EA rejects cloud-only future for gaming

Discs not obsolete "any time soon".

EA has rejected the notion that we'll be playing all our games through 'cloud-based' services like OnLive in the near future, insisting that the traditional game disc has a long life left ahead of it.

Speaking to IndustryGamers about the possibility of cloud-only future, EA CEO John Riccitiello said, "Do I believe longer term that the disc will go away? Not any time soon. I think the disc can actually be a great starting point for a digital business, like an MMO, World of Warcraft, for instance.

Riccitiello went on to explain that he believed cloud gaming was not always the most practical way to deliver, or play, a game.

"We make services, we don't make products, and I think the challenge I would have in answering the question the way you framed it is I don't think people want a streaming game service. I think they want their games to work.

"At times, that will be delivered best with streaming. At times, you should just download the game," he continued.

"For example, I think it'd pretty silly for us to stream Scrabble to you. We're talking about three minutes, you've downloaded the words perfectly, you can play with your friends, the tiles move back and forth... why would you want to pay for bandwidth for us to redraw a Scrabble board 60 times a second? That's just sort of bad math, if nothing else."

The EA boss went on to explain he believed the most important thing for consumers is that a game is always playable, something that cloud-based services can't currently guarantee.

"The point, though, that I'm making is that sometimes you're not going to play because your internet connection is down and sometimes delivering a game by streaming is a really inefficient way to do it. I think the consumer, at least in my view, doesn't care what the technology is, what lives behind the veiled curtain; they just want it to work.

"I've yet to see - I haven't played OnLive recently - but I don't think you'd bring OnLive to a LAN party for first person shooters, because latency matters a lot in those circumstances. So, I think there's different technologies for different purposes, and the consumer wants it to be largely invisible."

Riccitiello isn't the only EA executive yet to be convinced by the OnLive micro-console. Last month CFO Eric Brown expressed concerns about both latency and price.

The OnLive device, which lets you remotely stream games to your TV from a 'cloud' server, went on sale in the US late last year, with a European launch planned for early 2011.

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