Video Game Conference Looks To Future

The future of the video game was on display at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Ricardo Torres, editor-in-chief of GameSpot.com, notes that a start-up company called OnLive plans to stream high-quality games directly to your TV.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

JACKI LYDEN, host:

The technology in The Force Trainer was also on display this week at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The GDC, as it's known, is a massive event that attracts gamers from all over the world and the companies that want to sell them the next generation of Zeldas, Marios and Grand Theft Autos.

It's big stuff. In 2008, the industry took in $21.3 billion in U.S. sales according to the research group NPD. That's about what Americans spent last year on DVD rentals and sales.

Ricardo Torres is the editor-in-chief of GameSpot, a website dedicated to games and gamers, and he covered the Game Developers Conference all week. And he joins us now from San Francisco. Hello, Ricardo Torres.

Mr. RICARDO TORRES (Editor-in-chief, GameSpot.com): Hello, Jacki.

LYDEN: There was one big bombshell announcement at the conference. Let's listen to Steve Perlman, the CEO of a startup company called OnLive.

Mr. STEVE PERLMAN (Chief Executive Officer, OnLive): This is an opportunity to really revolutionize the way we think about games, the way that publishers develop games and the way that consumers use games.

LYDEN: Well, that's pretty lofty language, even for a game developer. What is this new mystery device that was being rolled out, Ricardo Torres?

Mr. TORRES: It's going to take a second to wrap your head around it. Traditionally, people have thought about video games as something that you need to play on a dedicated console, right, like your Xbox 360, your PlayStation 3 or your Wii, and each one of those boxes has software that is specific to them.

So, what OnLive is is essentially almost like a universal box. It's a games-on-demand service, and you…

LYDEN: So you just click and play and it comes into your television set or your PC?

Mr. TORRES: Yeah, isn't that crazy? And you know, you can rent or buy. You're not going to have the clutter of a ton of consoles in your living room or a ton of software because everything's done digitally. And it definitely has the potential to completely change the natural order of things.

LYDEN: It sounds really good. Is there any kind of drawback that you can think of?

Mr. TORRES: You know, I think the biggest challenge, and I think people get this, you know, when you have your Internet, you have varying speeds, and depending on the type of connection you have, if a lot of people are on that connection, it slows down.

Well, this whole service is dependent on having a very fast Internet connection. I think the real challenge for them is going to be, if this service really does become popular, and everybody is hitting that service at the same time, are they going to be able to handle the load and to really give the performance that people are expecting.

LYDEN: The Game Developers Conference is also home to a big awards ceremony. It wouldn't be a conference if there wasn't one. Let's listen in to how it went this year.

Unidentified Man #6: And the award for Best Downloadable Game goes to World of Goo.

(Soundbite of applause)

LYDEN: I don't think I've seen World of Goo. It sounds pretty repulsive. I guess there's an interesting story behind that game.

Mr. TORRES: Well, it's a cute game, actually. It's probably the cutest goo you're ever going to see. But essentially, it's a puzzle game, and it's very simple. You just have to get these little blobs of goo into a vacuum.

It was developed by a game developer called 2D Boy, which is essentially three guys, and Nintendo approached them and asked if they would adapt that for the Wii.

They know what's good. And for it to get their stamp of approval and their endorsement was a really good thing for the Indie game scene in general because in the absence of big budgets and a ton of resources, everybody's just being really resourceful and kind of MacGyvering these really cool new things that a bigger publisher probably wouldn't think to try.

LYDEN: Well, are there a lot of MacGyvers out there this year? Are small independents taking on some of the big names?

Mr. TORRES: Absolutely. I think you want to think of the games industry like the movie industry. The game-buying public is always going to have that expectation for the blockbuster, right? Everybody's going to want their big summer movie.

And that's kind of the entertainment that the big three can provide. Those big games cost money and take a ton of time to create. In the interim, they're looking for new kinds of content. And more and more, we're starting to see the big developers reaching out to the Indie game scene.

LYDEN: Ricardo Torres is editor-in-chief of the gamers' website, GameSpot.com, and he joined me from San Francisco where the Game Developers Conference just wrapped up. Thanks a lot. It's been fun having you.

Mr. TORRES: Absolutely. Thanks very much.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.