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Phil Wainewright

All Your Game Are Belong the Cloud

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While I'm an ardent supporter of cloud computing, I've always leant towards the view that some computing is best left on the client — in particular, processor-intensive aspects of the user interface, such as the graphics you find in games. But that view is challenged in a fascinating interview by Andrew Nusca with Charlie Boswell, who is director of digital media and entertainment at chipmaker AMD.

In the interview, Boswell discusses AMD's partnership with OTOY, which develops server-side rendering technology that allows "a fully-interactive high-definition gaming experience served up from the cloud. The Fusion Render Cloud lets you play a game through a Web browser, for example."

Why on earth would anyone prefer to play games through a web browser rather than have them running on the machine sitting in their lap? Boswell sums up the attractions, both for players and for developers:

"With this, you just click and you're playing. If you're the game developer or publisher, you don't have to worry about piracy because you're not sending disks out. Your manufacturing costs go because you're not sending out thousands of discs. They'd rather let you play all their games and pay a subscription. There's a new business model ... Game companies are going to be like cable companies: you send them a check and get everything."

It'll be much easier for players, because they'll be able to start playing a new game without any of the inconvenience of mega-downloads and driver incompatibilities:
"Rather than install, you do a Web click. That's it, you're running. It's running in a browser. There's no arabesque menu system, no waiting — it's instant. That's the new mode of operation for the Internet."

Consumers will embrace this, he believes, and he says he's found a lot of enthusiasm from the advertising industry. Rendering in the cloud wastes less energy too, delivering a green benefit, as well as an economic benefit to buyers:
"If I want my students to learn Adobe After Effects, I have to have 30 licenses and 30 machines. There's a user experience economic windfall that's going to happen here. It will force people to think differently.
"Today our lives are literally strapped to devices that have all your data on it. Storing that stuff in the cloud offers opportunities for better security."
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In fact, the only people who won't want this to come about are computer technologists, he says: "You don't need armies of geeks anymore ... It's the nerdorati, the technical guys, that are resistant."

Phil Wainewright blogs about how businesses are using the Web to get better plugged into today's fast-moving, digital economy.

Phil Wainewright

Phil Wainewright specializes in on-demand services View more

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