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Gaming

GameRail's Gone

12:40 PM -- From the company's Website:

It is with deep regret to announce that the GameRail network has been discontinued at this time. Thank you to the gamers who have participated in the GameRail trial and support of its development as we worked to solve the issues of latency and network quality and their impact on gaming. We believe that latency and network quality will continue to affect the gaming experience and while we are still believers in the GameRail concept, the market does not appear to be ready to support a standalone network for gaming at this time.


Have another look at Craig's profile of GameRail from a year ago to get a sense of how they thought the market would develop. Perhaps it wasn't the wrong business, but it was the wrong business model.

GameRail's not the only recent story of a service provider of sorts backing off the hardcore gamer market. Verizon did, too, when it stopped rebranding a gaming server service, and it no longer makes a big marketing push for FiOS at gaming industry events. (See Verizon's Got Game).

Verizon, however, did make a nice business for itself in delivering casual games at a low price, via flat-fee rentals.

But given what hardcore gamers spend on hardware and soda, other service providers will undoubtedly try to appeal to their need for speed (or their want for differentiation, in the absence of skills). What kinds of services do you see cropping up next for the gaming gods?

— Phil Harvey, Editor, Light Reading

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:42:52 PM
re: GameRail's Gone
I think the 3rd point is probably the most relevant Craig. Although the first one is a factor.

Let me add my context a bit. From an MMORPG perspective, I have guildees who raid on dial-up and do okay. They do not have as complete a gaming experience as those with broadband connections, but it works.

Lag (aka latency sensitivity) is more important the more PvP (Player versus Player) than PvE (Player versus Environment) the game is. So, FPS (First Person Shooter) and RTS (Real Time Simulation) games are generally more lag centric than MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games).

The FPS and RTS servers are generally free and games are limited in scope from one on one (like say a Madden Game) to small team on small team (I have been in 12 on 12 Counterstrike games). From that pool, you then are only get the hardest of hardcore gamers. One big issue is that gaming associations (guilds, clans, etc.) are geographically dispersed. My own current WoW (World of Warcraft) guild has members in Israel, the UK, all time zones in the US and Australia. There are groups that are more time zone focussed but generally they are not even as packed as a city.

So, Game Rail would have to have servers for the most popular of games - CoD4, Unreal Tournament, Madden, GTA, and WoW.

Another WHOLE set of problems for them is the Console market. I would think one might be better served with an infrastructure for X-Box Live (like an enhanced service) as at least that is a market with a bit of consistency. Sony has an equivalent service.

To set my own MMO experience....I have been with this guild through EQ, EQ2, and WoW. We were a heavy duty raiding guild in EQ ( 4 hours a night on weekdays plus 10 hours or so on Saturday). We were pretty hardcore in EQ2, and have moved into a more casual atmosphere in WoW. We tend to PvP a bit (pre-mades for the BGs and guild arena teams) as well as 3 days or so of raiding.

I am a Comcast cable connection and have no problem with bandwidth or latency. My last real issue was that games had outgrown my old PCs video capability. So, I bought one of the new Dell gaming "laptops" (for those with a huge lap - its more of a luggable).

My son can run CS (Counterstrike), WoW, or pretty much anything else at the same time and we are still good on bandwidth. The only issue I had was when he was updating his WoW client while I was trying to PvP. WoW uses Bittorrent to P2P its download and it was really taxing my network and cable connection.

seven
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:42:52 PM
re: GameRail's Gone Too bad it didn't work out for these guys. Some guesses as to what it means:

1. The hardcore audience (the ones GameRail would cater to) is too small a percentage of the populace, scattered around the U.S.?

2. The bottleneck for games remains less the broadband connection, and more the PC hardware in your house. Plus, it's more fun to shop for cool flashy graphics boards than to subscribe to a network.

3. Games already go out of their way to cut down the amount of bandwidth they use. Maybe GameRail faced a chicken-and-egg question of waiting for someone to develop a game that needed this kind of network.

But I'll admit, I'm not a gamer myself. I'd be interested to hear what real MMORPG players think.
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:42:45 PM
re: GameRail's Gone brookseven,

Interesting post. I'm a casual console user. Guitar Hero. On the Wii. Badly. Don't even know how to turn on the WiFi capability so I can't use my console to shop for stupid stuff online. (Wii Shirts. Please.)

But...

I do follow PC gaming a little and it's obscene how fast people chew through hardware. I would have always thought that MMORPGs would have exhausted bandwidth connections, but all they really seem to do is overheat motherboards, fry graphics cards, etc.
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:42:43 PM
re: GameRail's Gone
One of the reasons for that (and I don't have these issues as I am sure when I am done with this you will surmise) is that most hardcore gamers don't have a lot of money and high end gaming systems are expensive. Where people pay $500 for run of the mill PCs and $2000 for top of the line, a high end gaming system will run $5000.

So, people scrimp buy the parts themselves off Newegg and the like. They underspend particularly on cooling and power. They also overclock the bejesus out of their systems. So, they have lots of failures. As I can afford brand name, I (knock on wood) have had fewer problems than most.

seven
Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 3:42:42 PM
re: GameRail's Gone Gamers are insane. A friend told me last night he's cutting back on game time (by not playing on weekday mornings) to save himself for the new Grand Theft Auto. He's estimating 4 to 6 weeks of immersion once it's released.

I'm now sitting in a conference on radio base stations. The speaker from DoCoMo was just talking about their LTE (a.k.a. 4G) trials. They've tested >200 Mbit/s downlink peak rate per sector to a moving vehicle. The thing that got him (a senior RAN engineer/exec) most excited? GĒō The ability to play multi-player, low-latency, games while sitting in the back of a van.

I wonder how much screen time a human can handle. I read that in Korea people have died from gaming overdose.

yarn 12/5/2012 | 3:42:41 PM
re: GameRail's Gone Powerlevelling characters and grinding gold for a job is insane IMO
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:42:34 PM
re: GameRail's Gone re: "The thing that got him (a senior RAN engineer/exec) most excited? GĒō The ability to play multi-player, low-latency, games while sitting in the back of a van."

That does sound pretty cool, actually. I wonder what a network operator could do -- besides making loads of bandwidth available for very little money -- that would truly appeal to the hard core crowd.

Once they latch onto something, they do tend to buy in as a group and I take it that they're pretty brand loyal, too.

ph
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:42:33 PM
re: GameRail's Gone Newegg rocks. I'm a hardware idiot and I was able to build my own computer using a two year-old issue of PC Gamer and about $800 in parts from Newegg.

I did spring for the larger processor fan and case fans. My machine sounds like an aircraft carrier, but it doesn't seize up and vomit like my work PC every time I do anything involving video or photos.
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