Cloud gaming limited by 'the laws of physics' - Iwata

Nintendo boss says claims of an all-cloud gaming future are 'strange'

Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata is unconvinced that cloud computing is the future of gaming because of inherent limitations with the technology.


Iwata argues that, "by the laws of physics", highly-interactive games such action titles are simply not suited to the technology due to the latencies involved in passing data and images between the user and a remote server.

"The term 'cloud gaming' is one of the words we have lately heard so often, but I would like people to understand that there are certain things that cloud gaming cannot achieve," he said during a recent investors Q&A.

"Since the time to transmit data over an Internet connection is never negligible, there is always some latency before you receive the result of your input," he said.

"Of course, there are types of games on which delays have no effect. On the other hand, for some highly interactive games, action games in particular, the time required to reflect the push of a button on the screen is critical and the frame rate (the number of times a screen can be updated in a given second) determines the fluidity of the movements. This means that there are some types of games that can be put on the Internet and others that cannot."

While cloud gaming's viability clings to the promise of improved internet speeds in future, Iwata remains skeptical.

"By the laws of physics, it always takes some time to transmit data, and given the current level of Internet technology, there is bound to be some latency during the processes of a server receiving data, producing images instantly and sending them back."

"There are many things that cloud gaming cannot do by design, but this fact has not been communicated well to the public, and I find it strange that many people claim that cloud gaming is the future," declared Iwata.

Sony Computer Entertainment acquired cloud-based gaming service Gaikai for approximately $380 million last year - a move which, according to the announcement, will allow an array of content, including high-end games, to be streamed to "a range of internet enabled devices".