Since the hyped-up launch and dramatic fall of OnLive, there has been significant debate over when the idea of streaming games from remote servers will move from niche services like PlayStation Now and Nvidia’s GeForce Now to a market-moving mainstream force.
Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick weighed in on that debate recently, saying he thinks a large-scale market for streaming games could “happen in one to three years.”
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia conference last week , Zelnick said the rise of streaming gaming was an inevitability that was just waiting on the technology to power it at scale. While Zelnick acknowledged that the streaming game servers “have to be pretty close to where the consumer is” to address latency issues, he said there are a few large-scale companies “that have hyperscale data centers all around the world,” and that infrastructure will be able to address that last remaining hurdle in a few years time.
Zelnick’s comments come a few months after Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot suggested that streaming games will completely replace consoles after one more generation . Guillemot suggested that changeover would cause a revolution in the gaming market, which will explode in size and accessibility thanks to cheap, streaming-capable boxes delivering big-budget hits.
Zelnick agreed that streaming will increase the size of the high-end, big-budget gaming market—because “you don’t need to buy a box in order to play our games”—but stopped short of expecting a massive revolution. Even if streaming boxes end up much cheaper than current consoles and PCs for the same experience, there may not be that many additional potential players who don’t currently have high-end gaming hardware.
“I can’t sit here and argue it will be a sea change in the business,” Zelnick said of future streaming game services. “I know one of our competitors has argued that, but my view is we should really talk about what we can control, which is making really great content.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Zelnick suggested that “the closed system walls are coming down” when it comes to cross-platform gameplay, despite Sony’s continuing reluctance to engage on the issue . “Eventually, I think we’ll be in a cross-platform world for a lot of titles. Certainly, between console and PC we will. Microsoft is basically already there…. Streaming is going to accelerate those walls coming down.”
“If you’re going to create rules that don’t benefit the consumers but somehow you think benefit your enterprise, you’re mistaken,” Zelnick continued in explaining why locking online players in a walled garden won’t last. “Consumers will go elsewhere. You have to pay attention to what the consumer wants.”