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Are streaming games just about to start happening...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Arowx, Mar 27, 2018.

  1. Arowx

    Arowx

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    With 4k movies expected to weighting in at about 100 GB and need a 15-25 Mbs* bandwidth speed could we also see streaming AAA games.

    By this I don't mean games running on a server and streaming 4k video to your device although this will probably happen.

    I mean you no longer need the full game on your HD/SSD you can just stream them as you play them and cache their data.

    I know that web based games already do this although they tend to be much smaller in memory than full on AAA/Console games that weight in around the 50-100+Gb scale.

    My thinking is if you can stream 4k video and additional game data then with a transition technology you could start with the running on video and transition to local as the worlds data is downloaded to cache.

    If this is just over the horizon e.g. next level internet speeds then could we see the big players adopting Netflix style subscription services or is this already happening?


    *Amazon think > 15 Mb, Netflix think > 25 Mb bandwidth needed for 4k video.
     
  2. AcidArrow

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    This is already happening. It hasn't caught on too much, because latency is an issue and it will be an issue for quite a while.
     
  3. Arowx

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    It also an odd demographic, someone who can afford super fast broadband and pay for a subscription service but not afford a console or gaming PC?
     
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  4. ThermodynamicsMakesMeHot

    ThermodynamicsMakesMeHot

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    Canadian's are not ODD demographics :) :)

    You see, in Canada....to put in in perspective: Up to 150MBPS (which averages around 25MB download) Which is 110$ a month + 14% Tax. Then suppose you want a cellphone too...that's 95$+tax a month for only 1 GB data plan with unlimited calling locally in your city....So just to have decent internet and a cellphone costs more then most car payments.

    Top that up with average of 80-90$ games and 400$ systems...streaming service for 10-20bucks is a lot more manageable for the majority of the population.
     
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  5. Murgilod

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    Not to mention that the vast majority of Canadian ISPs will charge you for bandwidth overages, and most of them only offer 60gigs per month unless you pay even more. Internet up here is a nightmare
     
  6. Dustin-Horne

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    Not just Candian ISPs... must US ISPs are placing bandwidth caps on plans as well. Even my ISP does for most plans, however I'm fortunate enough to be on their direct fiber service which has no caps or overages. That's going to be one of the biggest hurdles though, and it's even slowed the delivery of 4K content for video streaming. Most people can't do it because of ISP limitations.
     
  7. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    Lots of games already do this in differing amounts. The benefit though isn't that you don't have the "full game on your HD/SSD", because you end up with it anyway once you've cached it, it is that you can start the game before everything in the game world has been written to disk. Then either the rest of the game comes in while you're playing, or are downloaded on demand as the player encounters them and won't need to request them again if they are in the cache.

    Building your game so that it functions as a remotely streaming service doesn't sound like a good use of development resources if that is intended just to be used while installing the game. Also the streaming will be competing for bandwidth with downloading the game.

    "Netflix style game subscription services" were a standard in MMO games a decade ago. The consumer killed most of them in favor of the Free to Play model. I see nothing to suggest the consumer would change their mind just to free up some disk space or get to play the game while it is installing (most people just play another game while they wait anyway, so it is not a big deal).
     
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  8. Arowx

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    Just a thought but what if the quality settings of the game instead of being something you set manually were dynamic depending on bandwidth, computers performance and your desired/the games ideal frame rate.

    So lower spec hardware would download less than high end hardware and both could be limited by bandwidth speed, at least until you play long enough to get the full HD textures.
     
  9. Arowx

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    Well I was thinking it would be more of a game engine service, actually wasn't there a Unity demo where they showed of streaming in content, quite old now, I think it had a helicopter in it and was for the now defunct webplayer???
     
  10. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    Note that the Unity Personal, Plus, and Pro licenses specifically disallow remote gameplay streaming. If you want to pursue that with Unity you'll need to contact them regarding whatever it takes to get their separate streaming license.

    https://unity3d.com/legal/terms-of-service/software
     
  11. Arowx

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    This restriction does not prevent end users from remotely accessing your Project Content from an end user device that is running on another end user device.

    Otherwise this clause would block server based multi-player and web player.

    I think this clause is aimed at preventing you re-boxing the Unity Editor.
     
  12. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    If it was just about streaming the editor they could have simplified that section, and it wouldn't call out the Unity runtime and your Project Content as what you can't stream or broadcast.
     
  13. Arowx

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    Well I'm guessing they are going to have to update this clause once bandwidth improves enough to play as you download.
     
  14. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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    I’m sure that if things actually changed, they would update their license.

    But as said, this already happens, a lot. At least in terms of content, and it will and is improving. It’s nothing new. Pure streaming will likely never be ubiquitous beyond special case scenarios.
     
  15. Kiwasi

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    In order for pure streaming to catch on, the following needs to happen:

    - Streaming needs to provide at least equivalent quality as local
    - Streaming needs to provide significant cost improvements over local

    As yet, neither of these has happened. But you can bet when both do happen, local gaming will die as quickly as local video has.
     
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  16. zombiegorilla

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    The problem here is that this is a logical impossibility. Streaming static limited content will always be cheaper than live unique content. So bandwidth will always be more expensive.

    There is also the costs associated with processing the content. It still has to run somewhere. In theory, a server instance running a game 'could' be cheaper than a game box, the end user would still need some sort of hardware for decoding and input. But there would also be all the infrastructure to support multiple game servers, and multiple types of game servers (including local storage for content). Practically speaking all you would be doing is shifting the storage and processing upstream to the developer/publisher. If a console game is currently around $70, how much would it be if that game now includes (essentially) the cost of the hardware to run it on? Granted, if the system was large enough and had enough users, the cost would go down, but would it ever get below the cost of a local game box amortized across many games and sessions? (minus the cost of local streaming box).

    IF in the future bandwidth dropped to almost nothing, and IF infrastructure was in place to handle it, streaming live games could reach a place where they are only marginally more expensive than a local box. But they would certainly be more expensive than a current game. That may be acceptable if the convenience was enough of an improvement, and reliability was at an acceptable level. But with that also would come an even higher barrier of entry for smaller games and studios.
     
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  17. LurkingNinjaDev

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  18. Joe-Censored

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    This was touched on already, but I think latency is the biggest road block. Streaming video doesn't have this problem, because it doesn't matter at all if you're a half second behind the streaming server in the video displayed on screen. In fact all of the video streaming solutions buffer ahead to account for dips in network throughput, etc. Even when you watch live video online you're usually a few seconds behind.

    Games though feel sluggish and terrible with even the slightest delay of the UI, and in many game types the movement of the character. At best you're going to get the responsiveness of your round trip ping time to the streaming server as a delay to whatever you do in the game. So you click a button, and it doesn't happen immediately but slightly delayed. Every button, every character movement, etc.

    Most fast paced networked games already include movement extrapolation for objects other than the local character, and immediate local character movements in response to player commands that are done ahead of syncing to the server. You lose all that if you are streaming the whole game experience similar to a video stream.
     
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  19. Arowx

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    OK Streaming seems to be the wrong terminology.

    Dynamic downloading, caching and playing is more along the lines of what I'm thinking of.

    E.g. Typical Game Session:
    1. Splash Screen/Video
    2. Intro Video
    3. Menu
    4. Setup Screens / Sub Menus
    5. First Scene / Training Scene
    6. Playing game level by level or zone by zone in open world
    My theory is (assuming 1-4 take a couple of minutes first time through) if you can stream/cache the data at high enough bandwidth speed the game could be downloading as you play it.

    The question is how fast does the download speed need to be especially as it might also have to be running a multiplayer game.

    Lets assume you need about 4,8,16 GB of data to run the first scene then
    50, 100, 200, 400 Mbps ​
    4 GB - 11 mins, 5 mins, 2.5 mins, 1.25 mins
    8 GB - 22 mins, 11 mins, 5, mins, 2.5 mins
    16 GB - 44 mins, 22 mins, 11, mins, 5 mins

    Just a rough guide but in the 200 Mbps upwards speeds we could have the potential for current AAA games to download as you play. Of course AAA games will increase in requirements from 2k, 4k, 6k, 8k upwards over time.

    PS: Could procedural game content allow for dynamic local game content creation e.g. textures/LOD/levels/scenarios with lower download memory requirements?

    PPS: Could a game increase the difficulty level if it's not yet got the next level downloaded, forcing the player to spend longer or retry a few times?
     
  20. Arowx

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    Especially with high end gamers opting for 120-240hz monitors for a gaming advantage.
     
  21. zombiegorilla

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    This already exists, and has for a while. You can do this in unity even.
     
  22. Kiwasi

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    I probably should have said if instead of when. I'm also not convinced it will ever happen. But I would have said the same thing about video twenty years ago.

    If its going to be done, I'm picking it will be done with some breaking technology that we haven't properly developed yet.
     
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  23. Ryiah

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    Asset bundles. Unity has had them for a very long time now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
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  24. Arowx

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    Really have they improved Asset bundles as last time I checked they require a lot of manual work to setup and use?

    If UT have a streamable/downloadable asset bundling solution that can automatically set up and use a set of download and play asset bundles then it's already here?
     
  25. Kiwasi

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    There have been a bunch of improvements. Its still a couple hours of boilerplate coding. But after that you can pretty much run the whole system in an automated fashion.
     
  26. yoonitee

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    I used to be subscribed to OnLive. It was great. For about $5-10 a month I got to play loads of high end games on my low end laptop. I played both Batman Arkham Asylum and City and started BioShock before it glitched.
    There was a small lag but not too much to do most games. (It was actually more noticeable on 2D games)
    But if folded because they didn't get enough users.
    I miss it. :'(
     
  27. angrypenguin

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    I don't know about this. Consumers regularly compromise on quality for price or convenience. The whole CD -> MP3 transition was a giant compromise in quality that most users happily embraced.

    I would hope so. My PC at home sits unused most of the time. It's probably somewhere around 20% utilised. I suspect that if it were a part of a pool it could get 80% or more utilisation.

    Plus, when you buy a PC for yourself it has to be based on the most demanding thing you're going to do on it. If I want to play bleeding edge games I need a beefy PC, even if I'm only actually playing them 10% of the time. On the other hand, in a pool that would mean that only a portion of the PCs need to be able to handle that, because any less demanding games can be shunted to older hardware. So not only is utilisation increased, probably so is effective hardware lifetime.

    And the local streaming box could be something many people already have, like their existing PC, or even something like a phone or tablet. Short of that, it'd be something like a Steam Link and even in Australia they're only $90.

    Mind you, I'm not saying the system as a whole would work. Latency is a killer. Bandwidth is an issue that would only get worse if we streamed more stuff. I suspect that the logistics of running and maintaining pools close enough to audiences would be a significant challenge. Netflix style monetisation doesn't strike me as being in the industry's best interests (or the audience's, in the long term). And so on...
     
  28. zombiegorilla

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    I was thinking more in terms of game boxes, (xbox, ps, nin) as those would probably be the demographic that would be likely to adopt such a service. Those are only a few hundred dollars every couple of years. I doubt core PC gamers would go for such a thing, they tend to be a pretty demanding lot. But, yea, it could be cheaper at full scale. But the adoption rate would have to pretty much at a single provider level like Apple or at least a massive standardization that a big host could provide servers like AWS or something. Someone would have to place a massive bet on such a future in terms of investment. Or already have the infrastructure and side-bet on it. (like AWS).

    Exactly. Yea, that is the big obstacle, money. The costs to build it would be massive, and there would have to be justifiable returns to risk it. I believe that for the most part, publishers and market places don't really see distribution as as a massive problem that needs to be solved or money to made by massively reworking it. Maybe AWS, Cisco, Sun, etc may see opportunity there, though. Also, Netflix works so well because most people are watching largely the same stuff. If you are watching Stranger Things during its first few months, you are most likely watching a cached copy on some dumb box at your local ISP. It's dirt cheap. Netflix streaming basically opened up a whole new audience/market. Game streaming would really just be slightly different from what we already have.
     
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  29. Kiwasi

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    Complete sci-fi level speculation here. But there is a scenario which could cover both requirements.

    Network technology could plausibly make use of quantum coupling. In theory this allows for instantaneous communication over infinite distance, entirely solving the latency/bandwidth issues. Its also plausible that quantum computers could develop in a way that makes them unfeasibly expensive on the small scale, but practical on the large scale (much like nuclear power plants). Thus we could end up with a situation where centralized computing makes sense, in the same way centralized power generation makes sense.

    Of course, this is pure speculation. Technology could develop in any number of different ways which doesn't produce the drive to centralization.
     
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  30. LurkingNinjaDev

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    Well, that's not that simple. When you measure a spin on an entangled particle, you get a random result. And the other entangled particle will have the opposite of this random result. So unfortunately the quantum entanglement can't be used to communicate information faster than light. At least not based on the current knowledge of quantum physics.


    But it's a cool base in a sci-fi story. :)
     
  31. Kiwasi

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    Yeah, I'm way into sci fi territory here. But its an arowx thread, so that's kind of the expected norm.

    We can say fairly confidently with current technology that there is no need or value to a games streaming service. We can say with the current trends in technology there will be no need or value to a streaming games service in the future.

    Which leaves the only way we can get a games streaming service up and running is to introduce a major disruptive technology into the mix.
     
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  32. LurkingNinjaDev

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    I will repeat myself, it already exists: https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/shield/games/geforce-now/

    And since they are holding up, I guess there are people who are using it. But I may be wrong.

    I, personally, don't see the benefit at this point nor in the future. The storage is cheap. We can store terrabytes nowadays. There is no need to stream games. And it's complicated, because of the latency you mentioned.
     
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  33. zombiegorilla

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    All true. But imagine when we get to that point, everything we currently do with games and tech and communication will have evolved / changed beyond what currently can imagine. Especially if that last several decades are any indicator. ;). Though I suspect Comcast will still be involved.
     
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  34. zenGarden

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    Nintendo fans like to buy Nintendo consoles and Amiibos, they don' t want streaming :p

    Or because any internet issue and you you're stuck.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
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  35. Arowx

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    There is Nielsen's law...



    A high end users bandwidth increases by 50% a year so.

    2018 300 Mbs
    2019 450 Mbs
    2020 675 Mbs
    2021 1,012.5 Mbs
    2022 1,518.75 Mbps

    So in about 3 years we will be hitting the 1 Gbps bandwidth speeds and downloading will be happening so fast we can be playing and downloading game content within seconds e.g. 1 GB in 8 seconds.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
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  36. Murgilod

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    Except, again, bandwidth isn't the only issue here. There are plenty of ISPs that cap how much you can download. I once burned through my ISP's cap in two days.
     
  37. zombiegorilla

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    And demands on bandwidth increases as well needs to manage increasing connections. It’s an arms race. Just like as processors get faster, photoshop is never fast enough.
     
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  38. ShilohGames

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    The main advantage of Netflix streaming vs Netflix DVD is the streaming lets you instantly watch movies and shows instead of waiting a few days for the mail to arrive. With games, Steam already delivers that same advantage. I can buy a game through Steam right now and play it in a few minutes. There is no smart reason to actually play a game over a stream, though, since the latency would ruin the experience and a fully streaming solution would additionally require powerful gaming rigs in a server room. Steam is already the correct solution for both the provider and the consumer.

    The secondary advantage of streaming Netflix is that you get access to a bunch of content for a flat monthly rate. That is a policy solution, and not a technical one. That policy could be applied to some service like Steam without literally streaming frames.
     
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  39. Teila

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    Playstation4 already has a game streaming service. We recently purchased the console and subscribed to the streaming service. Huge problem though...the streaming of games uses a lot of bandwidth.

    With a family of five, one on her computer playing Palidins, another on her computer watching game and art tutorials, me browsing the internet, and my husband watching Netflix, someone always get knocked off when my son starts streaming a game on PS4. It is never the PS4 that has a problem, always one of the other internet users.

    And we have decent internet!

    Makes me think that directly streaming the games may not be such a great idea in many parts of the world.
     
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  40. zenGarden

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    Yep.
    And what is the advantage about streaming compared to download the game ?
    Can't a player wait some seconds the game downloads (with a good bandwidth) ?
    He will be able to play with no lag, he he can play offline when the game is not multiplayer.

    Microsoft game pass is that, you have a catalog you can download as you wish and you avoid bandwidth issues or internet connection problems.

    Anyway it's just my point of view, i don't see a huge benefit between play in streaming over downloading the game.
     
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  41. Teila

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    My son says the lag is horrible. He plays in the evening, probably when everyone else in our country is playing.
     
  42. EternalAmbiguity

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    So one says, but as zenGarden mentioned Microsoft's Game Pass was just unveiled, and EA has the Origin Access program. It seems like this is the way things are going, and they aren't doing this to lose money.
     
  43. zombiegorilla

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    Well if Microsoft is doing it... hopefully in the near future we can stream games to our zunes and windows phones.
     
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  44. Teila

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    Maybe..but we are cancelling our PS4 Now account. The lag and the consumption of bandwidth does not make it worth $20 a month. After that experience, it would be a while before we would subscribe to another game streaming service.

    We do have an Origin subscription where one can download PC games to your computer. That works great. We will stick with those.

    With three kids (teens and young adults), we try to maximize our game buying power. lol Streaming is not working but subscriptions to download sites works well. They get a variety of games so that everyone can find something they like, but it costs us a lot less.
     
  45. EternalAmbiguity

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    Ouch. My Zune HD still works though :p

    But this is hardly a similar situation. In both of those cases Microsoft was late to the market, and didn't bring much new to the table for quite some time.

    In this case they're (one of) the market leaders for this specific idea, along with HoloLens, so there's obviously no "catching up" to do but also little or no innovation standard they have to "match." They're setting it.

    Edit: I'm not convinced this is a significant argument, but worth pointing out that this is a Nadella-esque service initiative, which Microsoft has been pretty successful with lately (Office 365 anyone...). It still requires their box (at least until they bring it to PC, which of course requires Windows but is more open), which makes me hesitant to tag it as an automatic success, but it is in that new service direction which seems to be working for them.

    Game Pass isn't a streaming service. It's the same as the Origin subscription, where it's simply a bunch of games you have access to like Netflix.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
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  46. zenGarden

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    Yeah.
    But there will always be people that want to buy a physical cartridge or CD.
    - you can lend your game to a friend or anyone
    - you can resell it at the price YOU want
    - you can buy the game at a price different from the the catalog service sells it
    - you will stay be able to play your game despite catalog changes like the game no more available for any reason
    - you can have a physical collection of games

    This is why i also like CD or cartridge versions.
    If all consoles would do like Steam, i think it will be kickstarters for consoles using CD or cartridge lol
     
  47. Teila

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    [QUOTE="EternalAmbiguity, post: 3444528, member: 741783"
    Game Pass isn't a streaming service. It's the same as the Origin subscription, where it's simply a bunch of games you have access to like Netflix.[/QUOTE]

    Silly me, I completely misread your comment. :) Understand now.
     
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  48. EternalAmbiguity

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    This is about physical, not about owning a game vs. renting it via a service. But true.

    True, but should be balanced against the fact that you no longer have the game.

    We've had this for years. Green Man Gaming, cdkeys.com, etc...you've also got the grey market sites too, though I have no idea if they're still around (only ever heard of G2A because of the controversy).

    Certainly true.

    See #1.

    The thing is, different people view all of these things differently. I don't care one bit about a physical collection, or about resale. I do care very much about owning (or rather, owning the license, as we don't actually own any of the games we play) the game.

    If enough people don't care about these things, like they don't for Netflix, the service will be successful. For what it's worth, I'm not one of those people, and I never intend to use such services. But I recognize that not everyone is like me.
     
  49. zombiegorilla

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    You’re right, it’s not similar. But it is worth noting that a large company exploring a technology isn’t an indicator of future adoption.

    Improved streaming, as a foundational tech, has a lot of application and uses. Streaming full large games with no local aspect, probably isn’t one though. At least as a primary usage.
     
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  50. Teila

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    But all us old folks will die out and the young kids are from the generations of instant gratification. :)

    We do not by CDs or cartridges anymore unless we get them used and then rarely. Why? Because over the years, more CDs have been destroyed than I can count...or lost. Rarely do we buy movies on DVD either. In fact, we bought Big Bang Theory because it is not streamed and we had forgotten how to use the Blue Ray player. :)