Sunday, January 9, 2005


I spoke on this panel this week at CES's GamePower track, along with reps from IBM, Nvidia, National Semiconductor, Freescale Semiconductor, THX, and 3D Labs. We opened with a few minutes each and then turned it over to questions.

People don't come to panels to hear product pitches. They come to hear industry insiders say dramatic and/or controversial things. So I figured I'd better do that :-). I did a mini presentation called:

5 Fluxions in Gaming
for the Next 5 years
... In the next 5 minutes

Catchy, n'est ce pas?

[Andy Grove was a big fan of the term "strategic inflection point". Since I don't think any of these happens at a "point", I called them fluxions. (Forces of change)]

Here were the 5 in short version:

1. The quest for parallelism: I talked about how thermal & other constraints are forcing everyone to go parallel. This is happening both through multi-threading & streaming architectures, and all platforms (Xbox2,PS3, PC) are converging on a hybrid of the two. PC's already there (CPU + GPU). I discussed some of the challenges, and asserted that this will be the most challenging transition facing the game development community since the move from 2D to 3D.

2. A Focus Beyond Graphics: Graphics has been the focal point of gaming for 10 years. It will continue to evolve but is no longer the 'weakest link' in titles. People will focus on physics, character animation, and character behavior (I'd like to call the latter AI, but Robin would bust out some of her AI-fu kick my terminologically-challenged ass). There are big challenges on developing the technology and the taxonomy to go with it. If you think this is wrong, consider some of the most talked about titles of the past years, and what people have been saying about them (e.g. Half-Life 2's physics; GTA3 & Battlefield 1942 "sandbox gameplay"; MMO's despite a usual lag in the graphics dept)

3. Cell phone gaming: OK, no big surprise here. My only interesting assertion here was that compute power/display res/batter life are not the limiting factors here. The limiting factor is that no one has figured out what a "phone game" really is. All games on cell phones today are implementations of gameplay models designed for other devices, and as such, are compromises. What is a "phone game"? There's the catch. No one's figured it out yet!

4. Growth in Asia: Another no-brainer. My assertion here was this: >300M broadband users coming on line in the next 4-5 years. Assume 1/3 of them play games. You have the makings of the emergence of not only a new market segment of gamers, but THE BIGGEST SEGMENT... Virtually overnight! It's going to dramatically affect the industry.

5. Collapse of the Vertical: I asserted that the vertical biz model of the consoles will collapse, and be replaced by a horizontal model. It happens to all verticals, it's only a matter of when. I'd expain why, but this entry is getting long. If interested, I highly recommend Geoffrey Moore's Inside the Tornado - possibly the best biz book I've ever read.

Anyhoo. That was my piece of the panel It went pretty well. About 70 people or so attended, and I was bogged in the hallway for about 40 minutes afterward with questions, so I'm guessing that's a good sign.

Other than that, I experience one of the *best* dinners ever to hit my belly, with folks from Epic, Sony, Nvidia, & Logitech. Yummy yummy yummy. Thanks Mark & Jay!

(Clockwise: Logitech rep, Mark from Sony, Mark from Epic, Jay from Epic, Nvidia rep)
I also had a day to roam the show floor and check stuff out. Saw a nifty game phone from LG, and saw many BIG TV's that gave me serious TV envy. There was other work-related stuff I saw and heard that I won't talk about here. I also went to a party hosted by Real with a bunch of Intellites. Smashmouth played. They seem to do a lot of these corporate gigs. Hmm... Hard up for cash?

On the day I flew out, it was snowing in Vegas. Blech.
dinner Posted by Hello

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