Gaming in Transition and Revolution: Pt 4 of 4

Part 4 of 4 (Innovation Changers)

This will be my final installment on this blog topic titled: Gaming - in transition and revolution. To briefly recap the previous topics I first talked about the impact of Mobile. In my second installment I covered the changes and evolutions occurring in both formats and business models. In the last blog I covered globalization and some of those impacts. For purposes of today’s discussion I’ll talk about what I believe are going to be the biggest Innovation changers from a gaming perspective.

There are really three standouts for me.

Gesture Computing: Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. While gesture computing and devices have existed for quite some time as ‘science-experiments’, this particular innovation didn’t really get mainstream traction until the advent of the Wii-Motion Controller. Microsoft of course escalated this and took it to a whole new level by having no input device other than the user themselves for the Kinect on Xbox 360. The result is now we have PC-like devices (Console/s, soon Windows PC’s) that recognize human gestures. Microsoft did a smart thing by releasing an SDK for the Kinect allowing others to create innovative gesture based interactive applications. I believe they realized that keeping it solely in the domain of the Xbox would have been far too limiting; and it proved to be far too juicy of a target for hackers which is the last thing any Console can afford to have happen. The trend derived from all this is that humans now have additional options for interacting with devices. In the grand scheme of it all for gaming I really believe that what this gets us closer to is what I call ‘Sensory Computing’. This will tie Gesture, Voice, Touch, and ultimately Artificial Intelligence (AI) altogether.

Wireless: The second big innovation changer may not sound so interesting or sexy by comparison but I feel is just as important are the advancements taking place for Wireless Technologies. While this has been around now for quite some time the improvements are no less astounding. In thinking back to the days of ‘dial-up modems’ in the 90’s with 28-56 baud rates to what we have access to today with things like gigabit wireless routers and WHDI (Wireless Home Digital Interface) one has to wonder what the next five, ten, or twenty years are going to look like? From a gamers perspective I’m still a big stickler for any perceivable latency rates. However; things are getting to the point now where most of the time it’s no longer an issue when I’m playing my online or multi-player games across a WiFi network. Being able to view my entertainment experiences such as Games, Movies, etc interactively and seamlessly between all the devices I own is an interesting prospect indeed but has some very deep implications from a Content Designer, and Platform owners perspective. In that world proprietary will actually be a huge detriment.

Web Graphics: The third and final biggest innovation changer occurring right now is that of Web Graphics. I’m keeping a very close eye on the advancements taking place in browsers such as Google Chrome, FireFox, and Internet Explorer. The graphics capabilities of things like WebGL, HTML 5.0, or even Silverlight have come a very long way very rapidly and in my opinion are fast closing the gap on DirectX 9 level of graphics prettiness. These graphics stacks are also tapping into the power of GPUs further intensifying and accelerating Web Graphics capabilities. Tying this back to the implications for gaming or any entertainment scenario involving graphics is huge. Most notably it comes down to the features and visual acuity of what these graphics stacks can deliver across a browser. Since even most 1st person shooter style games have been dumbed-and-slowed-down for Console style gamepads there are really no games left that theoretically couldn’t be taken to a browser. The implications and cause and effect are enormous to the Gaming Industry. For starters the game can now be delivered across anything that has a capable browser. Mileage will of course vary based on the hardware and screen present. However; the cool thing is now the Developer/Publisher of the game has access to ~10x or more the number of potential consumers. Even better the game is no longer chained to one particular platform or another. (Bye Bye Consoles…. Bye Bye…..)

So there you have it. What I believe are going to be the three biggest game changers and disruptors for gaming in the near to long term.
1. Gesture Computing being a precursor to a more immersive Sensory Computing experience
2. Wireless continuing to break the chains
3. Web Graphics, as it evolves, forever altering the landscape for how we access and consume games.

What does it all mean? What’s the purpose of this four part blog? What are the key points I’m trying to make?

Let me close with this. What I touched on in these four blog posts is seriously only the tip of the iceberg. I also feel its imperative that companies step back and look at what I discussed as holistically as possible and what the ramifications are long term. The most salient part about all this is that the big 4 trends that I touched on don’t happen independently of each other. They all happen simultaneously. So my personal advice is as follows:

1. Start with Mobile as the standard platform and fan out from there to other devices. To be crystal clear that is Smart/iPhones for something that fits in your hand, and thin and light laptops. Tablets/Slates are nothing more than a distraction in my opinion since they’ll morph and transform into being another iteration of a thin and light laptop anyway.
2. To deliver content consider free to play and digital distribution as key options; and steer away from exclusives. Out of the gate you want to be able to hit as many consumers as you can. (That or ask for far more money than you do for an exclusive)
3. Consider globalization not as something scary; but something to embrace as a means by which to grow the pie considerably. Think globally and in terms of what the rest of the worlds disposable income rates are. (You’d be hard pressed to hit a billion users otherwise)
4. Innovation-wise I believe the real big game changers are typically those that take years to evolve. Don’t get too distracted with bright shiny objects. Long term the open, or smartly managed primarily-open platforms have the best chances of survival due their inherent flexibility.

So that concludes this blog as I go into my 4th of July weekend. I’m sure there are some gross generalities or oversights on my part. (I’m human!) I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. I hope you all have a great weekend. If you have other thoughts or insights to add by all means please comment!

- Matt
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