I’ve been gaming so long, I don’t know when I’m not
This is the week of the Game Developers Conference (GDC). GDC has been going on since 1988 when Chris Crawford organized it. Even before that there was the GamePC Consortium started by Ken Nicholson in 1993 (who was at ATI at the time, and is now at GE Global Research).
I went to the first GamePC Consortium, and the last. Whereas the GDC conference is for developers, GamePC was trying to establish some standards and stability in the PC gaming industry. Their first proposal, almost a threat, was to develop a stable, open API— if Microsoft didn’t. Microsoft paid attention, and took all their ideas and came out with DirectX 1.0 in 1995, and Nvidia, reeling from a major setback at the time, was one of the first to adopt it.
The Game PC Consortium disbanded in 2008, and at that same time, the PC Gaming Alliance (now the Open Gaming Alliance, OGA) formed. Meanwhile in 1996, Crawford was kicked out of the GDC, and it was sold to Miller Freeman for $3 million. Miller Freeman merged into CMP in 1999, and then United Business Media (UBM) acquired CMP, and that’s who owns and runs GDC today.
The gaming industry is big. DFC said that software revenue in 2014 should be around $64 billion.
“As soon as you have a technology, someone tries to make a game out of it.”—Kathleen Maher 2007
The gaming hardware market was $67 billion in 2014, with the PC gaming hardware (and accessories) being the largest hunk of that.
There have been many interesting developments in the gaming industry; I trace the beginning to 1947 with the first chess game. Along the way we saw the introduction of stereo 3D, first in 1999, and then again ten years later when Nvidia tried to revive it. VR was introduced to gaming in the early 1990s, and then reintroduced by Oculus in 2012 and is the current darling of the concept.
Gaming has always taken advantage of the latest developments in technology, and that will likely never change. The latest developments prove the point.
The Android console
This year we count as the inauguration of the Android or micro-console. You could say it started in 2010 when OnLive announced their MicroConsole, although they abandoned it in 2012.
The Android-console-class product will allow you to play streaming games on your TV, using a conventional controller, just as you do with a traditional game console. The main difference is you will get the games from some company’s store— Amazon, Stream, OnLive, or Nvidia.
These games will be older classic games like Half Life and new roll-scroll and point-click games. As good as the Android devices are, they still can’t match the pure horsepower of a PC, or even a modern console, although there’s some debate about that. The ARM devotees are making comparisons of their SoCs to game consoles, and in the fine print saying PS1—that’s a long way from today’s consoles.
But marketing claims aside, the new Android consoles are going to usher in a great new gaming experience on TVs, and new price levels, and accessibility, all with the buddy-gaming and mass-gaming capabilities found on a PC or console. It will also bring more and new gamers into the industry.
However, not all Android consoles will be the same, and the device built primarily as an Internet TV (e.g., Amazon’s Fire or Google’s Chromecast) won’t have the fine-tuning for games that dedicated Android console machines will. In gaming, every millisecond is important, and the trick is to have as few of them as possible between the gamer and the game—that will be the big difference in machines.
Welcome to the future, let the games begin.