Sega has been working on a new kind of platform dubbed Fog Gaming that could potentially reduce the latencies players get when playing online.
According to a column published in the latest issue of Famitsu magazine, the research and development division of Sega has found (via FrontlineJP) a rather simple and low-cost solution to eliminate two main problems that impact online connectivity: the physical distance between players and data centers.
What Fog Gaming proposes is to repurpose arcade machines as data centers across a country for ultra-low latencies. Those same arcade machines will serve as a new technical backbone and at an extremely cheap price. Instead of setting up new data centers the traditional way which comes at a high price, Fog Gaming intends to utilize the processors and graphics cards inside arcade machines to become additional nodes for a region-wide grid. Hence, not only reducing the physical distance between players but data centers as well.
While it would be difficult to convert existing machines, Sega is considering developing next-generation arcade system boards to be able to adapt to this purpose, which would mean installing new machines in arcades would be synonymous with installing cloud machines. This would also give arcades more purpose as cloud data centers when closed or when there are few customers.
The thing to note is that Fog Gaming, if deemed viable, will be rolled out for only Japan. That’s the only country still maintaining a strong arcade culture. Sega reportedly owns or is affiliated with around 200 arcade centers in Japan. The publisher also plans to extend the scope of Fog Gaming by bringing in other game publishers and companies. The end goal here is to not only use repurposed arcade machines as data centers but also virtual machines for businesses, computations, rendering, and such.
Sega believes that Fog Gaming can essentially reduce online lag to under just 1ms. That would certainly be something Japanese players would love to have when going online.