Cloud gaming is a hot topic right now, but Microsoft say they won’t be engaging with it for a long time, when they expect it to reach full potential.
Phil Spencer has said to news.com that “bandwidth issues” are currently keeping cloud gaming back. He did state that OnLive and Gaikai helping pave the way to the eventual distribution of all things digitally.
"Cloud is a huge opportunity," he said. "And someday, yes, someday. But if you look at the internet capabilities today, it's a challenge. Even, forget about games. If you said everybody was going to watch the Champions League Final concurrently via the internet at HD-level quality, the internet can't handle that. And that's just people watching a game. That doesn't include the level of interactivity of a game and a two-way pipe going back and forth.
"So there's just bandwidth issues in terms of metering and things that are out there. So I believe, yes, in the long run we'll land in a spot where there's cloud distribution of all content and Microsoft is clearly invested in that. I like the work that Gaikai does, I play games on Gaikai, and if I get the right bandwidth situation they're actually good experiences.
"But today it's not really up to scale. You're still going to be pushing boxes out to people's houses that they're going to plug into the TV. That's what they're going to use to play their AAA games. And I think that'll be the case for a while. But that's not trying to downplay what Gaikai is doing, because I think that it's great that they're investing in it."
It’s been predicted by many games journalists that Microsoft and Sony will include some kind of streaming ability in their forthcoming consoles, both rumored to be arriving some time late next year.
Pre E3 noise brought much rumor of a Gaikai deal with Sony that would enable PS2 and PS1 games to be streamed through the PS3 and/or the Vita, though Gaikai boss David Perry has emphatically denied truth in the rumor.
Sony was reported to have considered making the PS4 a digital only before changing their minds due to the varying, and often lacking, internet speeds around the globe.
Spencer confirmed that the next Xbox will indeed have a drive, stressing the importance of brick and mortar sales.
"I would say, and not just for PR reasons, that retail is very important to us," he said. "Retail distribution of games is going to be very important for years. When you go to a Midwest town, there are still people where retail is still the way they buy, even music. There are millions of people who still buy DVDs. And they're going to buy [retail] games and they're going to buy consoles."