Intel’s Matt Ployhar on the Direction of Gaming

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Matt Ployhar is a strategic planner for Intel’s Software Services Group and the President of the Open Gaming Alliance. In this interview from SIGGRAPH 2014 Matt and Steve Waskul talk about the direction of gaming and the devices people are using today and will use in the future to enjoy their games.

The interview begins with Matt talking about how exciting it is to see all the various form factors becoming more mobile. Even workstations are becoming more mobile over time. A lot of pieces go into this equation. Hardware (processors, motherboards, memory etc.) and software (operating systems, graphics APIs, applications) are coming together to help create the new smaller thinner devices consumers love.

Matt likes to call these inflection points. We’ve seen where we’ve been and what we have today he says. Now it’s time to figure out where we can go in the future. He believes that as we move forward you’ll see a lot of devices that complement each other. So, while mobile devices could replace a PC for one person, for another these will be complimentary devices and they will have both a PC and a mobile device or two. He also believes that we’ll continue to see a convergence trend with devices coming together so that we can “do more with less”. Hardware and operating systems will continue to change and evolve also to provide the required functionalities. “Smaller, lighter, thinner, faster…. It’s cool!”

As the interview moves forward Steve brings up the possibilities that arise when people have the ability to experience games and applications across multiple devices. Matt responds saying there is a huge movement between game developers to create experiences that work across multiple platforms because developers today really can’t afford to just put all their eggs in one basket (console, smart phone, tablet or PC). In the ideal circumstance you ideally want to do all of it at the same time. With game engines striving to be more cross-platform right out of the gate, it makes it a lot easier today to license a cross-platform capable engine, create the content once and then bring it to market across different form factors regardless of what OS might be powering it.

Next Matt explains a bit about Intel’s wireless display technology Intel® WiDi designed to allow you to stream movies or games from your Intel® Core™ processor-based tablet, Ultrabook, or 2 in 1 devices to your HDTV or home theater etc. (You need an Intel® WiDi enabled device for sending the signal and and Intel® WiDi certified receiver device to make this work). He makes the point that as more and more capabilities are built into devices that we’ll find this will be common place among devices and it will be easier to share your devices screen with other displays at high resolutions.

Moving forward Steve asks Matt his thoughts on whether he feels that this is one of the more exciting times with the way things are coming together and if we’re at a point where we can turn a corner and radically change the user experience. In his opinion, Matt feels that we’re in the most interesting time ever. New devices are entering the landscape and everyone wants immersive experiences on them. He points out that at this time there isn’t one “super-player” who owns it all so there is opportunity. And, when you see opportunity, there’s usually a tendency to see a lot more innovation happening. He explains that everyone is excited and fired up over this and that leads to fantastic innovations happening that you wouldn’t see otherwise.

With the tools available today you’re seeing a lot of Indie developers and smaller startups getting into the fray and that’s something that Matt’s excited about. Steve points out that this makes it a lot easier for developers to express their creativity and pull together the tools they need to create some amazing experiences. Matt agrees that it’s incredible. There’s talent out there and now with all the tools available, (the advances in the game engines, graphics hardware, graphics APIs and the workstations used for digital content creation) we’re coming to a point to where the limiting factor is really what a developer’s imagination is. Matt thinks that’s amazing and we agree.

Matt next discusses his thoughts on VR and the different headsets coming to market. Certainly they do have the potential to provide a much more engaging experience with users feeling like they are “in the game”. Still, he thinks that success in the marketplace will ultimately boil down to the content and the cost. But, with innovation and competition, it will be great to see what’s around the corner.

The final topic of conversation is what’s happening at the Open Gaming Alliance. Matt explains that there are a lot of big players involved like Intel, Alienware, Capcom, Logitech and Razor (to name a few) and smaller Indie gaming companies as well. They are about working to create and maintain an open gaming ecosystem he says. From his description it sounds like all are welcome and even non-members are invited to engage. We wish them success as they work to help build awareness and do advocacy on behalf of the industry.