Industry veteran Amy Hennig believes streaming services need to address more than simple hardware concerns if game streaming is going to make it mainstream.
Speaking at Reboot Develop, the former creative director on Uncharted claimed merely putting a game console or high-end PC on a remote server isn’t going to suddenly widen the gaming audience on its own.
This comes in the wake of Google's new streaming service Stadia, which the firm announced with lofty ambitions of bringing Assassin's Creed and Doom to any device over the internet while leaving many important questions left unanswered.
"I see everything being justified as game streaming, and that's just an invisible console,” said Hennig. “You're not pointing it at any bigger audience; it's just the same people that are already buying your hardware. It comes with benefits, but it just seems like very limited thinking.
She explains that there are broader barriers than just hardware ownership keeping many non-gamers out of the medium.
Modern games like Assassin’s Creed - which kick-started Google's game-streaming efforts - make a number of assumptions on control complexity, reaction times and dexterity that Hennig feels keep wider audiences away from landmark titles in the medium.
“We should have the humility to not go, ‘Here are the games we've been making: open wide and become a gamer.' We really should be crafting experiences for them. We need to widen the way we think about games, to think about them as experience; and that doesn't require difficulty, competition, mastery, fail-states, setbacks."
Content concerns have similarly been shared by Microsoft - selling the tech isn't enough on its own, Stadia needs to prove it has the content. But Hennig’s concerns are wider, believing game developers will need to shape experiences around a new audience, rather than expect them to suddenly become traditional gamers.
For now, Hennig feels Netflix’s experiments have come the closest to bringing non-gamers into the fold.
“I like the fact that Bandersnatch exists: it is the best model for frictionlessly easing non-gamers into interactive content."