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Take-Two CEO questions cloud gaming hype, claims tech won't be transformative

Take-Two CEO questions cloud gaming hype, claims tech won't be transformative

September 15, 2020 | By Chris Kerr

September 15, 2020 | By Chris Kerr
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There's always a Next Big Thing around the corner. Working in games means being treated to a smorgasbord of think pieces and hot takes reflecting on how that interchangeable piece of emerging technology will revolutionize the way we play -- altering the video game landscape forever. 

Right now, cloud gaming is occupying that esteemed position in the game industry consciousness, and for good reason. Huge companies like Microsoft and Google have thrown their weight behind the technology to launch their own cloud gaming platforms in the form of Google Stadia and Project xCloud -- the latter of which is a key piece of Microsoft's next-generation jigsaw

With both Stadia and Project xCloud the sell for consumers is clear: instantly play console quality titles on a swathe of compatible devices by streaming them straight from the cloud. What, though, is in it for developers and publishers?

According to Take-Two Interactive president and CEO, Strauss Zelnick, nothing worth shouting about. Adding his voice to the conversation in a recent interview with Protocol, Zelnick suggested some of the hype surrounding the technology is nonsensical, and specifically took issue with the argument that cloud gaming will instantly bring millions of new consumers into the fold by effectively transforming phones, tablets, and laptops into consoles. 

"That [argument] 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."

Carrying that thread, Zelnick suggested that cloud gaming won't necessarily revolutionize distribution either, largely because many consumers still don't have access to compatible technology. 

"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," he continued. 

"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."

You can hear more from Zelnick, including his thoughts on the subscription mode, by checking out the full Protocol interview.



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