Lack of fibre to the home holding back games industry - Ian Livingstone

By Sooraj Shah
20 Feb 2013 View Comments
Ian Livingstone

A lack of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband in the UK and abroad is holding back the video games industry, according to the president and CEO of Eidos, Ian Livingstone.

In an exclusive interview at the FTTH Council's Conference 2013, Livingstone, who is also a government appointed "skills champion", told Computing that as broadband speeds were not getting faster, the potential of games had suffered as a consequence. 

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"In many respects, broadband is holding us back," he said. "Broadband speeds are not getting faster or bigger and so it takes longer for users to download the latest iteration of games.

"There is a constant demand for content creators to have to deal with bandwidth and latency by using compression solutions rather than concentrating on making the best game they can possibly make."

BT has claimed that upload speeds do not have to be very high in order to fulfil customers' needs, and therefore believes that fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) is an adequate solution. But Livingstone believes that while this is true of film and TV content online, it is not true of the video games industry.

"It's the real-time connectivity you need with games to be able to constantly download and upload data," he said.

With Sony rumoured to be making an announcement on its next console this evening, Livingstone stated that he would be surprised if the PS4 did not have cloud capabilities, but that whatever capabilities it has, Sony has been restricted in the new console's development.

"Clearly it is going to have some cloud component. I would be surprised if there was no connection for Gaikai [a cloud gaming service that Sony acquired for $380m (£245m)]," he said.

"It seems to me they've had to compromise their ambition, [because] broadband speeds are not at a high enough level across the world," he added.

Livingstone went on to say that he believes that all game consoles makers have one main aim. 

"The ultimate goal is through cloud gaming, to have cross-platform connectivity across the open web on whatever device the user happens to have. I don't think that it's too far away. [Cloud] is already allowing streaming across PCs, gaming and tablets," he said. 

The Eidos CEO explained that superfast broadband will drive jobs and growth, particularly for content creators able to make applications and services that were not invented when video gaming first entered the market.

"Games need broadband and broadband needs games," Livingstone concluded.

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