(Source: Warner Bros. Pictures)
Warface is free to play, aims to build buzz for Crytek's latest cloud-based engine

The future of gaming is in the cloud -- or at least that's what Crytek's latest release "Warface" hints at.  While the game will be available in traditional form on the Xbox One in 2014, for now gamers have access to it via their browser.

Crytek -- well known for its CryENGINE game software and Crysis, a game designed to showcase the graphical might of CryENGINE -- has shifted gears in a major way with the release of CryENGINE 3.0.  Rather than focusing singular on squeezing the most computation out of your enthusiast PC, CryENGINE 3.0's goal is to open gaming to the masses, by moving it partially to offline rendering and in-browser gaming.

While online gaming, or even 3D online gaming for that matter, is nothing new really, Warface is perhaps the first true cloud-based AAA PC FPS.

To that end Crytek has launched a new hub dubbed "GFACE" where users will play multiplayer first person shooter (FPS) games and interact.  The hub -- and the games inside (CryENGINE 3.0/Warface) -- require a browser with the latest in web rendering technology.  Hence currently only Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Chrome and The Mozilla Foundation's Firefox are support; Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTbrand-new Internet Explorer 11 and Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) Safari are not currently compatible.

The good news, though, is that Warface is entirely free.  How Crytek plans to monetize this cloud giveaway remains to be seen, but traditionally a significant portion of its revenue came from licensing its CryENGINE to third parties, so this may be more of a proof of concept to build a buzz, with the payoff being third party licensing pickups.

You can run GFACE/Warface on a rather minimalist hardware spec -- a 2.0 GHz CPU, 1.5 GB of RAM, and decade old video card (think Radeon X1950), thanks to the cloud doing most of the dirty work.  Still gamers are advised to get slightly newer systems, to allow for higher framerates and more graphical niceties.  All of this indicates that Warface should run very well on laptops -- unlike Crytek's earlier hardware-crunching products, such as last year's best-selling Crysis 3.

The game has four classes:


... with some classes like engineer taking a couple of hours of gameplay to unlock.

The new title was developed heavily by Crytek's new Seoul, South Korea office.  Yohan Kim, Managing Director of Crytek Seoul cheers, "Crytek’s proven pedigree with its multi-award winning AAA FPS games combined with our own cutting-edge technology CryENGINE® 3 and our dedicated team of experts makes us confident Warface will revolutionize the genre and become the next generation in online FPS."

Warface wide
Warface is just the latest app to make the leap to the cloud.

This new engine from Crytek is the latest in a disruptive trend of software jumping to the cloud.  Microsoft has seen significant traction to date pushing its Office users towards its cloud based Office 365 solution.  And while Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBEshowed the dark side of the cloud when its user information trove was breached, it also has been pushing hard to move its users online.

There are many advantages to the cloud -- cross platform compatibility and easier access to your data on the go.  But there are also downsides, aside from pure security concerns.  For hardware makers it's a mix bag as the cloud is minimizing the value of client-side hardware, making consumers likely to upgrade their laptops and desktops at a slower pace; but by the same token the cloud requires lots of new server hardware on the enterprise side, so it's not all bad news for OEMs.  Access in the case of internet outage or when traveling through areas with unreliable internet is another major issue.

But like it or not, the cloud is gaining a lot of momentum and now Crytek is looking to become the marquee face of cloud gaming.

Sources: Warface [homepage], [Press Release]

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