Google Stadia Controller

Above: Google Stadia Controller

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Shih: Obviously we see things like cloud streaming for games — Stadia, Xbox, PlayStation, and everyone else starting services. But in any kind of app development is very tricky, and games especially. Games have FPS requirements, physics, rendering, all these components. Even if you have 5G, it’s a very hard experience to pull off.

However, I think the trend is that we’re going to start to see devices that are basically clones, and then you’re starting to see a lot more improvement from a cloud infrastructure perspective. Things like 5G and the underlying platforms will get better. We’ll see that more on the app development side. We’re already starting to see that in gaming. You’ll start to see that with all kinds of mobile development.

MacLean: Every person on the planet, I believe, should love playing games. But they’re not going to love playing every game. There is no way that my 70-year-old aunt, who spends hours of every day playing mobile games, is going to enjoy a session with Dark Souls III. It’s not going to happen.

One of the things we have to be conscious of when we think about democratization of any type of technology service, are we creating a service that is accessible and approachable to consumers? Are we giving them a good experience? Are we giving them joy, entertainment, an emotional connection, and emotional resonance? A lot of the experiences we create, whether they’re games or other types of technology, are not accessible to a mass market.

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One of our challenges, when we think about democratization, which I’m sure is used in every investor pitch ever and is a great buzzword — are we really, truly solving customer problems? Are we making a great customer experience? Are we making somebody’s life better? I think that as an industry, we have a ways to go there.

The Obstacle Tower Challenge offers $100,000 in prizes.

Above: The Unity Obstacle Tower Challenge offered $100,000 in prizes for solving AI problems.

Image Credit: Unity

GamesBeat: Bebo was one of the first webmasters in the United States. You brought up, in our pre-call here, that you were interested in the decentralized web. I wonder why that is. Do you see computing technologies like decentralization as being the thing that will get you there? Why is that important to you?

White: I’d first like to make a comment as far as the client versus cloud. I’m definitely in favor of cloud in that sense. People brought up the idea about leveraging the capability of the clients that you have. I’m a firm believer in the concept of bringing your own device, and then allowing people to not have a diminished access to resources, but then being able to access those resources in a way that’s most familiar to them.

That’s part of democratization in that case. If a smartphone is what you have, for one reason or another, or if that’s what you prefer, for one reason or another, you shouldn’t be made to feel like a second-class citizen.

GamesBeat: So technology should evolve to a point where it doesn’t matter what you’re connecting with.

White: Just so long as you have access to the services that you want, in that case. In terms of your question about the decentralized web, basically the idea there is allowing people, users, to regain access to their own personal data. Which, unfortunately, due to the rapid evolution of the web, they’ve lost in some ways. Allowing them to not only have control over their data, but letting them do things like dictate the use and the monetization of their data, those kinds of things. There’s a lot of characteristics of decentralized systems that more closely support that.

There’s also, in this case — the web was originally a centralized system. That’s why we get 404s when something is not found. Wouldn’t it be nice, in a decentralized system, never to get a 404 again? Because the data is there. You’re not relying on the presence or the absence of a resource.

Shih: Blockchain has become a good example of a decentralized system.

White: Exactly. We’re going to talk about that tomorrow. You’re exactly right. But I think that’s a different issue. Blockchain is an example of a technology that could lead to a decentralized web. But I think you could certainly have all the characteristics of decentralized web without the adoption of something like blockchain.

Rehbock: It’s interesting that from a futurist standpoint, when you look at the panel here — AWS is the notion of accessibility of a server to anybody that needs one at any time, and ease of bringing it up. Five or 10 years ago, you had to be in the know to know who the rack space guys were and get a server up. Now, if you have an Amazon Prime account, you get AWS access. The bottom line is, AWS is access.

Dell, going back to the original Dell ads on the back cover of PC Magazine, was about accessibility of PCs to people. I used to order PCs for my company in Chicago from Michael Dell in his dorm room. The bottom line was, the notion of Dell fundamentally was accessibility to a builder of PCs so you didn’t have to be in the know yourself. And Unity is about accessibility of being creative around games. God knows, the internet period, just the accessibility of data.

The summary is that — we’re using democratization as the buzzword, but accessibility is what the future is all about.

Above: Our futurist panel at TIFCA.

Image Credit: TIFCA

MacLean: One of the things I get excited about in our own services is Sagemaker, which is the easiest-to-use machine learning service that we offer through AWS. What that means fundamentally is that at a 10-person game development shop, you can use machine learning to make your game better without having a PhD in data science or AI on your team. That’s the kind of accessibility that’s going to come with the next generation. It’s not just access to physical resources, or even the cloud. It becomes access to the services that we’re building on top of the cloud, like machine learning and AI.

The backbone of Alexa is available to any AWS customer. That’s amazing when you think about being able to create great customer experiences, because you have access to an amount of technology that was unimaginable 10 years ago.

White: I think there’s also some social responsibility in there, in the sense that — if somebody has the crazy notion that they’re going to do Bitcoin mining on AWS, they’re in for a big surprise, because it’s not going to be a good return on their investment. I think Amazon makes that perfectly clear as far as the limitations of their infrastructures.

MacLean: We make our user agreements clear and we help our customers to understand them.

GamesBeat: There’s this interesting theme of centralization and decentralization in computing technology, but there’s also the same sort of tug of war that happens in politics and industry. If you centralize an industry too much, you wind up with anti-trust cases. If you decentralize your politics, you get democracy. It feels like all of these things are intertwined in some way. The funny thing is that centralizing computing in a company like Amazon can actually decentralize an industry by giving indie game developers a chance to access technology.

White: My comment about that, in terms of decentralization — I think we’re not talking, for one thing, in terms of breaking up, as it were, the large — it has characteristics of a monopoly.