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Pixie The Fairy avatar 6:13 PM on 02.16.2013  (server time)
PS4, Gaikai, 'Murica, greedy ISPs and the digital divide.

Note: Dunno why Destructoid's youtube BBC code isn't working, so I linked the videos in the body of the post, just above the pictures related to them.

So rumors are buzzing that Sony is using Gaikai for streaming PS3 games to the PS4. Seven years to think of a real solution for backward compatibility - like offering a model with BC and one without - and we're very likely getting a band-aid fix for those with highly disposable incomes.

I suppose its possible there could be something else involved, but given the Gaikai acquisition went down early last year and PS4 was in the works long before that, I think Gaikai is sticking to what it knows best - which is cloud streaming.

Why won't it work? Well, let's just start with Gabe Newell's DICE keynote this year @09:33 in this video, it ends @12:11, so you can stop there:

So that's the geek-speak regarding matter of cloud gaming. To put it in more basic terms for those unfamiliar - and I'm really just paraphrasing here - if you've played an FPS on a console or PC then you're playing a game through a kind of "smart" client. Either a host or a centralized server is piping all the ones and zeros back to you and your console sees the effects in action. If you're closer to said server or host, you have better ping times. If you're further away from a host or server you have more checkpoints to cross, so to speak, and that produces lag. That's before we even factor in your connection speed, which is another important part of all this.

Playing with a host in your state or region is more ideal than playing from a centralized server or host further away because you'll have a lower ping time. Cloud gaming reverses that and does all the heavy processing from a central location that streams a video version of that game out to you. Cloud gaming sounds nice on paper because it means you don't need the hardware to run the game in question - you don't even need the physical copy of the game - but that's before we think about latency. The video streaming that works for Netflix and Youtube doesn't really pan out for games.

Latency probably isn't a big deal for something like an RPG - your Skyrims and Ni No Kunis - but games like Bayonetta, Persona 4 Arena and Call of Duty: Black Ops II would be lose a great deal because they're so dependent on split-second reactions. In games where a millisecond means a win or a loss, cloud gaming is going to fail us harder than our connections already do.

And America's internet infrastructure and speeds are a JOKE. This Bill Moyers video on the digital divide might be long, political and not gaming-related, but you should watch it anyway because no matter where you are in America or Canada or what ISP you use, you are getting a bad deal.

Watch it when you have a half hour to spare and come back. I'll wait.

If you watched all that; you should be pissed now. We're all getting hosed when a kid in China is getting for $20 what some rich guy might pay hundreds more for in America and the rich guy still gets lousy service. Meanwhile the middle class and the poor are being gouged to use a rather critical resource with a similar lousy quality.

As Susan points out, we don't just need the internet for usual comforts, it has become critical to education, job searches and businesses. I happen to live in North Carolina and the service I'm using - Clearwire - just got gobbled up by Sprint to stay afloat in a market Time-Warner, Verizon and AT&T dominate. AT&T's cheapest "high speed" internet options always come with a cap, Verizon FiOs isn't available here even though Corning Cable produces the fiber optic cable in this very state. I temped there once, I've seen it made from start to finish, hundreds of miles of the stuff..

Little to none of it is used in North Carolina and it is made here. UGH.

When we look at Gaikai streaming, all it may entail and this inequality in service across America and Canada Sony is making a bet they are going to lose big on - and this in one of their most critical markets. Its really not a question of "if" because the way things are right now it has no chance of succeeding. Successful things like Steam and Netflix already struggle with ISPs regarding the caps on downloads and the speeds they impose.

This isn't good for gamers, its not good for anyone. Its not good for education, business or even people trying to find a job. People who haven't been out there think finding a job is still a matter of getting out there and shaking hands, but the application process is mostly online now. The internet is a resource and to monopolize and limit it as these ISPs have is irresponsible.

Cloud gaming may never really be the ideal solution - even if it sounded cool on paper - but so long as we let these ISPs rig the game we're all in for some shit regardless of platform or content delivery method. This is why you should get angry at the ISPs, stay angry, petition and call your representatives.

That and hang on to your PS3 if you want to play PS3 games. I have a feeling Sony's venture into cloud gaming with Gaikai may blow up in their faces.

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