.

          • Brun says:

            The publishers would never allow this despite your arguments. They’d cut Valve off before they let it happen. They’re already trying to stamp out used game sales on the console side, there’s no way they’d allow it on PC.

  16. strangeloup says:

    I feel like an uncultured heathen in that not only did I not recognise the painting shown on this post, but also that I thought, for some bizarre reason, that it was a picture of John Lydon for several minutes.

    I think I need more sleep.

  17. GiantPotato says:

    What I didn’t hear from Valve is that while they might not be sold on cloud gaming, they’re also not in a position to take advantage of it. Publishers generally don’t like Steam, so they’ve been gobbling up streaming technology for themselves for a while now in an attempt to build the next thing; I have no doubt that Origin, uPlay, and battle.net all have some version of cloud gaming planned, assuming that cloud integration wasn’t the reason for building out these services in the first place. Unfortunately for them, the capabilities of this technology have been rather severely over-estimated, so for now we consumers are stuck with our antiquated models of paying for games and then getting them.

    > “The ability to do local high-speed processing will become more important than it is now.”

    Unfortunately, I think that Valve is over-estimating the sophistication of the larger games market here. It is true is that the types of CPU-intensive games that make up the core PC market could become impossible to host in the cloud. But this doesn’t mean the cloud will go away, it means that games will adjust to compensate for the need to host them remotely. I don’t know if this will work, it increasingly seems like cloud gaming is an attempt to capture a market that tablet gaming already has locked up. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see more hybrid “Angry Birds of Duty”-type games from major publishers. Also, they’re cheaper to make.

  18. Dwayne Thomas says:

    I think that for cloud gaming to take off, all it will take is a major company or industry to fully back it. For example, it looks like the cable TV industry will provide cloud gaming through cable boxes. If Comcast, Time Warner, etc. provide this, then you could see cloud gaming explode.