For several years, cloud gaming has lingered in the shadows, patiently waiting for technology to take a step in the right direction. It took quite the leap this gen, securing a place on many a platform thanks to the likes of PlayStation Now, Google Stadia, and the newly released xCloud. Cloud gaming still isn’t as prevalent as many may have expected, though. And by Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick’s estimation, the technology won’t likely transform the industry at all.
Zelnick shared his thoughts in a recent interview with Protocol, likening the technology to VR. He told the publication, “…there was all this hype for years about VR, and I wasn’t very compelled by that. Thankfully, as a result, we didn’t waste any money on it.” (It’s worth noting that L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files is something Take-Two invested in; the studio behind the project also claims it’s working on another VR game for Rockstar.)
According to Zelnick, this same level of excitement continues to boost discourse surrounding cloud gaming. In the interview, he argues that theories about the tech’s potential hardly make sense. For one, the idea that billions of PC and mobile owners are more likely to enjoy console gaming if consoles are removed from the equation isn’t sound.
There were some parties who were saying there are 130 [million] to 140 million current-gen consoles out there. There are billions of PCs out there. You know, if you can make in a frictionless way console video games available to everyone who has a PC or a tablet or a phone, then your market size automatically would be 20x just mathematically.
Of course that doesn’t make any sense at all. Because the implication is you are super interested in video games but you were just unwilling to buy a console. I mean, I’m sure there were people like that, but if they are so interested that they want to pay $60 or $70 for a front-line title, it’s hard for me to believe they were unwilling to spend $250 on a console to be able to do it ever in their life.
Zelnick later notes that not everyone is ready for cloud gaming, which further suggests the technology won’t be as transformative as most seem to think.
The second problem is you still have to get into the hands of the consumer. They’re beholden to whatever technology exists wherever they live. You may be out on the cloud, but if they’re on a phone line, they won’t be able to avail themselves of what you’re distributing.
So I suspect it will not be transformative. I’m speaking against my own interests, right? We’re supposed to paint this picture of nirvana; however, I just don’t think it’s nirvana. Nirvana is making great hits, and then people will find them.
Though the Take-Two CEO clearly isn’t cloud gaming’s biggest fan, the company did launch Red Dead Redemption 2 on Google Stadia. There’s no word on how well the title is performing on that particular platform, so perhaps such a release merely serves as a one time thing for now.