back to article Microsoft plugs Xbox One consoles into its cloud - what could go wrong?

Microsoft is wiring Windows Azure directly into its forthcoming Xbox One games console – giving game developers server-side processing and gamers the chance of cloud brownouts ruining their playtime. Microsoft has said from the start that Xbox will be tied into Azure, but on Tuesday John Bruno, a program manager for Xbox Live, …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
FAIL

Worst. Idea. Ever.

I have never bought into the whole cloud computing idea. It is just a whole load of fail waiting to happen, from cloud providers going bust to the NSA cherry-picking your data to being held hostage to vendor lock-in. Now by having chunks of your games being served up from some data center in the USA your going to get slapped with latency issues (sure, 20ms in America might be fine for yank gamers but 200ms for aussie or brit gamers is just the suck) And then how long will your game last? Publishers in the game space go bust all the time and with no one to pay the cloud bill gamers will be left to pick up the tab paying to play games they already own, then eventually they will all stop working a generation or two of console later when its no longer commercially viable to provide the cloudy side of the game any longer.

17
6
Anonymous Coward

Re: Worst. Idea. Ever.

Xbox Live is already based on Azure, so this is just more of the same.

It's not LAMP based like the mess that Sony previously got rooted and so is much more secure, and Xbox Live / Azure have both had a much better up time record than Sony's PSN - so whilst there is of course the possibility of downtime - it's historically been less of a risk on XBL than with PSN....

6
11
Anonymous Coward

Re: Worst. Idea. Ever.

You clearly have zero knowledge of how azure as a platform works. For starters the xbox stuff will be spread over multiple data centers and geographically replicated, i.e. UK connections routed to the west europe data center(s) current round trip to one of my servers on azure ~20ms (unsure of exact location), round trip to annother server (hosted by rackspace in slough) ~50ms. As other posters have commented MS are giving away dev reources to developers, so i doubt companies going bust will mean service dies, it will probably live as long as the game is sold in the store, or has appreciable numbers of people playing it i.e. > 1000 playing daily

4
9
Anonymous Coward

Re: Worst. Idea. Ever.

Ping times measured in fortnights?

2
1
Silver badge

Re: Ping times measured in fortnights?

Just to clarify, 20ms is 1.65343915 × 10^-8 fortnights

5
0

We already had console games this gen with hundreds of players, such as MAG for example with 256 players, and not a cloud in sight :)

6
1

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

Good.

Anything that will accelerate the death of the malware-infected, second-hand-is-bad-mmkay, catch-em-while-they're-young, region-locked, you-don't-actually-own-a-thing "AAA" games industry as we currently know it is fine by me. Just hurry up and die already, and someone make sure to grab a fucking big wooden stake and a mallet to be sure.

22
1

Re: Good.

"you-don't-actually-own-a-thing "AAA" games industry"

And you really think putting games in the 'cloud' is going to change that?

1
8
Silver badge

Re: Good.

And you really think putting games in the 'cloud' is going to change that?

No, but I am hoping that ISP balls-ups, home router problems and cloud outages add a few nails into the coffin of the current videogames industry.

10
2
Bronze badge

Re: Good.

Think of the wonderful possibilities you're missing out on! Today we have Day 1 DLC, season passes that don't cover all DLC or only a limited amount but tomorrow you cou..... actually I can't think of many ways it would be much worse. I'm sure a publisher will manage to make me see that I'm very wrong.

More and more I'm liking the idea of buying games six months or more after release. You get the game, most / all DLC and still pay less than the game at launch. All you get by purchasing games at launch with pre-orders is a bigger hole in your wallet.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Good.

"you-don't-actually-own-a-thing "AAA" games industry"

And you really think putting games in the 'cloud' is going to change that?

I think he thinks that if it keeps getting more bad, people will eventually stop putting up with it. It's a cute, naive position.

0
1
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Good.

They're helping. My crap Brighthouse "service" got me a nasty email from Bungie for "standbying" (disconnecting the cable when you're winning) and so HALO Reach was the last multiplayer game I played.

Then there was Microsoft renewing my gold membership, despite the fact that 1) my card had expired and 2) I had cancelled it. They're like "oh you're on the hook because you did this and that after cancelling it" and so I asked "well let's see what the FTC thinks of it?" and that ended that.

I'm now happily playing Kerbal Space Program and not missing a nanosecond of XBOX Live.

1
0

Re: Good.

Totally agree.

Hopefully Sony will do something less aggressive than MS and we'll see which way the public wants to go. Unless they bundle my console with a free fibre upgrade I won't have the bandwidth for half the stuff on offer!

0
0

I know the reg likes to put a negative spin on things but this one is a bit much.

What is actually being discussed is that all Xbox Live developers, including the indie developers get free access to dedicated servers, cloud saves and Xbox compute. Using Titan Fall as an example the Microsoft dedicated servers run the AI in multiplayer games as opposed to a XboxOne acting as a host or the workload being spread over multiple XboxOne consoles. Its aim is to bring stability and lower performance hits as its not relying on individual consumer network speeds.

This is of course optional and is not mandatory and the specific features discussed fo not tie into ownership and add to offline use but aren't necessary so if (when) it goes down you wont be prevented from playing your games.

We aren't talking SimCity or Diablo3 here, its simply dedicated servers, cloud saves and server side processing being made available for free to Xbox Live developers.

4
10
Silver badge

I hope so

I very much hope you are correct.

But, my take is that MS is are desperate to get everyone onto to the cloud - one way or another.

MS have shown that their strategy - across all segments and products - is to get people into a cloud-based subscription model. That obviously requires people be connected to the Internet all the time. Not a problem on PCs but there are still a LOT of people for whom gaming is a purely offline affair. Those people go to the store, buy a game and then play it. No subscriptions, no gold memberships, no DLC, no 'micropurchases', no rental movies, and definitely no horse armour.

Indeed, the requirement of pretty much every modern PC game to be connected to the Internet at some point (even if only for activation, though often at each load) is the primary reason why I have not bought a PC game since Dawn of War (the first one) and all my gaming is done on my X360 - save for the occasional bash at Civ3.

I think that what you are saying is reasonable but you can't KNOW that that is the extent of what they are planning. (Saving you being privy to such inside information, in which case please do spill!)

I like progress in the gaming industry, I just don't think that forcing solo gamers online is progress from the gamers' perspective. And while I hope that isn't where they are going, I have no faith that MS, or indeed any of the major labels, share my view.

The day I can no longer buy (off the shelf, with a single, easy cash payment) a video game and play it 100% offline, I will very literally stop buying games.

23
3

Re: I hope so

I'll have to go find the interviews but it was one of the big questions Eurogamer asked Microsoft just after E3 and they stated that it was there to enhance the experience but the game would still work without it. An example was Forza whereby if you weren't connected to the internet the game would use the AI routines from the disc whereas if you play it with an online connection that AI is replaced with the "Cloud" AI that learns from all the other connected players.

The extent of the benefits were likely inflated by PR but they are distancing themselves from the SimCity and Diablo3 debacles.

2
6
Anonymous Coward

"This is of course optional and is not mandatory"

But do you have to use it? :P

4
0

Its up to you, your choice, your preference, as you see fit ;-)

0
2

Re: I hope so

The day I can no longer buy (off the shelf, with a single, easy cash payment) a video game and play it 100% offline, I will very literally stop buying games.

This. 1000 times this.

I don't play online myself, but following the unfolding debacle of GTA Online has been just the latest reminder of the reality of the Magic Cloud That Will Do Everything.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

don't see anything here

That the ps4 (or in many cases, the PS3) is already doing....cloud saves and cross platform play are already therps3n ps3 and the cloud computing white elephant could easily be plugged in with added server infrastructure, no console changes needed.

Guessing this is more Microsoft vaporware xbone talk about features coming one day to some regions of you are lucky and prepared to pay for it behind their Xbox live paywall

4
7

Re: don't see anything here

PS4 fanboy much? Cloud saves were launched on the PS3 behind the PSN+ "paywall" and multiplayer n the PS4 is behind the PSN+ paywall. Lets not get started on what the PS4 cant do on release date.

If you are going to make a comparison you should make sure the item you are favouring is not as guilty as the item you are denouncing.

5
10
Anonymous Coward

Access to free servers. Better read that EULA as I'm sure it gives Microsoft the right to change that term in the future to something that is no longer free. Even if they keep it free, the user is the one paying for it.

7
2

That's what Microsoft said, its free for devs, not consumers. Its paid for by the Xbox Live subscription.

2
6

As far as im aware have PC devs not been able to do this already....for years?

Why such a big fuss for stuff that has been held back from consoles and should have been there years ago. The devs are getting dedicated servers essentially, and this is nothing new to any gamer that has played more than call of duty: super ops on the xbox or playstation.

1
1

The fuss is that Microsoft is providing dedicated servers to the devs as part of the platform not that they are providing dedicated servers.

Both the Xbox360 and PS3 can use dedicated servers like the PC as you noted but the bill had to be footed by the dev/publisher meaning most of the smaller publishers and indies couldn't afford to supply this and therefore relied on the platforms peer to peer hosting. Its the same on PC, you can get dedicated servers but none of the platforms such as Steam or Origin provide them to all devs/publishers at no additional fee though I may be wrong.

That means ALL Xbox Live games have access to dedicated servers just by being an Xbox Live title.

5
3
Anonymous Coward

PS3 exclusives are nearly always dedicated servers.

As that's give the best lag-free setups. (Xbox Live P2P setup is cheap to run, but slows to the slowest connected player).

This is why I rarely play multiplatform games online, as they suck because even the PS3 versions have been gimped by the el-cheapo Xbox Live networking code.

4
2

Re: PS3 exclusives are nearly always dedicated servers.

Thats nothing to do with Xbox Live, PSN is a peer-to-peer network by default just like Xbox Live. If a game uses dedicated servers, regardless of what platform its on, the game developer and/or publisher themselves are paying for them, not the platform holder.

Also the peer to peer system used by Xbox Live uses a hosting system, the game performance is based on the host's connection not the slowest connected player.

1
0
Silver badge

"it smacks of a stealthy anti-piracy feature that could blow up in Microsoft's face"

Bullshit.

Sorry El Reg but you have absolutely no clue what you're whining about this time.

First, let's take the issue of piracy on consoles at all. Is there much of it? Short answer - no, not unless you wish to chop your console and lose all online/multiplayer modes anyway. Given that this is the case, what difference does it make whether some processing is optionally done over the network since you'll never be able to get on the network anyway?

Secondly, how exactly does providing AI as a service in order to take the load off the console itself restrict piracy in any way?

In short, dear author, I hope that nasty facial bruise from where your knee jerked so hard clears up soon.

3
12
Silver badge

Re: "it smacks of a stealthy anti-piracy feature that could blow up in Microsoft's face"

Nine ah ah ah! Nine Sony Fanboys! Ah Ah Ah!

0
2
naw

Super Computer?

Be interesting to see how this permanently connected network of Xbox millions of nodes with shared server side / offline processing might play into grid / super computing... ...all sorts of modelling, research and simulation possibilities.

1
0
Alien

Re: Super Computer?

Run SETI@HOME while shooting aliens on-line for an irony achievement?

7
0

Pointless Everyone getting PS3s

Everyone I know is buying a PS3 once there xbox 360 number "N" goes tits up. We used to be a 4 xbox house and we are now down to ONE. While our PS3 numbers have went from 0 to 2. We just got fed up with the Xbox 360s breaking every 18mths and getting replaced.

I know not anyone who is getting a XBox One; they have well and truly burned there bridges with most users and that includes me, mates and everyone else I know.

I don't know or can find a single person is gettign an Xbox One.

Likely sales will be very poor and MS will slash the price and they might start shifting.

5
3
Silver badge

Re: Pointless Everyone getting PS3s

Yeah, your anecdotal unverified evidence must mean Microsoft are doomed.

Enjoy your Sony rootkits.

2
3

Re: Pointless Everyone getting PS3s

No they are not doomed this will be just another speed bump, but I've asked a lot of people who already have consoles and they are not happy with them at all.

I think the Xbox one launch will be a damp squib, Sony are far from perfect but given a choice I picked Sony.

1
0

Re: Pointless Everyone getting PS3s

With the delays to 2014 for Watchdogs and Drive Club (the first PSN+ title) as well as no European date for the Gaikai service there are people cancelling their pre-orders (if you believe forums of course).

Quite frankly I'm amazed anyone who preordered a PS4 or XboxOne has kept that pre-order. The shipped consoles are lacking a lot of the advertised features, aren't launching with all the games advertised and people are paying RRP for it? Just wait a few months until all the features are up and running, there is a decent catalogue of game and in the mean time buy some quality current generation games like GTAV.

1
0
Silver badge

"Bearing in mind the cockups that have and do happen with [the cloud] . . ."

Bearing in mind the absolute intolerance that gamers show for anything that even remotely ressembles an impediment to getting their game on, I'm quite sure that Microsoft is going to learn a lot in several key areas (reliability, throughput, dictionary extensions, biological enhancements and sexual positions) when this system is put into production.

4
2

This post has been deleted by its author

Alert

If Apple had done this....

It would be so inspired. There wouldn't be any talk of it falling over, just how wonderful the service was and how much life is better because of it.

Register, you report Microsoft stories like the Daily Express reports the weather.

1
9

But will gam devs use it?

This cloud computing stuff for gaming sounds very interesting but the advantage that console games have over PC as everyone one knows, is the every console is the same and they can tweak it to get the most from the hardware.

Internet connections vary massively, a game dev can't be sure that offloading the work to cloud will work the same on every console so I don't see how it'll be taken up.

I suppose they could introduce a minimum requirement for the internet connection but that will start dividing the install base which is usually the last thing console devs want to do.

1
0

Re: But will gam devs use it?

The article does explicitly say that its for non-latency sensitive elements. Back in my school days I wrote a turn based tactical squad game on the *cough* Archimedes

it wasn't brilliant and the AI for the bad guys was incredibly basic, but at the time I remember having to run a loop that repeatedly polled for mouse movement/clicks. Because of the low power of the systems in those days I wrote the AI to sequence its planning in small chunks and processed one chunk each cycle of the UI loop (which had the nice side effect that if you moved quickly most of the bad guys would simply repeat their prior actions).

Abstract this up and I can imagine having a local basic tactical AI, but with a cloud based strategic AI backing it up. The local system could handle basic tasks such as target selection, choice of cover and advance/retreat type options - the strategic AI could look at flanking, co-ordinated cover fire, moving units to elevated positions, etc...

Technically the system could send out one packet of current locations and waits for strategic input from the cloud - which can happily take 3-5 seconds to return it because its operating at a higher level and in while its waiting the local tactical AI is still doing a reasonable job of the second by second tactics. Hey presto, cloud based service improves the game, but an outage it doesn't prevent it from running in a basic sense.

I'm not saying this is what would happen, but its one way I could imagine it being used.

2
0

Possibly asked already by another bod... what happens when the game gets old?

The one thing I absolutely detest about all these games with heavy dependancy on network services is will I still be able to play it in years to come with the publisher has lost interest in running it?

I quite enjoy the occasional nostalgia cracking open an old game can be. I don't want to build a collection of games that will suddenly be worthless empty containers in years to come because their dependant services are gone.

3
0
Silver badge

Bah!

Skull-Fist-LightningBolt-MushroomCloud the cloud! Reject this World Wide Mainframe tech and lets get back to the game purity of running Tetris on a NES.

Anyone up for Arkanoid? I've got a pristine copy *with* the paddle controller.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

I want to know-- What happens when something goes wrong?

A gamer's cloud gaming profile gets corrupted... Who do they call? Will anyone answer? That's what I want to know. In the case of Ubisoft the answer is PFO- Please F*ck Off!

There are certain Reg readers that say: 'I don't care about DRM, it doesn't affect me'.. Well please take note of my experience with Ubisoft DRM and Driver-San Francisco as cloud gaming is already upon us! I've had to replay the game from scratch over a half a dozen times to earn back my hard-earned multiplayer rank. Every few months Gamer Profiles on their servers become corrupt, or the license is revoked for inexplicable reasons.

Consider this.. Ubisoft support have no access to gamer profiles. They have no troubleshooting abilities and no way of escalating problems. They claim, if you can believe this, that the reason they don't, is for security!!! So be advised that future Cloud based games may have similar gotchas!

What's the use of wasting hundreds of precious hours on a game only to encounter this fiasco? Being issued a new DRM license also trashes local offline progress, so you can forget about that too... This is what we're up against folks, its the new brave new world of the Trusted Computing like DRM model. You don't own your profile. You can't fix it if there's a problem. Your only recourse?... Start over! ... (That is until they flick the switch for good)

5
0
Silver badge

Re: I want to know-- What happens when something goes wrong?

Even as high a profile gamer as Gavin Free at Rooster Teeth can't get his original XBL account fixed. It's got the authorization phone number set to a dead UK cellphone (he's in the US now) and XBL support told him to suck it up and create a new account.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

FIAT (fix it again tomrrow).

'Yes we know our latest greatest game is buggy but we're actively working on a fix in the Cloud'

Online gaming is over-hyped! Network LAG, controller LAG are huge problems. I'd like to more features devoted to offline social gaming with pals in the living room. More split-screen. More user maps! Its not fun playing online against anonymous strangers with sociopathic trolling tendencies when your broadband is slower!

By all means early adopters enjoy your purchases. You've just helped subsidize gamers in South Korea on fibre connections, who'll be ones to reap the real benefits! But wait we all paid the same for the box! Cloud gaming will be an almighty excuse for mega-crops to ship early and bank their profits too...

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Sure the 10 people that pre-ordered Xbone

must be over the moon with this non-news.

1
1
Gold badge

What it'll be used for...

Here's what I see this REALLY being used for:

1) More ubiquitous in-game ads... "cloud updated"

2) Storing your scores and save games, if you want.

That is all! Honestly, what could be computationally intensive enough to not run on the XBox One, but not cost a fortune to run "in the cloud"? (Yes, I saw the word "free" in the article -- but I seriously doubt Microsoft would give away so much storage & CPU time *per game user* to exceed what the XBox One already has. Buying some significant amount of processing time for 1 user is peanuts -- buying it for 100,000 or 1,000,000 simultaneous game users will add up fast.

4
0

It's been working so well for GTA:online

oh..wait!

Presumably MS have been watching the literal cluster f*ck that GTA: Online has been. they have monitored the ruined forums containing nothing but "My [insert virtual property of choice here] has gone!" and thought, hmmm yes! this is the gaming experience we want everyone to have!

0
1
Bronze badge

Okay Microsoft!

I know it's hard, but please - for the sake of those people getting an xbone - try not to screw this up by making it more "engaging" than it has to be!

Game Developers!

This might also be a difficult thing to grasp, but if you could go ahead and ensure that any games you develop with this in mind, is also able to be played without this service - that'd be great! And I do not just mean that SP will work, but MP too. If your game is really that great, then we will surely want to play it years from now when server support has died down. And if your goal isn't to make a game that great, then fuck off!

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums