Dragon Quest X won’t be the only Square Enix game that makes use of cloud computing. In Japan, Final Fantasy XIII and the PC version of Final Fantasy VII International will stream on to tablets and smartphones using a service called Dive In. I tested the service out and played Final Fantasy XIII on a tablet at Tokyo Game Show.
The controls are a bit awkward on tablets, since all of the buttons are right on top of the game screen. Those two giant squares on the bottom are the left and right analog sticks. A virtual d-pad is above that and the face buttons are on the right. The interface is more cluttered than other Final Fantasy ports, but that was expected since modern consoles have more buttons.
Unfortunately, cloud streaming also makes the controls clumsy. If you try to turn left or right it takes a few seconds for the game to process this and until that happens Lightning will run in the old direction. Grantedm the demo area, the opening of Final Fantasy XIII set in the Cocoon, is linear, but even turning around corners was troublesome. Forget about trying to dodge PSI-COM soldiers—lag makes the controls too unresponsive.
Similar to Netflix, Dive In automatically adjusts the resolution of the game depending how much bandwidth is available. This makes sense on paper, but the demo was constantly changing the resolution from clear graphics one second and then to a blocky unplayable mess the next. Switching the graphics makes the framerate feel constantly in flux. I think the experience would have been better if the graphics just started at a lower resolution and the game didn’t keep trying to upscale them.
It’s unclear if these streaming problems were due to a lack of available bandwidth at the convention center, but it appears Dive In users will need a lot of bandwidth to stream Final Fantasy XIII fluidly.
Why go through any of this and not just play Final Fantasy XIII on PC, PS3 or Xbox 360? Square Enix’s Dive In service could be a solution in Japan where many people spend time playing games while riding public transportation. Instead of playing social games which have risen in popularity, they could play console RPGs from Square Enix’s library. It’s an intriguing idea, but the severs aren’t even strained yet since Dive In doesn’t launch until October and Final Fantasy XIII still has issues.
Right now, Dive In has only been announced for Japan. Square Enix haven’t said whether they intend to bring the streaming service to the rest of the world.