Thought there was only one way to stream 3D interactive content?

If you’re told something enough, you'll probably start believing it. But that doesn’t mean it’s true.

Here at Polysteam we think it's time for a little myth and misunderstanding busting.

If you think we’ve missed anything (or we've got one wrong) let us know at [email protected]

Myth #1: Latency is the killer

It doesn't have to be.  The golden rule is the further away you are from the servers the more latency you will experience. Other things may impact this such as your internet connection or your router but honestly, at the heart of the issue is distance. A way to reduce as much latency as possible is to be able to deliver the widest reach possible serving from where you need it, when you need it.

Myth #2: Online gaming is about selling to people with old devices

There is no evidence for this.  In fact, the evidence points to the contrary.  People who spend on high-end entertainment tend to buy more new devices to consume it on.

But don’t just take our word from it. Phil Spencer from Xbox feels the same way.
“I don’t need to sell any specific version of the console in order for us to reach our business goals. The business isn’t how many consoles you sell. The business is how many players are playing the games that they buy, how they play. So if somebody bought an original Xbox One from us on launch day, and they’re buying and playing games, I don’t need to sell them an S. I don’t need to sell them an X. If they want to stay on the Xbox One they have and stay as a great member of our community or subscribe to Game Pass, that’s a great business for us.”

Read more here

Myth #3: Streaming means ‘play anything, anywhere, on any device’

This is a sales pitch; not reality. There is no evidence from other streaming services that this happens at scale.  It’s a snappy marketing message, but usage reality is somewhat different. Use occasions matter and technology matters.  What is important to consider is providing the best experience for the device, person and location and to deliver that vision, it may require nuances. 

Remember, mobile gaming took off because it offered mobile experiences.  All the evidence from mobile gaming and other mobile entertainment services is that consumers want mobile-native experiences. 

Here is a great article on the future of mobile gaming.

Myth #4: All GPUs are created equally

There used to be GPUs and GPGPUs. Somehow, the GP or “general purpose” on some GPUs got dropped. But this doesn’t mean they became GPUs just because they lost their prefix.

Beware! It may seem like there are already lots of GPUs in the cloud but general purpose GPUs can’t and will never be able to manage the graphic workload required for 3D interactive games, content and applications.

Sheep in wolves clothing?

Ultimately we are creating more 3D Interactive content than there are GPUs in the cloud ready to stream that content.  As our appetite to have more and more interactive content increases we will continue to outpace our ability to deliver.

Myth #5: Netflix for games

Honestly, it’s a bit lazy, like saying iTunes for video. Great for very high-level positioning and broad intent, but it glosses over the inherent differences in the industries.  You can watch Netflix when you’re cooking, can work on your laptop when you watching, and so on. It's a passive activity. Nicknamed lean-back (TV) and lean-forward (games) can be pretty different. Really it’s a content proposition.

Netflix is most famous for box-set bingeing, you hook somebody into a show, use the season to establish a habitual behaviour and feed them with the next similar piece of content. Games can be similar to that and people are loyal to franchises, but there isn't (yet) that chunking the asset into discrete assets. Chapters, etc do exist within a game - but there isn't that perception of thousands of pieces of content in a single all-you-can-eat subscription.

Then there are content libraries, you can aggregate content, EA, Xbox, Playstation all do this. But the business models almost never work for third parties, so even if a consumer thinks it would be a great offering, you can't build a content blend of leading titles that monetise for all the parties from a subscription of $10/month.

The AAA, which is where people spend hundreds of hours, get all the revenue, the small titles see next to nothing.

Myth #6: Everyone wants to do everything in a browser

No. Google wants everyone to do everything in Chrome because it fits with their business model - you are gifting them your data.  And browsers don’t equal universal reach. The usage evidence from music and video streaming, as well as many other cloud services, shows that people like dedicated apps.

Spotify, Netflix, Skype, and Dropbox are all good at what they do - they all maintain a strong app strategy.  UX/UI is better, usage and engagement higher and churn lower. And you get to keep control of your customer data.

Myth #7: The cost of scale and concurrency

As 3D interactive content and applications continues to evolve with existing approaches content providers wanting to use the cloud will be more and more reliant on GPUs in the cloud to scale to meet increasing demand.

We are starting to see the impact of this as cloud gaming starts to increase in popularity with the launch of Google Stadia for example.  But today's cloud gaming solutions have a problem with scale and concurrency, there's nearly 200 million current generation consoles in market, that's a huge amount of compute to replace, especially for peak usage. Putting all that graphics processing in the cloud is eye wateringly expensive, even if you're Google, which leads to difficult business models.

Simply put.  On average gamers will play 6 hours a week.  In a month this equals 26 hours. If your cloud provider is charging you 50cents per hour to use a cloud GPU to stream (and this is a discounted rate) then your OPEX costs alone are $13.  Not much change left, if any, from your subscription rates.

Check out this cloud gaming cost calculator from Parsec

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