At The Esports Conference yesterday, representatives from Telstra revealed that the ISP has been trialling a cloud gaming project in Australia.
The revelation was initially made by Telstra's Anna Lockwood, who heads up market development for the conglomerate's Broadcast Services division. Lockwood initially said that the company was "working on the cloud gaming piece". In a follow-up question, Lockwood mentioned that the company had been working with Microsoft, Ubisoft and a third partner on those trials, but didn't specify what those trials entailed.
When contacted for clarification today, Telstra could not confirm any involvement with Microsoft, Ubisoft, or other gaming publishers. A spokesperson did provide a following statement, confirming the project's existence:
Cloud gaming is gaining increasing attention, such as at last month’s E3 conference, and relates to the industry trend around “edge computing” where infrastructure is located closer to customers and achieves lower network latencies.
At Telstra Labs, we have been investigating what this industry trend means for Telstra, and are excited about the possibilities it may present for our customers. We look forward to providing more details in due course.
It's understood that Telstra's Innovation and IoT lab in Melbourne has played a part in the trials. Given that they were mentioned on the day, I've also contacted Ubisoft and Microsoft for further comment. A Microsoft spokesperson replied that "we have nothing to share at this time", while Ubisoft Australia had not replied at the time of writing.
The comments were made at the conference's final keynote speech, which was headlined by Akamai's media industry global director Nelson Rodriguez. As part of a question about optimising the internet for connecting gamers across continents, Rodriguez added that Akamai had been trialling particular tech that could have impacts on the architecture of video games.
"What it does is push some of the server load out to edge servers for micro-computing, for positional data and a bunch of ways this could be done, for tiny packets to be aggregated at these edge clusters that could potentially make it so you don't have to connect to a European server," Rodriguez said.
The technology was being tested with "a few major gaming companies", which Rodriguez wasn't able to name. He did stress that the tech wouldn't change the laws of physics — or the "tyranny of distance", as it was put by Telstra's Channa Seneviratne, who also sat on the panel. That testing would be completed by the end of the year.
Disclosure: Kotaku Australia is the media partner of The Esports Conference.