Microsoft is pushing hard to make mainstream cloud gaming reality, partnering with Samsung to release a smart TV app while making it a big part of the Xbox Game Pass package. But at least one former Xbox developer thinks there are still plenty of issues to work out.
Speaking with IGN on the occasion of the launch of his new studio, Jar of Sparks, former Xbox developer Jerry shared his thoughts on whether we’re near the end of the line for the traditional console model. Hook, who once helped launch Xbox Live and most recently worked on Halo Infinite, has his doubts.
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“My brain says [this isn’t the last console generation], even in my notes for the studio, it’s like, okay, [the next console generation] should land about here, so let’s at least plan for it,” Hook says. “But yeah, I have a hard time saying that it would be the last one just because of the struggle my friends globally have with streaming. And if everything’s going to be in the cloud, you can’t have millisecond delays, especially for what I consider AAA, like e-sports and competitive games, that just won’t work. So you’ll need something there.”
Hook himself is taking a decidedly old-school approach with Jar of Sparks, choosing to focus on narrative action-adventure games rather than live service games, which he considers risky for a fledgling studio.
Games like the ones that Hook wants to make are ostensibly a good fit for the sort of cloud-based tech Xbox is offering, but online games are a different matter. Hook has plenty of experience making online shooters himself, and he thinks top competitive players will balk at any amount of input delay.
“Yeah, you really have to talk to esports players and you ask them and they’ll go, ‘Nope,'” Hook says. “They get mad when we have input lag just to the console at times, so it’s something that I think again, for the general or the hobbyists where we’re just not good enough. I know I’m not good enough to detect some of it, but some of it you can still detect or when there’s spikes within the network. It’s that kind of thing where the last mile problem of networking that you’re always going to have to manage, that you can’t predict because everyone’s house isn’t standard.”
Regardless, Xbox continues to press ahead with cloud gaming while publishers like Square Enix release cloud-based games of their own, such as the widely-panned Kingdom Hearts 1.5+2.5 Remix for Nintendo Switch. It hasn’t been all bad though — there are plenty of anecdotes to be found of players enjoying games like The Ascent with a mobile phone and a Backbone controller.
Either way, we’re getting close to a turning point, with Hook himself acknowledging that we’re “getting dang close” to a truly high-quality cloud gaming experience. Until then traditional consoles will have to suffice.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.