Roundtable Discussion Hosted by Jacob Navok, CEO of Genvid Technologies
Anna Sweet: Former executive with Oculus and Valve; Genvid advisor (AS)
Jacob Navok: CEO of Genvid (JN)
Jt Gleason: Former head of developer relations at Twitch; Genvid advisor (JG)
Yoichi Wada: Former CEO of Square Enix; Genvid advisor (YW)
Matthew Ball: Investor; Genvid advisor (MB)
Chris Cataldi: COO, Genvid (CC)
Jacob Navok (JN): Thank you all for joining me. I’m really excited to have everybody here. This is the first Genvid advisory board roundtable. Tonight, we’re going to be talking about the future of gaming, cloud streaming, and online video games and the Metaverse. We’ve been taking in peoples’ questions from Twitter, so we’ll be asking a mix of our own questions for the advisory panel and questions that we received from the audience. We’ll start with a round of introductions; I’ll introduce myself – my name is Jacob Navok and I am CEO at Genvid Technologies, and next – our panelists. We’ll start with Yoichi Wada and let him introduce himself.
Chris Cataldi translating for Yoichi Wada (YW): I will translate for Wada-san. He introduced himself as Yoichi Wada, the former CEO of Square Enix. He’s experienced a myriad of game platforms from consoles, arcades, smart phones, and PCs, as well as all different kinds of businesses, including cloud gaming, serious gaming, and in many ways, over his career, he’s tried to create the Metaverse. What he’ll be talking about today isn’t just figments of his imagination, but actual product and a lot of the battle scars that he’s accumulated over the years. He looks forward to the discussion.
JN: Thank you very much Wada-san. Next up, I would love for Anna to introduce herself.
Anna Sweet (AS): Sure, I’m Anna Sweet. I spent several years leading business and product at Valve for Steam, which was a really fun time. I was there from very, very early, so I got to see the shift from physical distribution to digital distribution as well as the growth of the Steam platform and all of the changes to gaming that came along with it. The last thing I did at Valve was to help ship the HTC Vive and then went on to Oculus to ship the first generation of content for the Rift, which was another really interesting and exciting shift in how we think about games and platforms. I now work at a game startup, so I’m closer to game development than I’ve ever been, and I advise a number of venture companies on investing in gaming.
JN: Thank you very much. We’ll move down the list to Jt.
Jt Gleason (JG): Hi, my name is Jt Gleason. I worked at Twitch for eight years in many roles from a software engineer to the director of platform growth, all the way up to the head of the developer relations effort, working on all of the technologies that Twitch had dealing with interactive livestreaming, and pushing that future forward. I’m happy to be here and have this discussion with you all.
JN: Thank you so much Jt. And then last but not least, Matthew Ball.
Matthew Ball (MB): I’m Matthew Ball, I’m a venture investor. I also spend a great deal of my time advising startups and corporations predominantly in the media and interactive space. I’m really happy to be here and excited to talk about the topic.
JN: We’ll let Chris also introduce himself since he’s joining to help us with Wada-san’s translation.
Chris Cataldi (CC): Sure, I’m Chris Cataldi, COO and co-founder of Genvid. I’ve worked with Wada-san and Jacob in the past, and since my opinions are outspoken, today I’ll be participating as Wada-san’s translator.
JN: Thank you. We’re going to start with a series of questions that we agreed upon internally before opening it up to the questions from Twitter. The first one that we have for the panel is: Last year we saw the “promise” of cloud gaming break open with the announcement of Stadia Xcloud, but it doesn’t look like it’s moving the needle much in 2020. Yesterday, we saw that Stadia was going to make its Stadia Pro feature set available for free for the next few months for anybody with a Gmail address. Do we think that this is going to change or improve the situation? Why? And to start, we’ll throw this over to Wada-san who worked with me for many years on cloud gaming and has pretty strong insight.
YW: Simply taking the feature set of PC or console from local, putting it on a server and streaming— that is not going to really make much of a difference, or add any value. It doesn’t matter how prevalent 5G becomes; solving bandwidth issues, just moving the feature set [of a game] over to the cloud really won’t make much of a contribution. At GDC [last year], they did seem to preview some new and innovative features like being able to jump directly into a game from a viewer perspective, and other features. But since then, we’ve not really seen much new that rocks the boat. And when it comes to their catalog, including the lack of any serious announcements or announcements about Triple A porting, it doesn’t look like we can expect too much from them at this time.
One of the things we need to be really aware of is the unique ability of cloud gaming to bring individual users together in an online environment. What I mean by this is the following: instead of the current paradigm where each person has their own local client (e.g. a game console or gaming PC) at home–and the server is sending data between those local clients, the cloud offers the opportunity for everyone to be connected to a big, virtual client. As a result, new features, or new experiences can emerge. Until we get the kind of unique cloud feature set [for games] that this offers, we’re not going to really break through.
JN: So I noticed you nodding a bit, Jt. I want to get your impressions on that same question about where cloud gaming is going and not going.
JG: If you look at what the physical benefits are of a system that is rendering something locally versus something that can be rendered globally—locally you have a very fast responsive time, just due to the general zone you happen to be in, so things that need to be super precise need to live there. But what you have inside of the gaming cloud is basically unlimited computational resources. When we see a game that requires that entire space being rendered and the interactions between them being rendered in a way that couldn’t be represented locally by one CPU, or a chunk of CPUs that we put together and decided to call one CPU for this cycle, I think that’s really where you’ll see the next level of game come out.
For example, I always go back to these zone instances, a problem that all MMO’s have: you get into a zone, too many people get into a zone, zone falls over, nobody can play together. That limits the types of cities that you can actually have inside of an MMO. But if you were rendering in the cloud, everybody could be living and existing inside of that one same city, and that’s due entirely to the computational resources that are out there, that you can stream into your device. Then the game developers really start to utilize that, and that’s where I think you’ll see “Oh, I have to have [the cloud],” because that’s an experience I can’t create locally.
JN: I completely agree. One of the problematic things that we’ve seen for cloud gaming today is that the business model and the content publishing rights are incredibly complicated. Anna, when you were at Valve and working on Steam, you experienced a lot of that. I remember some of our discussions as Steam started supporting subscriptions and what that was going to be like for the Final Fantasy XIV team back in the day when we were negotiating that with you. What do you think some of the challenges are for these platforms, working on business models, dealing with publishers, and trying to figure out where to go next with content?
AS: The platform shouldn’t necessarily dictate the business model. Business models are best for customers and best for developers when they best match the game. So I worry a little bit when we think about a future where it’s just a subscription that’s dictated to developers. I think if you’re not a game like Fortnight or PUBG that eats up a lot of peoples’ time, it’s hard to be economically viable in a subscription model, and there’s lots of beautiful, wonderful indie games that take six hours to play, but would have a hard time making money in a subscription-only world. It’s important to give game developers the space to match their business model to their game – sometimes it’s premium, sometimes it’s free to play, sometimes it’s season passes. Maybe in cloud gaming it’s something that we haven’t even seen yet. I spent a lot of time at Valve working on Team Fortress 2 hats, and Counter-Strike skins, and game developers get really creative when given the freedom to explore and try new things. My hope is that with any new platform, developers have that flexibility around their business model.
JN: Thank you. So, Matt, you’ve done a lot of writing on cloud gaming recently, and commented about it a bunch on Twitter, too. Do you have any thoughts that you want to add, or opposing viewpoints that you want to share?
MB: Overall, you can take a look at three different reasons to answer the question of why cloud gaming hasn’t taken off. One could be the experience, which is offering something that is unique, different, and much better than you can get today. As I think Wada-san and Jt have addressed, we have yet to see real content-based differentiation. As that comes, and it’s truly unique, you might see it take off, but until then, it’s not as compelling an offering to those who do gaming today.
You can also look at the cost argument. Many have argued that the cost of cloud gaming, especially when you no longer need to make a $200 to $600 upfront console purchase, can expand the market. And yet, we’re at the end of a cycle where there are more consoles in more homes than ever before. The average cost is lower than it’s ever been before. And even though we can look at how many people have purchased consoles, the number of people who have access to consoles is multiples more than that. If you have a console, but your wife doesn’t game, she still has access to a console. And so even the idea that this is reducing the entry level cost is not as compelling yet.
Then on top of that, when you take a look at the actual pricing models, you still need to purchase a $70 controller from Google, you have to purchase a $70 Google Chromecast Ultra, then you need to pay $15 per month, and then purchase games.
So, as of yet, it’s not clear that the cost advantage is quite there, and that’s before dealing with issues such as the amount of broadband capacity you need to purchase.
Then you can take a look at the idea of portability. It’s not clear that the ability to play Triple-A games on-the-go is going to drive a long-term Xbox customer or PlayStation customer to adopt Google Stadia, especially when it has fewer games today. And indeed, on top of that, Microsoft will launch its own cloud offering next year. PlayStation has had its own equivalent in the marketplace, and so in fact, you can do many of the things that Google is offering today, but with a larger catalog on the consoles. And Microsoft actually allows you, and Sony does as well, to play those games for free if you’ve purchased their hardware and the software previously.
So the last thing you could say is that despite those three things, why might Stadia not have lit up so far? The simplest answer is that it won’t until they have something new, the cost is dramatically different, or the use case is different. The biggest answer would be that someone gets a new platform because it has truly unique, differentiated games. It may not be cloud-specific; it could just be a traditional game that’s only on Stadia, but as yet, they don’t have that. If they had their version of Halo, that might not justify cloud-based gaming, but that would drive people to buy Stadia. They don’t have that either.
JN: Thank you. So, playing off this for a moment, when we saw the initial reveals of Stadia and some of the other cloud gaming initiatives, one of the things that got people very excited were the opportunities around not just playing a game, but watching and interacting with it.
Twitch has been pushing on extensions for years now. It’s been long in the making as Jt well knows. And in fact, some of the earliest showcases of this started on platforms like Twitch with Twitch Plays Pokemon. We’ve seen the Chinese streaming platforms push heavily into monetization models, so what does the future for interactive streaming look like? Putting aside playing with games over cloud gaming; for people who are watching and want to interact with content, where does that go? Is it about low latency? Is it about deeper game integrations?
We’ve been thinking a lot about what this looks like to create content where lots of people interact together. Is that coming now, or later? I’ll throw this over to Wada-san and get his thinking. Then we’ll open it up to the rest of the panel.
YW: This subject has obviously been debated a lot within Genvid. One of the things I want to focus on is the kind of tailwind that the current situation (coronavirus) is doing to the sector. The byproduct of this is whether you’re an experienced player or not, the amount of time you have to consume this content, or be in front of a screen to play and livestream games, has definitely increased. This has created an impetus for people to train themselves and become more adept with the medium.
For example, take the type of video conferencing that we’re all using right now that everyone has pretty much learned how to use in the last month, even those who had never used it before. One of the peculiarities of video conferencing is not just the audio and the video, but also the chat, on the right-hand side of the video. The chat feature is something that’s been around for a while, but it didn’t really gain a lot of attention – not everyone used it before.
This has created an opportunity for users and the audience as well to kind of self-train, and learn how to interface with the video that they’re watching, deepen their engagement with it, and become more proactive. And because of that, they have a higher competency and we can utilize that higher competency when we provide them with some of the new experiences that we’re working on. Until now, we always had to worry about the fact that they may not have the competency to do it. Today, we can be confident that they have that ability to do so.
JN: Thank you very much. One of the things that’s interesting about asking this question on the streaming platforms and where interactivity goes is that all the rest of our advisors here have their own unique experiences—Anna at Caffeine, Jt at Twitch, and Matt at Amazon Prime Video, too. So, starting with Anna, one of the focuses that they had at Caffeine as well as a lot of the game streaming platforms in general has been reducing latency and focusing on those communication aspects. How do you think that improves or changes as we go through the next year or two?
AS: I think we’re all getting a lot more comfortable having conversations across a video screen with our friends and on streaming platforms watching the entertaining people we love. At Caffeine, we spent a lot of time thinking about latency to facilitate that back-and-forth communication and to feel like you had a deeper connection with the person you’re watching. It also allowed for the audience to all be in sync, and so the audience was having a conversation and experiencing things together. That’s important when you’re thinking about a bunch of people doing something that’s interactive online.
We want to all feel like we’re together; we want to have a social connection—being in sync and having that experience together is important. But the deeper it gets into the game, the better because then we feel not only are we spending time together, but we’re actually interacting, engaging, and playing something as a group. That’s a really compelling social experience now that we’ve all spent so much time on video screens.
JN: Thank you. So on that note, I’ll bring it over to Jt, too, because he spent a lot of time thinking about how to create interactivity in games at Twitch.
JG: I like the idea that we’re in this space together, remotely and digitally. There is a difference between where you are, what you see, and what I see with respect to latency, so it is important. But ultimately, when taking it back to the original question on livestreaming, simultaneous actions en masse are actually difficult, right? So, what’s good for game developers is to actually start thinking about that, and thinking about what the design constraints are that they have based it on. There will be some latency, but consider using that in the way that a poet uses iambic pentameter, or a rhyming scheme in order to generate creativity out of it.
I think we’ll actually see more creative games pop out of that, like what you were talking about Twitch Plays Pokemon. It shows that mass groups can interact and create super complex outcomes if you design a set of systems that allow for that.
There has to be some sort of the input schematic that actually would make that possible, so game designers should be focusing and thinking on what that is — what are those types of interactions that would allow the sort of interesting and novel outcomes that are important there.
And then, if we’re talking about livestreaming en masse to people, then you have to start thinking about the people mechanics behind these types of gameplay experiences. If your game is based on popularity, and the world’s biggest livestreamer celebrity comes into your game, does that make them the most powerful person in your game by default? Is that what you want out of your game? Are there ways of maybe breaking up their viewership and the people that interact with them in order to diffuse that and spread that out across the game? That’s another important design constraint that I think game developers should be thinking about when they’re driving towards this future.
And, finally, some games work in smaller groups, some in medium, and some in larger groups. For any streaming platform, you’re going to have group dynamics — smaller groups of people, like us in the Zoom chat, or you might have a medium group of people, a few hundred people, or you might have ten thousand people. How does your game interact with all of those pieces? As an example of that, it makes me think of Jackbox games, which have a very good local play group, where you’re together, and it’s like a Zoom call. A few people are playing with each other, but then they also receive external audience inputs and inject that into the game as well.
That’s an example of how you can think about the social interactions. That said, there are unlimited possibilities of space in there, if you just think about the design constraints properly and use it like a poet would use rhyme to actually create something completely new.
JN: Thank you. If we think about Matthew Ball’s trajectory of the last few years, he started looking at content strategy, non-interactive at Amazon Prime Video, and steadily became more focused and interested in interactivity—exactly what Jt, Anna and Wada-san were speaking about. So, all of these questions on where interactive livestreaming is going seem to be right within your core thesis. Where do you think this goes in the future, Matt?
MB: The easiest way to think about this is with reference to what’s happened over the past 12 or 15 years in traditional media. We have continually gone away from two different things. One is live content experiences, and the second is shared or communal experiences. Those two things have essentially dominated every millennia of human existence up until maybe the last 50 years when we started really getting into television. Then, at the point where we got into on-demand television, we departed from it almost entirely, at least for many of the major cultural moments.
And yet the durability of that appeal over millennia is not just a reflection of technological constraints, it’s a reflection of fundamental consumer preferences and experience. There are a number of different ways to look at that, one of which is when you go into a movie theater to watch a comedy, you laugh considerably more than when you watch a comedy at home with your partner. And when you watch a comedy at home by yourself, you rarely laugh at all.
All of the sports fans in the world will spend hundreds of hours per year watching this content, but very, very few of them will watch any of that non-live. There’s something about the suspense, about the knowability that’s outside of the moment that erodes that experience. There are countless examples that show how powerful that is, and yet what we’ve seen over the past 12 or 15 years is that society is moving away from it.
That’s a reflection of the fact that traditional recorded media did not have a good reinvented version of itself for what was possible in the digital era. All of sudden when you didn’t have to watch Grey’s Anatomy at 9pm, you chose not to. And yet, even when you take a look at the shows that have survived and still did well over many years – The Bachelorette, Survivor, American Idol – that’s because they still graft very strongly to that social experience of the live suspense moment.
So, if you take a step back, you ask “what is capable of not just reproducing that sensibility, but really bringing it up to brand new and different things” — that’s the overall idea. Games more than any other medium can be two directional and live, as well as truly unscripted in a way that nothing else can.
We’ve always thought about it like this: you can participate by cheering when someone scores a goal by yelling something at Jeopardy, or participate by giving a call-in on American Idol, and maybe you have an impact a day later, but the formats we’re starting to see in interactivity, in video gaming, in interactive streaming, means that you can – live – to enormous degrees, have a personal, individual, knowable, identifiable, consequential impact on that content.
Nothing could be more exciting, not just because we know it’s very human, but because we know that really matters to humans. And that’s what makes this category intriguing and, in part, the reason why there are so many diverse opinions; no one really knows what that content format looks like. To anyone from a strategic perspective, going after a problem where you haven’t a clue what the answer is, is the most fun you can have.
JN: Thank you. Moving on to the next question. One of the hot topics in the interactive entertainment industry of the last year has been the Metaverse, and thinking about where all of this interactivity, gaming, and livestreaming is going.
In 2018 and 2019, we thought we had a general sense of what that was going to look like, and then starting a few weeks ago, the world changed drastically with the spread of the coronavirus.
Right before this gathering, I was speaking with the CEO of a very large game studio and he said 2020 is going to look very different when we look back on it, where gaming was before and where it’s going afterward.
So if we take our crystal ball and skip to the end of 2020, are we closer to the Metaverse? Further away? Has the definition changed? That’s the next question for the panel to jump into. We’ll again start with Wada-san’s perspective on the Metaverse and the future.
WY: In one way or another, we’ll see the first steps towards Metaverse and Metaverse-compatible business models this year, but I don’t think you’ll see too much progress, and there are a couple of reasons for that.
First, one of the things that I associate with Metaverse is the idea of a theme park, which still hasn’t really been discussed a lot: what it means to be a theme park, what the components of a theme park are, and that whole definition. So if we think of a theme park as just an assortment or group of games or group of attractions – amusement attractions – that’s not really the Metaverse, right? That’s just a big game, which is fine but it’s different.
If we were to look at successful theme parks like Disneyland, what we have there isn’t just all of those awesome amusement rides and attractions, but also these waiting spaces, these lobbies for people to gather, and that’s a core function or feature of the design of those places.
And so that lobby element is core to the theme park – without it, it’s not a theme park, right? It’s still a thing that game designers don’t have a lot of experience with, because if they go too much towards the access of play, it’s not a theme park, because it’s a game.
So finding that balance is going to be a challenge for them going forward. Now you’ve got, again, another set of diametrically opposed access points, one is being able to replicate the body but allows you to have the full features and functions of that and lets you do whatever you want. Then there’s the opposite side of that, there’s just the symbol, just the basic representation of you there, and where we sit within that and how the experience is designed. Wherever that is, is going to be, again, a challenge.
JN: Thank you. So, Anna, when you were at Oculus, there was a lot of thinking around presence and avatars and how that connects to it. I remember when Zuckerberg bought Oculus he called it the next great computing platform, and so there was definitely a sense of Metaverse and the future of computing as you were working on it. Do you have any thoughts on the statement of where the Metaverse is going in 2020?
AS: When I was in high school, I played a lot of Ultima Online, and I could never convince my parents that being at home in my room playing a video game was a social experience. But, I would go into school the next day and my friends and I would talk about the adventures that we went on the night before. We were making friendships with people around the world that we would never have met otherwise and some of those friendships I still have today.
And so I think before the whole coronavirus situation happened, gamers had already embraced that being online and using technology could create real social interaction and friendships, and help you have a connection with people. Now that we’ve all gotten locked in our house, we’re searching for ways to connect to people and we’re going to technology. You have people of all generations doing things like Netflix watch parties or playing Tabletop Simulator on Steam or getting on a Zoom call and having a happy hour together.
While I don’t know that we’ve moved much forward in the Metaverse in terms of figuring out what the technology piece is or what the actual game or place it is — we will all congregate. Mentally we’ve all made this huge shift forward in a way that I don’t think we would have been able to otherwise, if for this weird extreme situation, where multi-generational groups of people have now embraced technology as a way to come together. I think that is actually really a key, core component for embracing the Metaverse, whatever it may be in the future. We have taken a really big step forward.
JN: Matt, in your recent essays on COVID-19 and where gaming is going, you also expressed some similar thoughts, so I wanted to give you the opportunity to chime in here.
MB: I think Anna put it well. Ultimately, the Metaverse is very far away from being realized in its fullest vision or even its partly completed version. To that extent, there’s very little that can be done to massively accelerate that trajectory.
The biggest issues are not necessarily consumer willingness, but to some extent it’s interoperability between different partners, different technology stacks/standards, some of the technology as Anna’s mentioning that is required just to underpin basic capabilities is just not there and is nowhere near being solved. Those are outstanding challenges.
At the same point, I think there are three things that are really important: one is the experiences that we were just discussing about spending your life online or time online not killing a terrorist in Counterstrike, not trying to get a mushroom in Mario, but just existing. Those have historically have been stigmatized and not properly understood; this is a rapid process of de-stigmatization, where people are understanding this is a healthy thing to do, and a fun thing to do that will drive an overall embracing of the capabilities required for the Metaverse.
The other thing that’s important here has to do with what this is going to tell various parties they need to do in the future. Online existence is more important than ever, and this need is only going to grow over time. The pressures for closed ecosystems to find ways to share their experiences, and to talk to one another will only grow.
We’ve seen over the past few years that walled gardens such as Sony have already started crumbling faster than ever. Amazon is allowing in-App payments and Apple is allowing in-App payments to go outside of IOS billing. This will drive a much faster acceleration of those existing trends and that’s ultimately key.
And then the last thing is we just need to think of what this means for the ecosystem. As a result of coronavirus, there are going to be far more funded startups that are going to begin building Metaverse-adjacent or Metaverse-like products. Their ability to attract key talent to participate in virtual experiences will be higher than ever, and exclusively as a result of the virus. The ability to attract brands and advertisers to fund these experiences, to enable modernization of these experiences, all of these different elements that are required to not just drive effort and investment in this space, but to make it fruitful are permanently changed as a result.
And so we can still say that the Metaverse is years and years away, but all of the inputs are now healthier and more fertile than we would’ve ever expected in 2020.
JN: As I reflect upon the world we live in today, one of the biggest growths that we’ve seen, even over the last few weeks, has been in livestreaming services like Twitch and others. We’ve also seen real sports going and creating esports equivalents and broadcasting that on livestreaming platforms, too.
So I’m curious, Jt, how you think these efforts are changing the way in which we interact, create and generate content are going to be reflected on platforms, and how that connects to the way in which we treat virtual worlds as we head towards the end of the year?
JG: I think that having everybody in there actually starting to form those authentic community connections that happen inside of livestream experiences, and having a larger number of people engaging with that, will have knock-on effects in the future.
One, on the social side of it, where it becomes de-stigmatized because everybody spends some time wandering around the internet looking at awesome things and are more open to accepting them.
Two, real communities have been formed, and for me, the core of all of livestreaming is about that community feel, that community that you build together. There are some things around esports where it is more event-based, but there’s still the general community of people who care about that particular esport or care about that particular human physical sport.
So I see the rest of this year, and then going forward going as a de-stigmitization of that as an experience that someone would like and want to have. The fact that there is a larger participation base plus all of the strong community connections where people find a new streamer that the love and care about within a new community that they love and care about, isn’t going to go away. Maybe it’s something that would have taken 2 or 3 years otherwise.
JN: Thank you. So one of the topics that we got asked about was with regard to virtual goods. People were interested in our perspective on how virtual economies would change. Another question that we got from Twitter was about how 5G might accelerate that.
These were two of the topics we thought were going to be a main focus for 2020. This was supposed to be the year of 5G. We were all going to go out there, trying all of the latest and greatest; we were going to be connected to Blockchain and have all of these virtual goods and virtual economies, shifting the way in which we interacted, but that’s not happening.
What changed in terms of what peoples’ expectations were going to be for virtual economies, for connectivity, and all of these plans that people had for 5G, and how we were going to connect content to that? Where does this go? We’ll start with Wada-san’s opinion.
WY: First of all, we can’t minimize the economic effect that the current (coronavirus) situation has, but one of the positives that has come about is the change in behavior that will impact interactive streaming and where this industry is going. When you talk about buzzwords like 5G and cryptocurrency, etc., everyone’s always talking about those in singular units or in discreet terms.
But, what we need to think about is more systemic — either how 5G, IOT, and other terms come together to create a new system that’s holistic as opposed to their subparts. We have to change the way we consider this and think about it.
If you think about just 5G, low latency, high throughput, what does that mean? If we think about that in a vacuum, we can see one future. If we look at Blockchain and cryptocurrency and we look at the digitalization of assets in the economy, we’ll get a different, singular view of history, or where things are going.
But in order to have any shot at having some sort of accurate perception of the future, we can think about how these affect each other, and how technology comes together to create these two opportunities, right? Without that we have no shot at any kind of accuracy.
JN: Thank you. So, we’ll go in order here in terms of everybody’s thoughts. We’ll start with Matt, Jt, and then Anna.
MB: It’s very easy to say that when you’re building something new, some new next generation internet, or next generation internet protocol, to say that ‘let’s take a lesson from everything that came before it and let’s start again and write everything anew.’ That’s just not how these things work. You can’t just scoot away every prior precedent, technology, capability, and standard.
And so when we take a look at all of these emergent technologies that are decentralizing computational power that are saying there are new ways to store information, new latency capabilities — all of these are ultimately going to work together in one way, shape, or form.
For example, when we take a look at anything today, whether that is a utility network in the real-world, or standards today; it’s messy, it merges organically, but ultimately, it starts to coalesce around a shared vision that is sometimes driven by one party, sometimes driven by another party, sometimes driven by a collective or the users.
What we’re seeing right now are massive changes in terms of how quickly you can transfer data, how quickly you can transfer inputs and information, how you store that – all of these are going to be foundational to what the future starts to look like. It’s all exciting, but certainly any position that says here is the core technology and everything else is going to solve later, or this is the singular vision and we’re going to push it through, there’s not a single company on Earth that is powerful enough, broad enough, or strong enough, no matter how crazily large they are, to be singular or dominant in that vision.
When we take a look at even some of the most capable game engines, Unity has incredible market share, Epic has their Unreal engine with enormous leverage, but they’re way too small to push any real standard today, beyond what they’ve got in the market.
JN: Thank you. Jt?
JG: I’m in complete agreement with both of those sentiments. And I’d probably go even further in that I feel it’s fundamentally impossible to take all of those inputs and the combinatorial output of that and for any one entity to actually, fully own and control all of the knock-on effects there. We should look at it holistically and try to make our best guesses. But these will always be guesses and we should be comfortable with that world where we try to find a future and push towards it to make it better, as opposed to something a little more top-down and commanding that this technology will be the thing that pushes us forward.
On 5G specifically, I think that having better connectivity for every human being will just pour more humans into this and make it even more complicated and more awesome. It’s definitely one of those technologies that will act as an accelerant as well as a catalyst, so it’s important in that respect, but I don’t think there’s any one particular answer.
JN: Thanks. And Anna?
AS: Pretty much everything we’ve talked about, maybe less so 5G, but Blockchain, interactive video, cloud gaming – all of those things – the real thing that pushes any of them forward is the content.
I see all of them as tools for content creators to do awesome things with, and to the extent that the platforms enable game developers with time and with hardware and with money to invest in inventing what the best use of that technology is, that is what will inevitably drive it forward.
This was true with VR. We had to give game developers time to experiment and fail and try crazy things that we never would have thought of, and now you see Half Life: Alyx shipping and it’s this beautiful, wonderful thing that could only exist in VR. That’s true of all these other technologies. I think you just need to trust and invest in our awesome, creative game developer friends and they will create wonderful things we will all want to experience.
JN: I am completely aligned with that. And I think that’s a great note to end this panel. So I’m very grateful for everybody’s time. Thank you to Wada-san, to Anna, to Jt, and to Matthew, and also to Chris. I would love to do this again sometime, but in the meantime, have a great rest of the day. And thank you to all who have been watching.