Even with Steam sales and low-end PC builds, gaming isn’t a cheap hobby. For the last five years or so, different companies have been trying to lower the barrier to getting people into gaming with services like OnLive and Gaikai (which was purchased by Sony and rebranded as PlayStation Now), but there are a few stumbling blocks in the way. Microsoft Research may have just tackled one of the big ones.
According to a paper from Microsoft Research, the team has found a way to predictively render frames before an event occurs in a game and then, based on your inputs, deliver the correct frames. According to the paper, this can mask up to a quarter second of latency. The method combines a variety of technologies, including future input prediction, time shifting, and misprediction compensation, into a project they’re currently calling DeLorean. According to the paper, users who tested the service even with action games like Fable and Doom 3 preferred it over other cloud-based gaming technologies currently on the market.
With Sony working on getting PlayStation Now ready for prime time, it’s no surprise to hear Microsoft working on its own product. We could see this surface as a game rental service on Xbox Live or a way to bring console-quality gaming to places like the many Windows tablets on the market. Of course, like PlayStation Now, any service Microsoft were to introduce is dependent on a fast, steady broadband connection with a non-existent data transfer cap, something that could be a stumbling block in the United States where telecom companies tend to cap data transfers and resist updating infrastructure. It could, however, be a way into markets where broadband is common and the dominant platform is the PC.
It’ll likely be a couple years before we hear anything about this as a product, and by that time it won’t be named after a clunky, time-traveling, stainless steel car.