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AT&T, Verizon Moving Into Gaming

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the stop-wiretapping-my-railgun dept.

Communications 45

Verizon announced today that they are working on a service to deliver games through their broadband service for a monthly fee. The service will begin this summer in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Along similar lines, IndustryGamers reports that AT&T is "investing millions in gaming." In addition to revamping the games section of their website, they are also working on an IPTV service and trying to find a way to unify the gaming experience across mobile platforms, computers, and consoles. "[AT&T's Executive Director of Gaming, Glenn Broderick, said,] 'What we're doing is trying to incentivize [gaming companies] to take some risks by tethering mobile games to console or PC experiences.' ... He continued, 'We're putting a ton of money into back-end systems for both mobile and the broadband site... We're making serious investments in the games space because it's now seen as a huge strategic initiative for AT&T. And before it just wasn't; it wasn't on the executive agenda.' Broderick also is optimistic that cloud-based gaming services like OnLive that provide games on demand will take off in the next 5-10 years, and he sees AT&T and its network as a big player in that."

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Hooray for the end of buying used games! (3, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345335)

Oh, good, yet another way to prevent me from selling back crappy games or games I'm done with. I'm all for destroying gamestop, but it seems to me that one of the best checks against a company profiting off of a game that is utter crap is the resale market.

If your game is terrible, you get many people buying your game because they don't bother reading reviews, many find out it's crappy sell them back, the next line of consumers who also don't read reviews buys the used copies. People who have a passing interest wait for it in the bargain bins or to buy used. You don't sell as many copies as you were hoping and you learn your lesson and don't make crap games.

Now though you buy it you're stuck with it, and all those gamers who don't bother making sure a game is good before wasting their money on it aren't getting any smarter or decreasing in numbers: shovelware is going to get rewarded even more.

Fuck.

Re:Hooray for the end of buying used games! (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345437)

I don't mind games (anything in fact) that can't be resold, as long as it's cheap enough to justify the purchase, or I know it's going to be good beforehand (e.g. recommendation from a friend, or a good demo).

To take your example, with lock-in on the game:
If your game is terrible, you get many people buying your game because they don't bother reading reviews, many find out it's crappy and get annoyed at it and warn their friends off it. The next line of consumers who also don't read reviews (and who would have bought used copies before) mostly don't buy it, because a new copy is too expensive. People who have a passing interest wait for it in the bargain bins. You don't sell as many copies as you were hoping and you learn your lesson and don't make crap games. You might sell a few more copies than if used copies were available, but most people who bought a used copy before won't buy a new copy, so it's not a lot more.

Re:Hooray for the end of buying used games! (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345541)

Addendum:
Also, with no ability to resell, the customer will have less money with which to buy other games, which could include your sequel. Thought that is probably cancelled out by people buying used copies.

Re:Hooray for the end of buying used games! (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28346637)

oh you must not have gotten the memo.. the customer is never out of money.. people these days will just rack up credit card bills to pay for it..

sorry but i find prices today and what people pay for things completely out of control.. expecialy with mmo's and the micro payment ones..

and can someone please explain to me why on earth people pay for text messages? expecialy on devices with a net connection and can easily run IM programs.. many of which now days have sms gateways?

the consumer they are making this for is no one here.. (at least i hope)... they are building this for the people whom have no clue about the game - what happens when AT&T finds it "unprofitable" or what the numbers on their credit card bills mean.

Re:Hooray for the end of buying used games! (3, Informative)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345597)

What the hell are you talking about, its a monthly fee for a service. You aren't buying the games, you're kind of renting them. Like with cable tv.

I would more than welcome having a monthly fee for a nice games library where I could just play whatever game I like. Hell, it would probably be even smaller price than a single game, maybe half of it. Then you could easily download the game you want to play, and if you dont like it you go try the next. No extra costs. Too bad I dont live in the usa, so I wont probably see it for a long time.

Re:Hooray for the end of buying used games! (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345611)

For those that cant RTFA:

"Announced today and starting "this summer," Verizon will be offering "more than 1,400" PC games through its broadband service, for $9.99 per month. The service boasts a variety of games, ranging from Bejeweled to Splinter Cell, allowing customers to play the games over an internet connection or download the games directly to their computers -- provided the computer is connected to the internet, that is, presumably for license verification."

Re:Hooray for the end of buying used games! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28353345)

Yeah, it's link repeatedly renting 100 crappy games so you can get 5-10 good ones.

Re:Hooray for the end of buying used games! (4, Insightful)

jaggeh (1485669) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345933)

it looks like a steam clone with a stupid pricing system.

Re:Hooray for the end of buying used games! (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28350799)

yeah, but with the network owners "competing" with Steam, they get to use network non-neutrality to give them a competitive advantage. So the idiotic pricing will seem totally worth it because their content gets to you faster and with fewer dropped packets than Steam's. Telco executives are teh awesome.

Re:Hooray for the end of buying used games! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28347477)

they've had gaming for 15 years, it's called customer service.

Re:Hooray for the end of buying used games! (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 5 years ago | (#28347655)

To be completely frank, anyone buying used games from Gamestop and other such stores is a fool. These retailers pay next to nothing for these games and then go and discount $5 or $10 off what a new copy would cost. Shopping around online anyone can find a far better deal for a new game than they will trying to buy one used. No game is that good that a person cant wait a couple of days in order to get a good value.

I would fully support the used game market if it weren't such a complete scam.

Re:Hooray for the end of buying used games! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28347973)

I would agree with you if the used game market consisted of current-generation games that have only been out a year. You won't find any bargains getting used Wii or XBox360 games. However, you can get some great deals by shopping previous generation games. I just recently bought a couple of GameCube games that I missed the first time around and they cost at most $20, usually just $15. This isn't for shovelware either (they can't get more than $5 for that crap). It's the same story with PS2 and XBox. Sure, I could find some of the games cheaper online (Craigslist, Amazon, eBay, whatever) but I don't really get that "cheap impulse buy" feel, and shipping costs sometimes offset the savings.

As a rule, if you can still buy the game new at retail, then there's no point at buying it at GameStop. If it's last-gen and no longer in retail stores, sometimes you can get a deal.

""I see people making money!"" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28345337)

I want some of that too!

Jesus... really... at&t in gaming? couldnt you find a more fucked up clueless greedy company to do it?

like comcast?

Re:""I see people making money!"" (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345419)

They tried calling Microsoft, but they were too busy working on the Xbox 720 to pick up the phone.

Re:""I see people making money!"" (1)

jaggeh (1485669) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345927)

you know why its called the Xbox 720? because you spin around twice and walk away!

Re:""I see people making money!"" (1)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356857)

If you spin around twice you will walk right into it.

Re:""I see people making money!"" (1)

anarche (1525323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28357219)

If you spin around twice you will walk right into it.

You've obviously never spun around twice and tried to walk in a straight line

Moving into gaming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28345351)

What kind of platforms will they be developing for, and if for Linux does that mean they would ignore the LGPL to have full market penetration? [freeimagehosting.net] Why is it that all the other Opensource compatible licensing allows easy cross-development of commercial applications onto various operating systems except anything GNU?

Re:Moving into gaming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28346667)

Good question, you should ask GNU/RMS

Translation... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28345411)

I can translate this...

"We cannot seem to squeeze any more margin out of our sub-standard networks (when compared to Europe/Japan/etc, both land line and cellular, so instead of upgrading those networks and building out something worthwhile to the customer, we will have some MBAs think of some new space we can pump our money into. We want to change the story, rather than improve the current story."

Somehow, I don't think this is going to work out too well for them.

Re:Translation... (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 5 years ago | (#28347457)

Alternate translation: "Hey, Steam is a pretty good business model. Let's copy that".

Re:Translation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28351395)

Um your translation is only halfway complete:

"Now you can get all these rental games and ubar-online gaming experience! And for a hellofullaot more, you can even buy more bandwidth to compensate for our the internet traffic shaping/throttling we do!"

Whomever mentioned this story having to do with Net Neutrality is spot on, even if it hasn't exactly reared its head yet.

How is this net neutrality related? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345415)

Honestly, until there is evidence they will be tampering with other game/vod services, I dont see how this is a net neutrality issue.

All indications are these services are opt-in rather than compulsory, and honestly I have no problem with that, as if they'll even show up on the radar of, say, blizzard entertainment.

Re:How is this net neutrality related? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28345741)

You honestly think that they will be above using the same mafioso blackmail tactics on Blizzard and independent game server admins as they have on say, VOIP and IPTV? The broadband gaming revolution was nice while it lasted, but once this scheme is running as intended you can expect to see your favorite Counter Strike server become mysteriously laggy (or disappear from the list altogether) unless it is part of their approved, regulated, sponsored group (in which case no one from outside that walled garden will be able to play there).

Re:How is this net neutrality related? (2, Informative)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28347459)

I dont see how this is a net neutrality issue.

Because AT&T has a history of acting like a thug to protect its markets, even (and especially) the ones that its entering.

So now, as an Earthlink DSL* subscriber who rides on AT&T wires, I now have to worry that AT&T is going to mess with my WoW connection.

*(Ya, I know, I need to do something about that. It seemed like a good idea 13 years ago.)

"Unifying the game experience"? (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345785)

Say what?

On the mobile side, AT&T is taking its .net website to phones for a "more consistent experience" between PC and mobile. Essentially, AT&T has a "three-screen focus," Broderick said. "We're looking at the TV, broadband connected PC and mobile almost as a unified platform," he stressed. "What we're doing is trying to incentivize [gaming companies] to take some risks by tethering mobile games to console or PC experiences.

Does anyone know what language this guy is speaking? It's almost like English, but seems to convey no useful information.

Is he saying that the same game will be playable and look pretty much the same on mobile, PC and on a TV (presumably through a set-top box)? Wow, that should be a shitty experience for at least two out of three platforms, although I wouldn't rule out the possibility of it sucking on all three.

Or is he proposing multiple clients with potentially wildly disparate UIs playing in the same game world, chosen from a vast content range such as video poker, scrabble, or video poker?

Would anyone care to risk their sanity by trying to decipher the meaning behind his marketdroid hoots and wails?

Re:"Unifying the game experience"? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28347023)

Excuse me Miss, I speak Corporatespeak. What he's saying is "We have no fucking clue what this service will look like at this point. We just know that it will involve videogames, because we hear they're hip. We don't know enough about videogames at this point to say what form those videogames will take, or even how they'll be distributed--but we hope to get some companies to partner with us soon who do know something about videogames, how they work, and how we can make money off them."

Re:"Unifying the game experience"? (1)

bhsx (458600) | more than 5 years ago | (#28347215)

No, I think he's refering to side games. Think of perhaps games of chance(card games, anything to "gamble") that allow you to make money for a MMORPG or to buy better guns or even earn points towards downloadable maps/content for FPS or RTS, delivered through flash to your phone, and hooked into your game account.

Re:"Unifying the game experience"? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28347837)

I have no idea what you just said, but I have the inexplicable urge to give you a metric shedload of money to produce a document with "synergy" in the title.

Re:"Unifying the game experience"? (2, Insightful)

FrozenFOXX (1048276) | more than 5 years ago | (#28353183)

Sure, what he's saying is that they want someone else to make a way for them to sell you TV, your Internet Connection, and your phone, and then keep you hooked on all three. Basically some "game" that you'd say, "Well I thought about changing my phone to T-mobile but then I wouldn't be able to play this game since I wouldn't have all three services! I CAN'T have THAT!"

It's just another way for them to try and stick you with three services. The rep makes no sense because he doesn't understand what he's talking about. People think you can just use this magickal, "game," thingie that seems so popular and suddenly use it to make people buy all your useless shit. It's the same kinda thing that Microsoft tries to pull but really isn't as good at as it claims (witness how well Shadowrun for tie-in worked out).

Don't think too hard about it because they've got no idea how it works either (it comes from not playing any games...seriously, most of these people don't even know what a game IS, and that I say from a lot of experience). When we hear something like, oh I dunno, that you'd be able to plot raid groups in WoW from your phone, watch those same dungeon runs you plotted out on your server on your TV, and even play in them the conventional way with your computer, *then* you can feel free to start puzzling over it again.

Internet (4, Funny)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345985)

...and trying to find a way to unify the gaming experience across mobile platforms, computers, and consoles.

I got it! We'll build a giant computer network that spans the entire globe. Then we can hook all of these mobile platforms, computers, and consoles up to it so they can communicate seamlessly. In fact, we can hook just about anything up to it. I propose we call this new invention "The Internet."

Re:Internet (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28346105)

... and then they buy SCO, and proceed to sue the world because they "own" the internet and all others are infringing and owe them licensing fees.

Re:Internet (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28346579)

That would never work!

People would come to depend on centralized authorities to hand out addresses and names, which would become corrupt and monopolistic, and would charge people through the nose, making the whole thing economically unfeasible.

Also, given how much the US loves "free markets", they would let private companies own the networks, leading to more monopoly control and monopoly pricing. Also, what's the economic incentive for people to put stuff on this "Internet"?

The economics would never work. Never, I tell you!

Re:Internet (1)

Voyager529 (1363959) | more than 5 years ago | (#28346987)

...and trying to find a way to unify the gaming experience across mobile platforms, computers, and consoles.

I got it! We'll build a giant computer network that spans the entire globe. Then we can hook all of these mobile platforms, computers, and consoles up to it so they can communicate seamlessly. In fact, we can hook just about anything up to it. I propose we call this new invention "The Internet."

Al Gore is a slashdotter?

Nice to hear (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28346171)

I'm sure they'll be as innovative and customer centric in the gaming worlds as they have been in the communications industry.

"core" gamer (3, Funny)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 5 years ago | (#28346225)

Broderick said it's going to be rebuilt from the ground up "to serve everyone from the casual gamer to the core gamer."

Here's a new term, the "core" gamer. The same as "hardcore," but none of the negative connotations.

I like it! Real respectable-like!

att needs to push out higher dsl speeds as well (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28346597)

att needs to push out higher dsl speeds as well. At lest double all speeds as they are now if the line can handle it and let people get u-verse with out the tv part and use the band with not needed by the tv part for higher download speeds. higher speeds will also help with people who have direct tv get faster direct tv VOD downloads.

also have the games played on your system and not a sever farm that will have control lag (cable VOD has that and it will suck for games) and high bandwidth needs like on live will need.

Cloud Rendered Gaming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28347433)

Is this going to use the same service that was announced some time back that using servers to do all of the game rendering, and then stream the content to a console? No reason it can't be adapted to stream to phones, PCs, or TVs. I'm guessing it'll work something like streammygame.com. You can render high quality at the server side, then scale the video quality for the different devices.

web site with flash games (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#28347499)

Once they find out customers interested in games are expecting enough bandwidth to actually play games, this "great new thing" will crumple into some crappy site with a bunch of flash based card games and links to overpriced rent-a-games. AT&T, et al, need to focus on increasing the amount of bandwidth they can provide customers -- at least to what they advertise -- so their customers can stop being pissed about shoddy connectivity.

The first ISP to provide free time on a good MMO and the bandwidth to enjoy it as part of the service just gets my respect.

Re:web site with flash games (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348349)

The first ISP to provide free time on a good MMO and the bandwidth to enjoy it as part of the service just gets my respect.

Screw that. I don't want to have a portion of the money I'm paying for an internet connection going to some bullshit MMO that I'm never going to go near. How about we drop all the extra crap, and they just give me the internet connection I'm paying for? Cut out all the add-on bullshit I never use and offer it as a separate package.

These tie-ins and packages are becoming stupid. Every ISP (well, the big ones that actually own the networks, anyway) seems to be trying to emulate AOL from 15 years ago - instead of providing internet access (you know, what I give them money for) they throw in all this useless, self-branded crap that I'm never going to use. Cut my bill by $2 a month a drop the BS. If they want to offer bundled games and branded portals, etc., fine - but don't make that a standard part of the internet access I'm paying for. Hell, I don't even care if they give me an email address - I can't remember the last time I actually used the email address(es) provided by my ISP.

Re:web site with flash games (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#28361781)

trying to emulate AOL from 15 years ago

Considering how bad AOL sucked, I'd say they are doing a good job.

Anyway, I agree with you. It WOULD be better to get what we pay for than all that other BS. I guess I've just succumbed to the realization, that will never happen.

integration (1)

IlluminatedOne (621945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28348093)

Strictly speaking from the Verizon side as I have no experience with AT&T or their networks (directly), I would like to see something like this tightly integrated with their other offered services. I am an extremely happy FIOS customer and while I am happy with the services, I see the potential for so much more. For example, I lamented to my wife this weekend (to what I am sure resulted in behind the back eyerolling) that I should be able to pull up the box score for the Phillies game I was watching. Consoling and/or feeding the baby diverts my attention and I missed some scoring. I felt I shouldn't have to grab the bberry or laptop to find out what happened, I should be able to overlay real-time stats on the screen with the game still visible.

I bring this up as a corollary to the gaming discussion. I would use this service if it was a) offering desirable games I could not play on the Xbox 360 or XBLA and b) possible to pull up and play the games through the TV. Obviously, your home PC would be running the game, but the STBs already have USB ports in them to allow a controller to be used. We use the Home Media option on our DVR and the PC integration part of it is clunky at best (ex: I was disappointed to have run back to the PC to fire up WMP to stream music and you can't stream video unless your have Windows MCE). If they are able to make some strides with that aspect of their Home Media offering, this could be a solid win. It will be interesting to see how 'polished' this is when its offered....

As a gamer, here's what i think : Fuck off (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28353895)

after all the shit at&t tried to pull off about the internet, how on earth can they think that they could be accepted in gaming circles ?

i, for one, as a gamer, would refrain from ANYthing that is sold through at&t. its better not to get devil involved in something than to try to fix it later.

Re:As a gamer, here's what i think : Fuck off (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356071)

While I have to agree with your intentions, I don't think it's that easy for their corporate officers to see what a bad idea this is.

I also say fuck-off. However, I also have to caution the FCC against these sort of actions.

When AT&T has its own games unit, they will be in direct competition with Steam and other distribution channels.

AT&T will have a vested interest in degrading the Steam experience over their networks.

I use Comcast, but the point is the same. I am, at the moment of typing this, downloading "Ghostbusters" over Steam.

If Comcast had their own games store, they would much prefer me to use their store. They would also "prioritize" their games store's downloads.

This is what net neutrality is all about. So while I say fuck-off, I also tell the FCC to investigate the legality of competing with other businesses while providing a neutral service.

Interpretation a la Yes, Minister lines (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28358675)

'We're putting a ton of money into back-end systems for both mobile and the broadband site...

Meaning: Our administrators report our server utilisation stands at 83%. The remaining 17% is a huge potential for us to squeeze more money from customers without spending a cent.

We're making serious investments in the games space because it's now seen as a huge strategic initiative for AT&T.

Meaning: We have to threaten EA, Relic, and other Game makers to provide their games free of cost to us, else they will face "unfortunate accidents" when their customers try to visit their sites.

And before it just wasn't; it wasn't on the executive agenda.

Meaning: That's true. It never struck us that we could make more money by utilising remaining reserve of 17% of servers capacity and get the games for free from EA by just threatening them.

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