Artikel Tagged ‘online games’

Future Internet Public Private Partnership


Question 1: What use case and scenarios in your area would you consider the most appropriate and representative for all large large-scale experimentations with the future internet platform to be built starting from 2013?

The most important application scenario for the game development community will be content. It is appreciated, that apparently it is a goal to involve creative industries and media into this from the beginning. We also support the idea of having trials which focus on the whole content production chain. The internet is not just about content management but also about developers and producers for the content itself. Of course from a technology point of view the idea to develop also the network and infrastructure and to develop middleware in this context is important (e.g. in the latency context). The games industriy has however developed server management technologies and other tools which can deliver quality of experience without perfect networks.

The most important role in this content use case of the EGDF is to keep the content application layer open for creators. That means that we will try to steer this research approach into a direction, where it does not leed to new gatekeeper scenarios.

Networked game development can also be one of the main user scenarios for the content layer; context questions of gaming platforms and human machine interfaces are to be complemented by games themselves. It should be clear that neither offline game publishers nor pure technology providers can do the job properly, but only game developers themselves. The PC based internet of today, which allows independent developers to communicate directly with the consumer, has been good for the European game and media development community and this should be brought further.

Another aspect of the involvement of game development are other user scenarios like energy, transport, logistics, and health.  These other user scenarios can be interesting application scenarios for applied games (also called serious games). Special attention could be devoted to health related computer games, not only from a traditional stand-point, but also seen from a “how to get people to move” standpoint. For too long have computer games been given the “blame” for still-standing kids, it’s time to look at the potential positive use of it. This means that computer games are used not only as motivation trainer and softtools, but potentially also as real medical equipment in a psychatic context for example.  

Another area for development is a more active use of games and games experiences in tourism, museums and school-systems, where both travellers and students can get more pointed and better experiences through the use of the gaming medium. 

It is very important to observe and to be heard in refelctions on new business models (which are well developed in the game industry and can be a new piracy proof model for other content applications) and legal and other observations in this context. EDGF is offering to participate in this think tank approach.


Question 2: What innovative internet functionality and technologies would you consider important for your suggested use case scenario?

Most important internet functionality would be the reliability and pan-European speed of the network, also if large volumes of data are driven in real time. It is widely acknowledged that computer games have contributed in the past to the development of computer hardware worldwide more than any other application. So far, computer games have been the most demanding mass-application for computer hardware and they will be in the future. The development of microchips inside the hardware as well as the development of graphic cards and other elements, like displays, is deeply related to the more and more demanding architecture of modern computer games. Today this approach spreads to networks themselves, as computer games played in the networks are a high technical challenge for them. Therefore computer game developers and companies can be seen as an indicator for innovation on computer based systems and networks. As of such it is difficult to exactly pin-point the exact innovation of the functionality, as its content based, and hence it already moves in all directions. Recent evolutions have however focused around real-time streaming, user-created content (for i.e. uploads to larger gaming universes), 3D gaming, touch-based gaming, advanced AI, reality “lay-overs” and multiple other new scenarios.

Of course it would be important to connect mobile and online services with the cloud in a real time -level. Especially, if the network becomes more content aware in a non-discrimatory way. These days we even see the start of the first gaming working-class, people working within games to serve other users inside games, and hence the legislators and net-work creators must also ensure that the rights of the innovative consumers are protected.   

Question 3: Wich of the identified functionalities would you expect the Future Internet core technology platform to deliver to support your and other usage aerea scearios?

First it is important to develop open application scenarios which are not too much linked and twisted into testbeds, but are also tested as mass- application. It is not necessarily useful to be too little innovation driven and hiding from reality. One of the things which, should be thought about is that standardization is useful, but only when it does not lead to a situation where a group of stakeholders creates lock in effects. Generic enablers, for example, must be designed in a way, that they are also acceptable from an open community in a real context. This has to do with technology but also with business models and platform policy, where the voice of those, who create the cotent, should be heard from the beginning.  If this is not secured, the whole effort might be deemed to fail.

It is also of the outermost importance of laying down fast and reliable networks, with the ability to securely stream or distribute large amounts of data / content, across Europe. If the trend towards cloud computing continues, which it seem to do, it’s vital that the infrastructure is capable of supporting this trend.

Moreover it’s important that the eco-system surrounding the online games when it comes to personal security as well as payments systems. Today Europe is a “mess” when it comes to payment systems, and a more homogenous approach to this could prove to be effective for content developers. This is in particular important for the many new “free 2 play” micro-transaction initiatives from the gaming sector. This mind-set to free gaming and small payments is now spreading fast, across the entire eco-system, from small Facebook games to large virtual universes, and it’s important that Europe seeks to ease its diversity on mechanical aspects like payments. This will also help decrease development and support costs, as well as pave the way for this future when it comes to newspapers, TV and many other forms of media. 

Question 4: What kind of experimentation environment would you consider necessary for broad large scale testing of platform to be developed in your user area? What would be needed to experiment new services and applications cutting across use areas (services and applications mash-ups) and building a new services and application eco-system around the prototype implementation of the platform?

The experimentation environment should be realistic. It is not necessary to develop at too much unrealistic scenario. If experimentation testbeds have any large scale interest for game developers, it is at the crossover between cloud computing, mobile services and online services, where large databases are used in real time with low latency. As computer games have contributed to the development of computer hardware as no other application, they can be demanding applications for networks in the future. The experimentation should be therefore not only seeing computer game development the possible mass application but as the test scenario itself. Developing large scale computer games on new test arenas would be the possibility to insuresure that it actually runs. This concerns also the mix up of game technology with other more linear media technologies in an internet context.

It is important to notice here that even though “games” is placed under one umbrella, it’s really branching out to encompass a multitude of directions and use scenarios. This eco-system of games is now spreding into new fields at an ever faster rate, and the experimentation environment will differ from developer to developer and project to prohject. This goes not only for pure online gaming on the PC / Mac platforms, but also on experiences related to the consoles and on portable devices. This means that one should not necessarily bind the scenarios down to a few variations, but rather allow a mindset where one can expect, and should adapt for, many new (as of now unknown) applications.  As most of the larger developers in this field already posses their own specialized pipe-line for testing their own content, often built to spec on technology they have spent years developing, it’s important that the environment, like today, is kept open for self-experimentation, and not locked down by strict regulations. 

You can also say that “what do developers need” goes just as much on good support programs, as specific new experimentation scenarios. In Europe we now have a big chance, the biggest to date in the history of gaming, to become a lead player, but we are also fighting against other states and their support programs. It’s therefore vital that within the experimentation, one must also experiment with online games dedicated support programs, which allow a higher degree of risk for our best and most innovative developers. We now see that active states, like Canada, are actively “stealing” all of our best companies through great support programs; and many of our leading companies have decided to move large parts of their production outside of Europe.

Question 5: How do you see the potential role of your organization in the FI-PPP, in the context of usage areas ttaking a prominent role in the Initative, to ensure an appropriate application driven approach?

The Role of the EDGF in the FI-PPP is to a certain degree the trust- holder of the independent and in the most cases content driven SME’s which have been and will be the main driver of the internet. The fast and thrilling technological and cultural changes have been made possible by unleashing the possibilities of setting up new services and business models beyond existing hirarchical structures. From the entrepreneurs perspective it is therefore very important to keep the pace going, which is made possible by many small enteties, rather than few large ones.

Therefore end-user aspects as entertainment and fun of users are not to be underestimated as drivers of innovation and should not be pushed to the side. They must be in the very center of the future internet. It is therefore the mission of EDGF to make sure, that the developed elements (as generic enablers) are not used by other partners in the long run as tools to gatekeep European SMEs for business purposes. The role of the EDGF – as an association of more than six hundred game developing companies in Europe – is to keep innovation  open and healthy during the development of this public private partnership.

Within the development phases of the PPP the EDGF could have following roles:

In phase 1 EGDF should be involved in the definition of the basic principles, governance models and key set-ups from the perspective of its very community in trusteeship for the content driven SME’s. It must be involved in the steering group also to support relevant user areas from a game developer’s perspective. Especially it is about preparing the set-up of phase 3 – the application scenarios.

In phase 3 there should be several application scenarios from a game developer perspective, such as Funcom. So to say the involvement in phase 1 is necessary to be able to define the previous positions of applications from a game developer perspective in phase 3. Therefore EDGF is prepared to participate in a respective support action now.  

Games are apt as represenatives for drivers of – sometimes – destructive innovation and many other content and application layers can learn from the game industry, its technology and buisness models. The EGDF’s voice should therefore be involved also in the think tank activity.This concerns cross domain applications and services (so called mash-ups) especially the interlinkage between content and technology as well as between content and networks. It also concerns political and legal issues from a technology perspective like freedom and non-discrimination as innovation driver.

Keeping game developers in the center of the future internet PPP is a cornerstone of implementing a user centric apporoach.  Not only are game developers themselves early users of professional services, but they know and sense probably more and better than other parts of the industry what the users need as they are more than others depending on the users joy only.

It is also noteworthy to mention that the “open” internet  allows European game developers and publishers to operate without having “forced” fees to American and Japanese players platform holders (Microsoft,  Sony, Nintendo, Apple).  With these new types of online games, where European companies can for the first time communicate directly with their users, they also control their own future to a much bigger degree. Ultimately this means that the revenues, industry build-up and innovation also comes directly back to Europe. Over time will not only positively impact the tax income of Europe, but also the creative gaming industries of Europe. This in turn will have a direct impact on many other European industries in need of the visualization and interactivity which the gaming industry has always advocated.

“Telecom package – preparing for a 3rd reading” The transcript of the speech by Secretary General Malte Behrmann in a seminar by The Greens/European Free Alliance at 7.9.2009

Following you find the introductory post for this blog, regarding my speech “Telecom package – preparing for a 3rd reading” as a transcript from a seminar by The Greens/European Free Alliance at 7.9.2009.  You can get the speach, nicely formattet in pdf together with the slides used in my speach here.

Merrits go to our internJari-Pekka Kaleva from Finland and the rest of the community of the seminar for creating the transcript of my speech.

Thank you again for inviting me, I will try to keep it short. I want to however say this from a lawyers perspective, I am also a lawyer, that there are numerous discussions about efficiency and digital judgement all the time. I think that we can not review digital court decisions just for the shake of efficiency in every case… just because of efficiency arguments. That is something I say as a lawyer; I say it before my speech. I think that it will be my personal contribution to this discussion here. This is not only happening here…in lot of places efficiency argument are used in legislative procedures.

My name is Malte Behrmann, I’m a lawyer at EGDF in Berlin.

I represent the European Games Developer Federation. I’m the general secretary of this organization, so I am a content producing industry. So we are actually affected by the Telecom Package just because of direct revilement to content industry. I didn’t even think about the Telecom Package before, until people started poking to me about this kind of content related matter. We are an association of developer associations all over Europe, I am also involved in German association, and we have members all over western Europe. I would say, today, we represent over 600 studios, which employ together almost 17 000 people. We had not been invented 20 years ago, so all these 17 000 jobs have been created over last 20 years, which is maybe one of the reasons I can say that computer games are cultural objects… but… it is a cultural objects which are basically quite new. And It’s probably the first, and until today the only, truly digital cultural object, which always has been digital from the beginning. That’s makes our position different to traditional media, which are also cultural media as computer games, but which had more problems in transitioning themselves into the digital era than we have.

Game development in Europe is an economic, cultural and technological challenge, because games are at the crossroads of all these three issues. When I started politics for computer game developers for about 7 years ago, the ministries always sent me to the other one. The Minister of Culture said:

“I’m not responsible, it’s the technology who is responsible”, and they said “I’m not responsible, you have to go to the economy”, and they said “no, no, no,
economy is not responsible, you have to go back to the culture”. So I figured over the years that actually we’re all three of them: we’re culture, we’re economy and technology. And guess what, now all three ministries want to be responsible for us, in all countries and also at the European level. So what happened is that people actually understood that games are so important, because they touch all three of these fields and not only one of these: cultural diversity, which means democracy; economic development, which means jobs and technological innovation, which means basically stuff like Lisbon agenda and stuff like that on the European level.
So, I come from a little bit outside the Internet world, as we create computer games. And when we started, we didn’t necessarily create computer games for the Internet. We have made computer games for consoles…

When I started to work with computer game politics seven years ago everybody in industry was talking about next generation console… everybody was talking about faster images… stronger computers… better computers… INTEL actually has prospered a lot from our strong development [INTEL says: Thank you for that.] No problem [laughter]

Then some three-four years ago, suddenly we had new human-machine interfaces from Japan like Wii and stuff like that. Suddenly, a new trend came across that nobody really had expected. But the biggest trend we have – and that’s not just discussion – it is a structural change as the online game. It is a trend which goes directly to the consumers. And the weird thing about computer games, and the funny thing is that my members, they don’t really believe that they are actually in the very centre of convergence and they are the pioneers of the free internet and of the future. They don’t really believe that they have this kind of important role, but slowly, slowly now they are starting to understand what happens around them and where they are positioned and that the convergence is happening. Surprise, it just happens now. Actually, when I started to be interested in media politics more than 10 years ago, people were talking about convergence all the time.

Then it was not happening. And now it is happening and nobody believes it. The important thing about online games is that it changes supply and demand. It changes business models. It changes the value chain, and that is what I would like to talk to you about for about four or five minutes more. The other thing, which is important, is that online-games are not so piracy vulnerable as off-line games, which are put on the Internet and heavy downloaded – similar to music and film – and then you have the basic piracy problem. You do not have this kind of piracy problems when you have genuine online games, which are on a server and as they are on a server you have to log in. Even in China you can become very rich running those, where there is no enforcement of copyright at all.

And that makes this for me very clear, that actually the whole anti-piracy discussion, which is very necessary and I am not against it from a fundamental point of view, but the whole piracy discussion is actually a problem of transitioning the channel. It’s not necessarily a problem as such, because there are business models in content industry, which are easy with piracy problems.

There’s of course also the problem that sometimes pirates copy the whole server and then you have also a problem. That happened for very big games. But let’s neglect this kind of problem, because that probably solvable otherwise.

When I started to being interested in game politics and fought for game developers in political context, I started to raise the issue of public funding for games development similar to film industry, because I thought, or we thought that computer game developers have a similar position in society as film producers, reflect culture to a new generation and we should be aware that it is necessary that we have German games, that we have French games that we have Scandinavian games. But what happens, is that these kinds of discussions are going on and slowly administrations started to support game development. But beyond that, we have the Internet and we have online games doing most of the job themselves, because suddenly we have a new value chain, where developers start to develop computer games and put them in the Internet and distribute them directly through the Internet to the end consumer.

And suddenly the publishers, distributors, the retailers – who get most of the money, most of the revenue – are cut out as the middle men and suddenly the developers themselves can actually receive a fair contribution for what they have put into their game development. That is a very new and recent developments and I must tell you I have witnessed this myself. I have seen game developers, starting with 6 people. They came to us as a small company. And now they are 300. And they are really big, and I am surprised myself. That is the kind of thing I want to preserve, I want to preserve a free Internet, because I think it actually is NOW a chance for Europe to haveInternet as a free and not overregulated.

If you look at the Internet, if you look at the retail games of last years, you see that online and mobile are becoming more and more important compared to package retail. This is long structural change. It is probably a little bit quicker now, because the crisis was very good for online distribution. But we must see that the dark blue thing [in a chart in the presentation], that’s controlled by the oligopolies, that’s controlled all by non-European companies, but the light blue stuff, that’s the online games. Some are Korean games of course…some are also controlled by oligopolies, but many of these online games are controlled by independent (European) game developers who are just putting their games on the Internet. And that’s good. So I have to be quick, so I have jus a few comments for the Telecoms Package

I think it is a big risk to start filter content. It is not necessarily the filter itself (I mean people talking about China and stuff like that, but I don’t think in Europe we will have same kind of level) The real problem is the risk of abuse, the risk of misusing the filter technique in order to prioritise your own content. Some of the bigger telcos and some of the ISPs are starting to invest in content, and I personally think it’s good, because I like investors for game development, every investor. But what happens when a strong network provider owns computer games themselves and suddenly they work better on the network than those from the others because they can find out which ones they are. And what happens, when they misuse legal reasons, which maybe have nothing to do with that, to make sure that their products are full across. And then we have a similar situation as we had in the off-line world concerning media distribution.

We always had a problem that there was, of course competition law, competition law… very nice law… but the reality was different. The reality of offline distribution was: package deals for cinema, it was retail business for games and software in the stores, it was everything else than digital distribution. But the Internet is different, Internet is to a certain extent really fair distribution. We should preserve this kind of fairness, because that is good for Europe, because that encourages Europeans to develop European content.

t is very important that we understand that NOW (maybe in the beginning of Internet, when Europe is losing to a little bit way to United States and especially to California, because they were very strong). But now in the second phase, actually Europeans are starting to win the ground, I see it in my constituency, maybe it’s not true for other parts of the Internet, but at least in online games definitely.

I think it should be very clear that the competition between the best games can only go through an open, and free, and not too regulated Internet – I had some thought over the weekend when I already had submitted my slides – so let me just finish with this. There is a saying in Germany: “There is no such thing as being a little bit pregnant”. I think you should consider that when you fight for the freedom of the Internet, because you cannot just say: “yeah…we will allow a little bit of control or make a compromise”.

No! I think that the core of the Internet has to stay free. That is really the most important thing. And having cooperation and discussions, and so on, is very interesting, but it is not really leading to the point. The second thing is, that I really think that this kind of regulation is to a certain degree innovation hostile and again a threat to Europe. You should underline it, when you talk about it, because I think that it is an argument that is always heard in Europe.

Thirdly, I would mention that the French constitutional court ruled out Olivennes based on this debate. And from Germany I can tell you that people always say in Germany: “the French constitutional court only had a problem with the fact that if you are kicked out of the Internet, you still have to pay for your Internet connection.” But as far as I understand it this decision was based on much larger considerations than that and it has actively been used to disinform the public debate.
I think also that you should take it into consideration that this is attacking the Parliament, the European parliament as a body. That the parliament as a body has taken a very, very, very famous decision about the freedom of the Internet. And when it is really starting to overrule, it is going to heart of the European Constitution and you should really also be very clear about that.