The problem with cloud gaming

Galactic Reign

Microsoft have announced that Galactic Reign, a Windows 8/Windows Phone turn-based space strategy game, will be removed from its respective stores after August 15th. The game will not be available for re-download after that date and the games servers will be switched off after December 31st.

Developed by Slant Six Games and published by Microsoft the game was only released in March this year and heavily relied on cloud-based servers to generate its movie-like combat sequences. Microsoft will not be refunding the cost of the game.

Galactic Reign was one of the stand out titles of app stores severely lacking in quality games despite Microsoft implementing the Xbox branding in Windows Phone and Windows 8 and it will be a bitter pill to swallow for the small audience who decided to back Microsoft’s fledgling app stores with their hard earned cash.

Galactic Reign

For those questioning the reasoning behind the decision to pull the plug this early, Microsoft gave the completely vague statement below.

“We continually explore new games and entertainment concepts.  Galactic Reign was a great cloud-based video rendering game exploration that we are going to bring to a close.”

For those familiar with Microsoft’s previous attempts at “new entertainment concepts” the above statement will read very similar to the reasoning given when Microsoft prematurely ended the 1vs100 free to play game for Xbox Live Gold members.

Of course, Microsoft killing a great concept early is nothing new, but the end of Galactic Reign does highlight the problem with the move to cloud gaming. As soon as it becomes uneconomical for developers/publishers to maintain the service, the servers will be shut down quicker than you can blink. EA have been doing it for years much to the chagrin of gamers worldwide, and in part resulted in the company being voted the worst in America two years in a row.

Galactic Reign

Additionally, the lack of support for Galactic Reign must surely raise questions over Microsoft’s initial strategy for the Xbox One. Before performing a 180 following consumer backlash, Microsoft planned to require a persistent connection for the console, with all games taking advantage of this feature. Many feared that this would mean at some point servers would be switched off and even single player games would simply cease to function. Microsoft did little to reassure consumers that their fears were unfounded and a hasty retreat was required.

Until server costs are drastically reduced and infrastructure is also significantly improved, cloud gaming is more problematic than useful. Gamers will also likely be resistant until they can be convinced that it is more beneficial rather than being a method to restrict them through DRM or other such policy. Examples such as Galactic Reign are also unlikely to win them over to the idea.

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