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The almighty cloud is having a significant impact on much of the entertainment and consumer electronics industries, but Nintendo president Satoru Iwata says he isn’t worried about what kind of effect the transition to cloud-based services will have on his company. In a recent discussion with investors, Iwata downplayed the growth of cloud gaming and said that, at least for some types of games, it just doesn’t make sense.
The discussion, posted on Nintendo’s Japanese website, included Iwata saying that cloud gaming is not reliable because of the lag time between a user input and the server response. This isn’t an issue if you’re streaming a movie, but it’s critical if you’re playing a game. He went on to say that declaring cloud gaming as the future is “strange” and made it very clear that this is not a road Nintendo is going to take any time soon.
It should come as no surprise that Nintendo would try to downplay the significance of a new technological innovation. That has been the company’s modus operandi for the last several years. The Nintendo 64 was one of the last holdouts for a cartridge-based system, and even when Nintendo did move to a disc platform with the Gamecube, it limited playback to the never-popular mini DVD medium. And of course, the Wii was released without high definition capabilities or any sort of online community.
These are all things that Nintendo said didn’t matter at the time, and would then be looked down on a few years later as being way behind the times. Then again, what exactly is the state of cloud gaming right now? The only major player in the space, OnLive, declared bankruptcy. Sony’s acquisition of the cloud startup Gaikai has also seemingly not been put to use in any capacity for the end user as of yet, and the major console makers are all touting bigger and better hard drives, not bigger and better cloud capacity.
The next console generation is approaching, though, and the Xbox 720 and PS4 could have vastly different approaches. If they make cloud gaming the next big thing, Nintendo will once again fall behind the curve.