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Titanfall: Xbox One Cloud could usher in new era of multiplayer experiences

by William Schwartz

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The Xbox One Cloud might not be all marketing talk at the end of the day. The service has been touted as a game changer for franchises like Forza Motorsport, cool as buzz words like drivatar may be, some of the claims don’t exactly sound like ground breaking revolutions to the world of video games. Though one thing that is undeniably popular is online multiplayer gaming. It’s seen a huge surge in popularity on consoles over the last decade, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

However, the world of online gaming has been held back by one big hinderance, and that’s player hosted servers. According to Jon Shiring, a developer on Titanfall and previously the Modern Warfare franchise, dedicated servers are the wave of the future. This future will be facilitated by a cloud infrastructure like the one found on the Xbox One.

Shiring recently took to the Respawn Blog to talk about the cloud and how it will be an impactful feature in Titanfall, and why player hosted games like Call of Duty have so many problems. Shiring gives a rundown of many of the problems that we find in online multiplayer games, and how the cloud remedies these issues.

This is technology that will push new ideas in online games for years to come

“So why do so many games use them? They have one really big upside – it doesn’t cost money to run the servers! Running hundreds of thousands of servers can be extremely expensive. EXTREMELY expensive. Like ‘oh my god we can’t afford that’ expensive. So your player experience gets compromised to save (large amounts of) money.”

This cost is the reason that dedicated servers in this generation have been few and far between. Even the games that do use them, like Battlefield 3 for example, pass the buck and ask players to pony up the cash to have a dedicated server to handle their online matches. In this example, the servers aren’t cheap, either. Worse yet, Xbox Live Gold members already pay to play online in a peer to peer environment. From what Shiring is saying about the future of online games, the cloud won’t just be a selling point for the Xbox One, but for Xbox Live Gold as well.

“Microsoft realized that player-hosted servers are actually holding back online gaming and that this is something that they could help solve, and ran full-speed with this idea. The Xbox group came back to us with a way for us to run all of these Titanfall dedicated servers and that lets us push games with more server CPU and higher bandwidth, which lets us have a bigger world, more physics, lots of AI, and potentially a lot more than that!”

Shiring explains that despite a lot of talk downplaying the importance of the cloud, that it is in fact a “really big deal”. He also says that the Xbox One Cloud allows developers who use it the ability to do things that games using player hosted servers can’t. “This is something that’s going to let us drive all sorts of new ideas in online games for years to come,” concludes Shiring. This innovation is the type of thing that gamers need to hear about from new consoles like the Xbox One. It’s an experience improving feature that players likely deal with in their day to day interactions with their current-gen hardware. With such a wide audience of multiplayer gamers on Xbox Live and the Xbox 360 who log-in day after day to play their favorite online games, how Microsoft didn’t think to explain how their online experience would be better on the Xbox One is a mystery.

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