Perry predicts cloud gaming, the rise of free-to-play, and the death of single player games

This year’s DICE event which wraps up today in Las Vegas wouldn’t be complete without video games industry veteran David Perry’s take on the current state of play, and what he sees as ‘the next big thing’. We’ve covered some of Perry’s predictions in the past, but for those out there that don’t remember or know of David Perry, he’s the founder of Shiny Entertainment which was responsible for Earthworm Jim, and Messiah to name a few along with MDK, Wild 9 and Enter the Matrix.

Taking a page from his standard presentation playbook, Perry started out his DICE talk by showing some old marketing collateral from his first computer, the Sinclair ZX81, noting that at the time the mainstream consensus was that computers would be used solely as a productivity tool. “I, like everyone else, however, used it to make and play video games,” he said.

Looking forward, Perry notes how far and fast computing technology has progressed since its humble beginnings. Specifically, Perry speaks to increased storage space and read/write speeds. He foresees a future with unlimited storage media delivered via fast, ‘available everywhere’ wi-fi. Not limiting future options just to storage, Perry also predicts cloud processing, i.e. the end of in home owned single or multi-core processor platforms.

Driving this prediction, Perry explains that he’s been looking into technology that’s powered by remote storage and processing, thus removing the need for players to own powerful software or processing power. The end goal is to deliver the final rendered frames to gamers via Flash video.

“It’s like going back in time to when we had terminals instead of desktops.”

Speaking to distribution mediums, Perry didn’t waste any time aiming a canon at GameStop, who’s COO Dan DeMatteo recently stated that the era of full digital distribution is 12 to 17 years away. Perry’s thoughts consider this timeline ridiculous, and he’s quick to point out that much of the Asian market is largely dependent on digital distribution. And we all know how the Asian market is hurting in the video games department.

With perhaps his most startling statement of the day, Perry also sees the end of single-player games. Instead, he sees free-to-play, mulit-player online games as the absolute future, “I personally think the days of single-player games are numbered. Without question, our focus is entirely on multiplayer.”

Duly noted, Perry serves as Chief Creative Officer with Acclaim, a completely free-to-play, microtransactions based game developer/distributor, so it’s fair to say that his view might be slightly biased.

Using imagery of some of the greatest game designers of all time, Shigeru Miyamoto and Hideo Kojima, Perry notes that Japan has turned out some of the best games and designers the world has ever seen, and asks, “would you be willing to bet China will never produce one of those names?”

A highly relevant question, as David warns that if and when this level of talent starts popping up in China or Korea, both areas where free-to-play is rapidly becoming the de facto business model, traditional game developers with traditional business models may find themselves on the outside looking in.

Summing up his presentation, Perry says, “The key trend is that we are going to be closer to our audience than ever before. We must listen to them at every step. … Your entire executive team must speak with them, not to them.”

Amen to that statement Mr. Perry. Got anything to say to us? We’re listening. Talk to fatfoogoo on twitter.

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One Response to “Perry predicts cloud gaming, the rise of free-to-play, and the death of single player games”

  1. Alex Ferrara says:

    David makes some very good comments, but I disagree with the notion that we’re moving towards cloud processing. This is counter to Moore’s law; PCs, smart phones and other CE devices are rapidly becoming more powerful. It would be inefficient not to take advantage of those freely available compute cycles. The cloud should be used for managing state and for especially complex computational tasks. Moving back to a thin client architecture would not make much sense.

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