Bungie.net launches Render to Video feature for putting game videos on the web
Bungie game studios has just launched a public Beta of their new Render to Video feature. (I've been participating in the Beta.)
The new feature is essentially a YouTube for gaming, allowing gamers (with one mouse-click) to put videos of their favourite gaming moments online. It has been deployed on Bungie.net, the web portal for Halo 3, the market-leading game for the Xbox 360 games console. Videos can be displayed in HD, or SD like the example below.
Players have been looking forward to this; it's a great feature. It's also very interesting commercially and technically. It's a landmark step in the evolution of interactive entertainment. The dividing line between the experience on the web and that on the gaming platform has been further blurred.
Until now, surprisingly, there has been no easy way to get videos onto the web from games played on a console. The prevalent method involves purchasing expensive video capture hardware and setting it up to work with both console and a PC, before uploading to a generic content sharing service like YouTube. Understandably, the average casual gamer simply doesn't bother. Yet every gamer has experienced memorable moments which could be fun to share, especially in multiplayer gaming.
Bungie.net was already leading the way in web functionality and features for games, pioneering far ahead of its competitors. It's by far the best game web site, by any measure. The web site provides access to extremely rich relational metadata from every game, including statistics, charts, heat-maps, medals, and assets like high-res images, browsable and searchable. Every player can have a detailed service record on the web site. No other game developer provides anything that even comes close to this, either on the console or on the web.
As well as screenshots and stats, Halo 3 has always automatically recorded literally everything that the player does in any game. Videos can be clipped, edited, shot from different angles, and played, producing HD videos, in the Theatre feature that comes with the game. Gamers have always been able to share Halo 3 videos over Xbox Live and download and play them on their console. Making the video content available online was the logical next step.
It's an exciting time for gaming and interactive entertainment. Next month we have the E3 Expo 2009, and we're anticipating news and announcements that will shape the future of this multi-billion-dollar industry.
I've been thinking about using XNA to create a simple app for the Xbox to make use of the new video content, but I'll need permission first -- watch this space!
Example: video clip from a Halo 3 multi-player game
12 May 2009