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October 19, 2018 6:18 AM   Subscribe

The next generation of streaming video games is on its way [Engadget] “There's a specific kind of frustration associated with crappy game-streaming services. It's all about the buildup: You find a game, whether it's something brand new or a long-lost childhood favorite, and boot it up. It takes forever to load. The title screen stutters and your heart drops, but it's easy to convince yourself it was just a bout of preliminary jitters. And then the game begins. And stops. And starts up again. And stops. [...] That's been the story with so many streaming services over the years, from OnLive to GeForce Now. However, this entire ecosystem is poised to change. After years of impossible promises and half-baked public trials in an incomplete online ecosystem, streaming services are finally viable, and major companies like Google and Microsoft are teasing the future of the industry.”

• Google's 'Project Stream' game-streaming service debuts with Assassin's Creed Odyssey [Rock Paper Shotgun]
“Officially announced on the Google blog here, the unimaginatively named Project Stream claims it can push high-end games from Google’s servers directly onto your browser screen with minimal lag. I’m interested to see if they can pull it off. While sadly limited to American sign-ups only and requiring a 25 megabit connection at minimum, Google are taking sign-ups for Project Stream now, and plan to begin limited testing on October 5th. Streaming direct and interactive via Chrome, they’ll be showcasing their tech with the ever-photogenic Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. [...] Sadly, the Project Stream test-run is limited to America only. I’m hoping they’ll be testing it in other regions soon. Latency and connection stability is hugely important when streaming like this, and until they recently rolled out fiber-optic on my street, the best money could buy here was a 20 megabit connection below even the basic testing requirements. There’s every chance that Google will skip on some countries if they do end up committing to Project Stream.”
• Google's Video Game Streaming Service Passes the Starbucks Test [Motherboard]
“I figured if a three year old Chromebook could run Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey over Starbucks Wi-Fi in semi-rural South Carolina, Google may have something special here. It ran shockingly well. I wasn't comparing the streaming version to the desktop version side-by-side, but I didn't notice a drop in the quality of the graphics or frames per second. I did have some issues though—twice during my time playing the game the graphical fidelity tanked and everything looked like a YouTube video where the buffering hasn’t quite caught up and everything becomes pixelated. The game stalled in these moments too, and I couldn’t move or do anything. Each incident lasted a few seconds before the game clicked back into smooth focus. This wouldn’t be my preferred way to play Assassin’s Creed, but it is a good test case for the technology.”
• If Streaming Is the Future of Console Gaming, It Might Be Screwed [Gizmodo]
“And here’s where we get to the big problem. If streaming is a big part of the next generation of consoles then a whole lot of gamers are going to be pissed. Nvidia is already streaming resource-intensive games to its Shield console now, but the experience is... just adequate. That’s because streaming a game—especially one with 4K resolution, or HDR, or at 60 frames per second or higher—requires a lot of bandwidth, and many American gamers simply don’t have access to internet service that can handle it. Nvidia’s service requires requires at least 15 Mbps for 720p at 60fps and 25 Mbps for 1080p at 60fps. If it could handle higher resolutions, the bandwidth requirement would increase accordingly. Which means getting a game to look as sharp as it does on your PS4 Pro or Xbox One X could easily mean needing 30 to 40Mbps.”
• The Rise of Streamed Gaming Is 2018's Scariest New Trend [IGN]
“But more than that, I’m scared about the future after this future. As someone who still goes back to play my SNES (and who deeply regrets selling his N64 as a naive child), the idea of my library of games being at risk of disappearing with the flick of a switch makes me extremely uncomfortable. Game preservation is already a massive issue, and this will just make that problem worse. What happens when you cancel your subscription? Or when that subscription service shuts down its servers in two decades? Or a licensing agreement expires, which happens more than you think, and your favorite game isn’t allowed to be played anymore? Plenty of incredibly popular online-only games have already been shutdown in the past through no fault of their own, and if streamed gaming becomes the norm then I guarantee we’ll start seeing the same fate for single-player games as well. Imagine if ten years from now your copy of God of War or Breath of the Wild just didn’t work anymore.”
• Our Uncertain Streaming Future [Games Industry]
“Games are a radically different proposition from a network perspective. Never mind the question of latency - let's assume that's solved in ten years' time. However, by the nature of how games work, a game you play for 20, 50 or even 100 hours would chew through vastly more bandwidth than just downloading the game to play locally would require. Sure, you can play it on a device that's low powered because all it needs to do is display the stream; but here again the question is, why? Processing power is cheap, not just in the cloud but for consumers too; the same goes for storage. Both processing and storage continue to pack more power into smaller devices at a pace of progress that far outstrips the build-out of network infrastructure. Streaming seeks to turn the weakest link in the tech chain, the network, into the lynchpin of the whole experience; it puts the industry and its consumers at the mercy of broadband infrastructure companies, betting the future on the fervent hope that their costs will fall and performance rise at a dramatically greater rate than has been the case in previous decades.”
posted by Fizz (34 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
The fundamental problem with streaming gaming services is that what they claim they're for is really just a trojan horse to get to what they really are for.

Ostensibly they're so you can play games without taking part in the neverending hardware upgrade treadmill.

In reality they're so games can be shifted 100% to be a rentable commodity.

If the push was to allow you to load your own games onto cloud-based hardware, I'd have very different feelings about it. As it is, though, this is going to end up being a push to ensure that no game, no matter how old, doesn't have a price tag on continued use, and no game, no matter what you paid for it, will be available forever.
posted by tocts at 6:32 AM on October 19, 2018 [33 favorites]


Streaming and subscription services are going to have a massive impact on the games industry. I don't have an Xbox but I was amazed to see the Xbox Game Pass includes Forza Horizon 4 (the only reason I want to get an Xbox right now) along with other interesting stuff like Sea of Thieves and Rocket League. Forza costs £40 in the UK, the Game Pass is £8/month. Putting aside reselling games, which I realise some people do, that seems like a pretty good deal.

Anyway, when you consider the attach rate for consoles is ~7 games, that means the average console owner is spending ~£300 overall. If you made the Game Pass more attractive by adding a ton more games and exclusives, you could charge £10/month, which means that if you got a console owner to subscribe for more than 30 months (2.5 years), then you're doing fine. Better than fine, in fact, because there are lower transaction costs and fewer middle-men.

This is not me saying that it's going to be amazing and we should all welcome this - it's more that I think the consumer proposition is pretty strong on the face of it, and streaming will be a part of this because it lowers the barriers to entry even further.
posted by adrianhon at 6:33 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I got into the Project Stream beta test. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good. Compression artifacts can make things look really muddy when you're running fast enough, but other than that the game looks gorgeous and I don't have to own the hardware or juggle installation files and updates.

I don't know if this is the future of games we want, but it might be the one we get.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:35 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm really looking forward to this type of game service launching since we were able to keep net neutrality in the USA, and latency won't be an issue since Google Fiber is now in 98% of the hom... huh? Come again?
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:50 AM on October 19, 2018 [13 favorites]


Ugh, we finally have some great looking consoles are people are looking to dump them for artifacts and lag. There's so many things are great about our current "living in the future" but there's a horrible contrast of simple things that just don't work, or are stupid.

Example of the future: PSVR (well, VR in general, but this is the system I've got). I put on the headset, stap on my home-made belt to hold the cables, and everywhere I look is game. After nearly a year, it's still near unbelievable that I've got commodity hardware running this, and how great it is compared to the Pterodactyl Horror that I needed to pay some $20 for 5 minutes for when I was a kid and could occaisionally get down to Chicago. The lag was horrible, the resolution reidiculous, and the helmet so bulky one could never forget one was wearing it. And now, I own something that constantly blows me away despite many shortcomings (~1 meter of area I can move around in; occaisional controller/headset drift; initial play area setup; needing to "get over" my annoyance of digital downloads that will eventually stop working when Sony retires it's licensing server for that platform, resolution/graphics more reminiscent of PS3 and than PS4 pro I upgraded to for the extra processing power).

Example of shit: Chromecast. Chromecast video *still* can't remember where the volume level was between restarts. Chromecast audio handles this fine. So one needs to set the tv/audio at whatever the highest level that you'll have (netflex tends to play more quietly than plex), and then turn down the volume after the initial "Holy fuck that's loud, I forgot to pre-adjust the volume!" blare. Or one has to keep a mostly superfluous remote conviently located simply to adjust the fscking volume. About 1 in 10 times that it turns on, it doesn't quite find the network/becomes discoverable. The only fix is to reboot the wifi AP that it connects to (tried with two different AP from different manufacturers). And sometimes it will actually be an adroid issue, so I'll reboot the AP, only to see that things still aren't connecting with my phone, but hey my tablet does. So the phone needs a reboot and then it works. Hey, maybe I can just reboot everything in the house a few minutes before I might want to watch some content on a big screen with my wife to ensure things will actually work... most likely.

The fact that it's useless for local streaming if the network is down. Granted, there's an internet blip only once every few months, but I can't stream media from my local plex server (that I've configured to allow local hosts unauthenticated) if it can't start the plex app, which it downloads fresh every MF time. And that it will only grab from Google's servers; as opposed to maybe from the Android phone that's starting the cast connection. So there's been a few times, where my wife and I have watched local content on a shared 7 inch tablet screen because chromecast was stupid. This is something that's so relatively simple that it should virtually never not work, and yet several times per month my dinner is getting cold while I'm going into the crawl space in the basement to restart the router or trying a bunch of devices to see if any will see the right chromecast.

The only streaming I think currently would be reasonable to me, would be streaming from a local console to a different local device. That's still going to have occasional dropped frames due to wifi being crap in the house, but at least it eliminates that outside connection being an issue. And yes, I say that I'm not looking forward to moving to a rental economy, but already I'm pretty much forced into keeping up the psn+ account on the family machine to share paid for digital games, online play, and the free games only available with a current subscription... So I'm already a renter, just not at the the extra $20/month level that PSN wants for it's game "streaming" (which yes, is not the streaming talking about in the post).
posted by nobeagle at 7:19 AM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


I've fired up Project Stream briefly on a fairly old laptop, seemed quite functional, but I'm not much of a gamer so, well it seemed chaotically stabby in a silly way, but that's me editorializing about the content. As a non-gamer it would be interesting occasionally to try an intense high-fidelity contemporary game without an expensive rig.

Business strategy-wise tocts certainly makes a good point but it also may be slightly less machiavellian in that Google and the other cloud monsters have insanely huge capacity that is growing exponentially but with variable demand. AI/ML use huge resources but there will be gaps of low usage and running a game for an hour (times many) could balance their balance sheets.

A glance at AWS shows a GPU system with 30GB ram can go for 30 cents an hour, goggle can probably beat that with TPUs and make a nice profit. That's heavy metal to invest in unless one has a multi-hour per day habit.

I've seen gammers comment here and elsewhere that they've played some games for just a few hours each. Seems like there's a very reasonable (big) niche between serious and occasional gamers.
posted by sammyo at 7:21 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm about half and half on my Switch with physical cartridges because some of the bigger games make it that much easier to just swap a cartridge in and be on my way. But then there are a shit ton of indie games that are only available for download and I like the portability of having so many games all at once in one place.

But I'm not under any kind of impression that I own these games b/c I know how services/gaming contracts are and things can just disappear, entire games and marketplaces.
posted by Fizz at 7:36 AM on October 19, 2018


In reality they're so games can be shifted 100% to be a rentable commodity.

On one hand, we paid for our Switch and at least three games for it with trade-ins at our local games shop. We realized that the PS2 and Gamecube were not being touched. It was nice to be able to re-sell a product which we had purchased.

On that other hand, that was at our local indie game shop. And that means not at the vile pawn shop that is Game Stop/EB Games.

Somebody is going to get my money in this transaction. I'd rather it be the developer and publisher than a company that pays pennies on the dollar for used games, only to put them back on the shelf for $5-$10 less than their new counterparts.

I tried to sign up for Project Stream - we just went from a 25 mbps household to 500 mbps and Odyssey is one of those games I want to play but not at full retail price, but it is Not Available in Canada TM
posted by thecjm at 7:46 AM on October 19, 2018


"streaming services are finally viable"

How are they any more viable than they were a few years ago? Swathes of even first-world industrial countries still have shitty, capped broadband.

They're trying to shunt us into a rental model. I'm not seeing the value proposition here for the vast majority of non-casual gamers. Getting away from the console upgrade cycle? Really? A few hundred outlay once every 10 years?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 8:05 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I remember reading about onlive here a decade ago and being completely unconvinced. Still am and the same with VR.
posted by aerotive at 8:26 AM on October 19, 2018


What tocts said.

The only "streaming" that isn't just a backdoor way to kill off the whole idea of owning games is Steam Link, but that only works within a local network. If someone wanted to do "Steam Link but you can rent a host machine in our cloud", that'd be pretty cool. But that's not the direction this tech is heading at all.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:34 AM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


To be 100% clear, my concern with rental-vs-owning is not resale. I have literal shelves of games and have never felt the need to resell. It's not really a factor in how I view games.

The concern is that once it's rental, I may not be able to put a game aside for 2 or 3 years and then pick it back up and re-enjoy it without renting it again. Worse, it may not even be possible to do it at all, because the cloud provider decided to only license the game for 18 months and when usage dwindled they decided not to renew the license.

They want us to believe we're going to be getting a great deal by paying them a small fraction of the price of a new game and still get to play it, but in reality we're paying a small fraction of the price because we're only getting a small fraction of the real utility out of it compared to traditional game sales. Of course, they aren't going to want those fractions to match up -- they'll happily charge you 1/10th the price while delivering 1/100th the value.
posted by tocts at 8:38 AM on October 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


Hmm, my first thought before entering his post is that game streaming could be a good thing.

In sports and outdoor activities, being able to rent equipment (e.g., skis, kayaks) and temporarily use play areas (e.g., bowling lanes, driving ranges) broadens the audience that is able to enjoy them.

But, I guess the comparison would only hold if renting doesn't replace buying, because in most situations one can own skis or bowling balls if they decide they want to participate more in these activities.
posted by FJT at 9:26 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


The concern is that once it's rental, I may not be able to put a game aside for 2 or 3 years and then pick it back up and re-enjoy it without renting it again. Worse, it may not even be possible to do it at all, because the cloud provider decided to only license the game for 18 months and when usage dwindled they decided not to renew the license.

Yeah, unfortunately I don't think that this is going to be an issue with just "rentals" going forward. No game is just the disc anymore and licensing issues are going to creep in to our "owned" media. Music was removed in GTA4 just this year, Apple has been removing purchased movies from iTunes libraries, some games need to hit the publisher's server for authorization. This is just going to get worse.

Of course, they aren't going to want those fractions to match up -- they'll happily charge you 1/10th the price while delivering 1/100th the value.

Eh, I don't think they're all that intent on stiffing you 1/90th of the value. In fact they really want you to get a good deal because then you're incentivized to keep paying them. The ideal situation for them is one where you just keep paying them forever because you feel like you're getting your money's worth (or you've forgotten about it). All that said, I don't buy the $60 games anyway, so I'm not exactly the target market.
posted by ODiV at 9:37 AM on October 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


They're trying to shunt us into a rental model.

This is straight-up paranoia.

Home movie rentals coexist completely with DVD/Bluray/digital purchases. Many of the arguments people make here against game streaming are reminiscent of arguments against home video in general - "Who is going to want to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark on a TV?" Well, it turns out, lots of people. "Who is going to want to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark on a 6" diagonal smartphone?" Well, it turns out, lots of people.

This is all about growing the market.

Look, let's say you buy an XBox and 6 games and get ~40 hours of gameplay each. Not unrealistic for a AAA title.

That's 240 hours, the XBox is 200-250 depending on what you buy so let's say the machine amortizes to $1/hour. A AAA game is ~ $60 so you're paying $1.50/hour for the game. So the total cost is about $2.50 per hour. Not to mention that most gamers are paying $5 or $10 a month for Playstation Plus or XBox Live on top of that.

Guess what else costs about $2.50 per hour? A movie rental! And that business seems to be doing fine. Imagine the reverse - that you need to pay $250 for a huge box at Walmart that has 50 movies on it. Who would buy that?

Yes, it would be bad if game purchases went away. They will not go away any more than Netflix put Bluray plants out of business. It is a big multi-billion dollar market.

Ugh, we finally have some great looking consoles are people are looking to dump them for artifacts and lag

It's just different tradeoffs. A streaming game can play EVERYWHERE, not just on the set of people who have purchased your console. And you're trading streaming issues (dropouts, the resolution-framerate-bandwidth tradeoff) for limited video card hardware. A game like Titanfall already puses some rendering into the cloud because the GPU can't keep up. GPUs in datacenters will be huge and cutting edge and capable of doing stuff on demand that you'd have to drop $1000 on to do in your house.

I mean, when was the last time you grumbled about some PS4 or XBOX exclusive AAA title because you bought into the other ecosystem? Now all you need is a) literally anything the runs Chrome and b) a high-bandwidth connection which you probably wanted anyway.

From a studio's perspective, this is one more player to big on exclusive AAA titles, which is where a lot of their profit margin comes from. Studios see the platforms as their customers, not the players and having one more platform is a pure positive in the studio's eyes.

Overall this is the market growing, not things you like getting killed for something you don't like. Sheesh people, so negative.
posted by GuyZero at 9:55 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


All that said, I don't buy the $60 games anyway, so I'm not exactly the target market.

Actually I might be the target market for exactly that reason. The best situation for them is the one where people who buy will keep buying because they want to own the games and I will pay the $10/mo subscription or whatever to be able to give any of the fancy new games plus some old favourites a try without having to upgrade my video card or spend $60+ in one shot.

Too bad the Internet here sucks.
posted by ODiV at 9:55 AM on October 19, 2018


Yeah, unfortunately I don't think that this is going to be an issue with just "rentals" going forward. No game is just the disc anymore and licensing issues are going to creep in to our "owned" media. Music was removed in GTA4 just this year, Apple has been removing purchased movies from iTunes libraries, some games need to hit the publisher's server for authorization. This is just going to get worse.

Also this.

Having a perfectly preserved XBox and a shrinkwrapped copy of "Titanfall" on your shelf isn't going to do you any good once they turn down the backend servers. You're already renting games, you're just paying for the all the time upfront.
posted by GuyZero at 9:56 AM on October 19, 2018


Too bad the Internet here sucks.

Like pretty much everything Google does, Project Stream creates more demand for reliable high-speed internet service and as companies respond to that guess what else benefits? Literally every other Google service.
posted by GuyZero at 9:57 AM on October 19, 2018


So remember how mobile games were fun for a while, and then everything suddenly became free-to-play loot box in-game purchase bullshit? Get ready for streaming games to pivot to a model where they exist only to keep a small proportion of gamers on the hook for as many hours as possible. The games will follow the profit model. Downloadable games may still exist, but streaming games will be engineered to be maximally addictive. YouTube for games.
posted by phooky at 11:10 AM on October 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


A game like Titanfall already puses some rendering into the cloud because the GPU can't keep up.

I don't think this is true. The only thing I can find is a dev 'clarifying' that Titanfall uses the cloud for entirely typical dedicated servers. It seems to have been marketing nonsense to justify why Titanfall was an Xbox exclusive. This follows a broader pattern (SimCity, Elite Dangerous) where 'cloud computing' is used as a justification for a business decision and the technical explanation falls apart on closer inspection.
posted by Pyry at 11:12 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Get ready for streaming games to pivot to a model where they exist only to keep a small proportion of gamers on the hook for as many hours as possible. The games will follow the profit model.

Yes, the same way Netflix makes you watch 22 minutes of ads per hour.
posted by GuyZero at 11:22 AM on October 19, 2018


Home movie rentals coexist completely with DVD/Bluray/digital purchases. Many of the arguments people make here against game streaming are reminiscent of arguments against home video in general - "Who is going to want to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark on a TV?" Well, it turns out, lots of people. "Who is going to want to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark on a 6" diagonal smartphone?" Well, it turns out, lots of people.

Having spent a major chunk of my adult life working in video stores, I don't think that's necessarily the issue. When home video rentals first came out, individual tapes were about $80 each (wholesale?). Rentals were a way for people to watch movies at home without having to buy a huge library of expensive tapes. It wasn't a question of who would want to watch stuff at home, because there was already a demand for it, and you could already see movies on TV.

The costs were also much lower than the prices you're quoting. Even as late as 2010, you could get a rental at my video store for about $4 per week (or 2 days, if it was a new release). We had a library of about 40,000 movies, many of which were long out-of-print and otherwise completely unavailable. Per hour, this worked out to... very little (whereas if you were to buy one of those tapes, you could expect to spend $150 for some of them).

I'm not seeing any indication that games will be any cheaper streaming. Ten years ago, a new game could be $60, but it was your game: you kept it and played it whenever you want. Other people have already enumerated the problems with the current "ownership" market: you're not paying for the game, you're paying for a license to play the game, which can be revoked or altered at any time. This is where people's concerns are. The prices aren't changing, but what we get has been reduced. We've already seen situations where people couldn't play games that they bought and installed on their systems, because their internet was down and they couldn't connect to the server. That's not a good thing.

Most of the market stuff that sucks about games (like system-exclusive AAA titles) aren't because of hardware limitations, but because it makes more money for the companies. The whole reason we have exclusive titles is so people have incentive to buy those systems. It's a marketing thing, so what's to prevent exclusive deals on streaming services?

I mean, my perspective is this: my video store also rented video games, but they weren't as popular as movies, because people were put off by renting a game that they would expect to play over a long period of time. We'd usually see rentals by people who wanted to try before buying. $3.75 per week was too much to pay, even if retail was $60. The other big problem was that people didn't want to rent something, when there was uncertainty they'd be able to keep renting it until they'd finished the game -- which is kind of the same thing people are worried about here.

If movie streaming platforms are any indication, access to titles may be severely limited, and you'll lose any guarantee that you can play the game you started playing 6 months ago. Streaming severely damaged the home video market (it killed the video rental market), and I think I can expect major "disruptions" of the game market, too.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:29 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


If movie streaming platforms are any indication, access to titles may be severely limited, and you'll lose any guarantee that you can play the game you started playing 6 months ago.

a) any game with any sort of online component suffers from this same problem.

b) a lot of people don't care, it's simply not an issue for them. This is about growing the market, not taking stuff away from people who like the existing model of shrinkwrap games.

c) Video games are infinitely more complex than a movie and there's considerable platform lockin so once a given game launches on a given stream platform it's not going anywhere. They might eventually discontinue the game or shutter the entire platform but it's not like Mrs Doubtfire going from Amazon to Hulu. These are like Enterprise apps built on top of Salesforce or Azure, they're locked in there. Yes, then may be written ion top of Unity but stuff like player management and all the non-gameplay stuff is really locked in.

d) the return on capital issue just isn't present for an online platform. You pay your $10 or $20 a month and you play your games. There's no issue of discs being out too long or not having enough of them. You stop paying money, you stop playing the games. Which is already true for stuff like XBox Play Anywhere. The comparison with physical game rental is irrelevant the same way comparing Netflix to Blockbuster doesn't makes sense if you just look at movies on discs.
posted by GuyZero at 11:43 AM on October 19, 2018


Also

It's a marketing thing, so what's to prevent exclusive deals on streaming services?

There will 100% be exclusives on streaming services. Without a doubt.

It's just that you don't need to sink $200 into a console to start playing.
posted by GuyZero at 11:44 AM on October 19, 2018


Ugh, phooky that's a horrible (for the world) point. So yeah, pay $NN/month for 1 recently released AAA game, 5-10 AAA games released 6-18 months ago and a few hundred games of midling to pretty good quality. Along with that get some titles where you can pay for better play. Or if that's not your style, take a look at the prominently placed KFC Chicken Catcher!

Given what I last saw of the 360 menu, I'm kind of surprised that we're not already there (are we?) with prominently placed free games which are essentially product/logo placement.
posted by nobeagle at 12:01 PM on October 19, 2018


a) any game with any sort of online component suffers from this same problem.

Yes, every online game since basically Doom suffers to potentially the point of being unplayable over time because even if you can theoretically run your own server you've got to have enough players to coordinate to play it. This is a thing you should consider when buying into an online-only or primarily online game. This is not a thing that in any way mitigates the downsides of streaming services.

I see no evidence that these streaming services are going to only be for online-only games, and it would be ridiculous to think they would be. They will for sure be selling single-player games without online components on them, and this will be a shittier deal for the people who play them.

It also feels inevitable that this is going to lead to the licensing shit-show that is modern online streaming media. I was a big fan of Netflix from the start in the DVD days, and I still subscribe to it, but it has evolved to a point where you really can't depend on it for anything beyond 24 hours. If you like a piece of media on it, you'd better own it on disc (or like me, disc and rip to a media server), because nothing on any streaming provider is more permanent than a few months of licensing agreements.
posted by tocts at 1:48 PM on October 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


tbh I haven't played games much for a couple years and at this point it seems like there's so much single-player online-only, fully DRMed games that constantly need babysitting, day one updates, and so on that saying, fuck it, I don't own these games fully anyway and I'm hardly likely to finish a game that takes 40+hours, might as well just pay a service to let me dip in and out of a few games
posted by BungaDunga at 2:17 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Apple has been removing purchased movies from iTunes libraries

FFS, this is false. The guy who started this meme moved from Australia to Canada, where the movies in question were not available from the regional iTunes store, so he couldn’t download those movies from the Canadian store. If he already had them in his library (not just entries with the cloud icon indicating they were not actually downloaded), they would not have been removed by some nefarious command from Apple. The only thing he could have done to cause this is to find the Optimize Storage options in the MacOS and chose “Automatically remove watched iTunes movies and TV shows”.

Apple’s statement about this:
Any movies you’ve already downloaded can be enjoyed at any time and will not be deleted unless you’ve chosen to do so. If you change your country setting, some movies may not be available to re-download from the movie store if the version you purchased isn’t also available in the new country. If needed, you can change your country setting back to your prior country to re-download those movies.
So, all he had to do is temporarily change his country settings and re-download those movies.
posted by D.C. at 2:39 PM on October 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


I see no evidence that these streaming services are going to only be for online-only games, and it would be ridiculous to think they would be. They will for sure be selling single-player games without online components on them, and this will be a shittier deal for the people who play them.

I really really don't think this is a given. We'll have to see how the numbers shake out, I guess, but more than a couple full priced retail games are too expensive for me and how I play games. As a result I hardly ever will buy a game new. I'm keeping an eye on these subscription services (but not streaming because lol Internet) because it might offer me the chance to play some new games when they're part of the zeitgeist instead of 5 years later.

I guess it depends on how much value you put on the option of being able to go back and play games. Because I have that ability for a lot of the games I've purchased, but hardly ever actually do it. If I did change my mind and wanted to go back and play something that's on one of these services, then I can probably just re-up my subscription. Or I could probably find it for sale at the now-discounted price of like 1/5 to 1/10 of its original retail price.

If they manage to kill of the whole "ownership" thing, then yeah that's going to be a bummer because I'd like to have the option. I don't know that that's the goal necessarily. Ideally they'd have people paying them $60-$80 to own a flagship game and then also paying them $20/mo to play anything they might want to from the "subscription" library or whatever. I guess we'll see!

FFS, this is false.

Oh, nice. Thanks for the correction. I had just seen the original BS obviously.

So, all he had to do is temporarily change his country settings and re-download those movies.

That's very heartening. Though we still don't "own" them technically, it's nice things haven't gotten quite that bad.
posted by ODiV at 2:49 PM on October 19, 2018


This is why I don't use Steam - you only really own your stuff if you have it DRM-free, on your HD.
posted by Quackles at 2:54 PM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I had heard about that happening with some books on iTunes too, come to think of it. Was that regional misunderstanding too, I wonder?

Also, I doubt you own it even then, Quackles. Though at least then you're in control of it.
posted by ODiV at 2:57 PM on October 19, 2018



Also, I doubt you own it even then, Quackles. Though at least then you're in control of it.


You may be right in the legal sense. But without DRM to gunk things up, we revert to possession being 9/10 of the law.
posted by Quackles at 3:03 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


If the push was to allow you to load your own games onto cloud-based hardware, I'd have very different feelings about it.

Umm, that's what GeForce Now does. You buy a game on Steam (they also support one other service now and others are planned) and play it on Nvidia's servers. There is also a library of games included with the (currently $0) subscription as there has been since the beginning.

Before the Steam integration you did have to buy games that weren't included from NVidia, but they have always included Steam keys, so it's never been tied to Nvidia alone.

Gamestream, on the other hand, streams games or other programs (including mstsc.exe ;)) directly from your PC, so it works no matter the source of the game.
posted by wierdo at 8:51 PM on October 19, 2018


Streaming games is just bad engineering in general: too many extra and unnecessary moving parts...especially for a product that requires almost instant input to output response.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:43 AM on October 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


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