I’m writing this Tuesday night after coming home from my second day at the Game Developers Conference 2019
in San Francisco, California. I’ve already attended a half-dozen talks and interviews, and I’ve seen almost a dozen games (11 from indie developers and publishers).
Outside the excellent panels and Ubisoft presentation I attended Monday, most of the jibber-jabber on Day One focused on Google’s plans. What was it doing? Would it be a cloud platform with just a controller? Would it be a triple-A player? Turns out both parts of that speculation had kernels of truth. Google dropped Stadia on us Tuesday morning
, and now the industry is wondering what this means – can Google deliver better infrastructure for cloud gaming than OnLive and other failed attempts? In the United States, we’re worried about if our broadband can handle cloud gaming of this magnitude. Considering I can’t get top-tier internet-speed performance despite living less than 20 miles from the heart of Silicon Valley, these concerns are valid.
Let’s go back to Ubisoft, though. I did an interview with Darryl Long, the managing director of Ubisoft Winnipeg. This is the French gaming giant’s newest studio, and it focuses more on AI, cloud infrastructure, and procedural algorithms that help Ubisoft’s 12,000 employees make huge game worlds like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and sharp-looking online games like The Division 2, which came out March 15. It’s a showcase for Ubisoft’s Snowdrop game engine and collaborative manner that its teams use to add and grow the tech. Look for our interview later this week.
And then I think of game designer Jason Rohrer’s Monday chat about the “indie apocalypse.” The creator of acclaimed indies such as The Passage and The Castle Doctrine broke down how he’s seen the market shake out — finding less demand in short narrative games (which people finish and don’t come back to) and significant growth in what he terms “unique situation generators” — games like Stardew Valley and Subnautica — that people can come back to time and time again. These are ideal for Twitch Streamers and YouTubers, as they can make it about their unique experiences in the games.
But most of all, I’ve been thinking about what all this means for GamesBeat’s coverage of PC Gaming for the rest of 2019. Should we talk more about how AI and algorithms help artists and designers make games? Should we do more on how live service games and these “unique situation generators” are taking over gaming? Does Stadia represent a shift in gaming’s paradigm, or is it just another step on the road to an all-cloud future — one where we have even less ownership of our games? Drop me
or Jeff Grubb
any time and let me know what you think.
— Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor