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The Tiny Console Killers Taking On the PS4 and Xbox 720 349

Posted by Soulskill
from the neverending-console-generation dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As the next generation of consoles looms, we've seen a growing trend towards low price, compact alternatives such as the Ouya and GameStick, many of which run on the Android mobile platform. But this article on the trend raises a very good point: through the use of cloud computing and game streaming technology, it's entirely possible these machines will be able to keep pace with the powerhouse technology inside the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox 720, and perhaps even overtake them. After all, if these little boxes can simply stream from powerful servers, how can the stalwarts of gaming keep up?"
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The Tiny Console Killers Taking On the PS4 and Xbox 720

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  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:10PM (#42527581)
    Rural areas. Dialup and satellite internet suck in this application. 3G? Unless one has a large data cap or uses their console infrequently.
  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:10PM (#42527583)

    yea you know what, my shitty internet has trouble streaming from youtube sometimes

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:12PM (#42527599)

    Most people don't have fast enough internet to stream high quality without lag and a lot of people have data caps. If you can't even stream a Netflix movie without it buffering all the time or using up your data how are you supposed to game for hours on end?

  • latency (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:13PM (#42527605)

    We've talked about this a thousand times. After your normal input lag gets sent to a server, the video gets rendered and sent back, your latency is so bad that twitchy games are unplayable. I'm sure it would work fine for slow-paced games, but then... what do you need the server for?

    • Re:latency (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheLink (130905) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:56PM (#42527909) Journal
      The sad thing about latency is the networking bunch may do their jobs fairly well but the input/output hardware and software people often don't or can't.

      So each router hop on the internet might only take 1ms or less whereas a mouse button click or keyboard key press might take 16 milliseconds (debouncing etc) and a crap TV might take another 16-50 milliseconds or even more.

      Of course if you're unlucky to be an ocean or two away from the servers your ping goes up by 200 milliseconds or more. But if you're not, don't be surprised how little latency might be added by the network and server.

      For instance my ping to www.google.com is coming back within 5 milliseconds.

      But if the game server and client bunch leave Nagling on that often adds another semi-random 200+ milliseconds. I personally think Nagling belongs in the past and no longer should be enabled by default - causes more problems than it solves. It is a kludge that does something at the network layer that should more properly be done at the application layer.
      • Re:latency (Score:5, Informative)

        by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @12:05AM (#42527997)

        You need to add data transmission time to the network latency. You need to wait for an entire screen to be transferred before it can be displayed. If it's compressed, there's latency in the compression too. That's why VOIP codecs sacrifice quality for latency, waiting for 1152 samples before encoding an MP3 frame takes too long.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @12:10AM (#42528045) Journal

        Trouble is, unless you've got a decent internet connection(preferrably uncapped, if you plan on doing much 'cloud' gaming), the effective latency is a combination of your basic ping time and the time to transfer whatever data are needed to paint the next frame of video. Your keystrokes going out aren't likely to be all that much bigger than an ICMP packet; but unless you can pull a good 10Mb/s down or better you'll be choosing between pixel soup and slideshow mode...

      • Re:latency (Score:5, Informative)

        by StarWreck (695075) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @12:12AM (#42528063) Homepage Journal
        1ms?!? What fantasy world are you living in? 1ms is what you'll get between 2 computers on your own home LAN. You're not going to get as good as 1ms from your own ISP.
        • Re:latency (Score:4, Interesting)

          by TheLink (130905) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @02:09AM (#42528733) Journal
          I said: "EACH router hop on the internet might only take 1ms"
          And: "my ping to www.google.com is coming back within 5 milliseconds."

          So go figure what fantasy world I live in. Seems pretty real to me. Not everyone uses AOL or whatever you are using.

          See also:
          Tracing route to www.google.com 74.125.135.106
          over a maximum of 30 hops:

              1 <1 ms <1 ms <1 ms redacted
              2 <1 ms 1 ms 1 ms redacted
              3 2 ms 2 ms 2 ms redacted
              4 2 ms 2 ms 2 ms redacted
              5 2 ms 2 ms 2 ms 211.25.27.81
              6 2 ms 1 ms 1 ms 203.121.17.2
              7 3 ms 5 ms 4 ms 211.25.27.122
              8 8 ms 7 ms 8 ms 223.28.2.53
              9 4 ms 4 ms 3 ms 223.28.2.70
            10 4 ms 4 ms 4 ms 211.25.221.2
            11 4 ms 5 ms 5 ms 209.85.242.246
            12 5 ms x 5 ms 209.85.250.237
            13 x x x Request timed out.
            14 5 ms 5 ms 4 ms 74.125.135.106

          Trace complete.

          You can try that yourself and see the ping differences between hops, there will be some anomalies as in mine due to asymmetric routing (packets taking a different path back). Your first hop might be high latency if you are using a 56k or ADSL modem, but the other hops might only have a diff of a few milliseconds.
          • by Jmc23 (2353706)
            I remember in the beginning of the 90's measuring pings in seconds. 3 years ago I had ~400ms in Vancouver. 2 years ago ~220ms in a small town in Mexico. I could hardly believe your claim of 5ms, but i'm getting a pleasant 25ms which is pretty good for Canada.

            With lags cut down, faster rendering, 17mbs instead of 56k, I actually find surfing the web for information more tedious today :( So much high bandwidth garbage out there... though arguably better than Time Cube coloured geocities pages.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The closest IP to your endpoint which you listed is 211.25.27.81 Which is located in Australia (South Brisbane specifically) according to whois records.
            I just ran a traceroute from the Primus Telecom looking glass server in Brisbane, and you're topping 140ms. A trace from Telstra's server in Melbourne shows 134ms right now.

            I'm not familiar with all the companies involved who show up in your specific trace path, but I have a suspicion your ISP has a direct peering circuit with Google reserved just for Google

      • by Firehed (942385)

        Where the hell are you? My ping to Google is 15ms and I'm less than ten miles away from Mountain View.

    • Re:latency (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Iceykitsune (1059892) <stevemon23.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:57PM (#42527927)

      i seem to have beaten borderlands just fine over onlive.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:15PM (#42527621)

    Bandwidth use, control lag etc.

    A 6 year old kid can notice the lag in Lego Batman when used on a Smart TV not in Game mode and be irritated by it.

    Even under the best conditions the lag by the 'games streamed entirely from servers' is worse.

    I'd accept PS1 era graphics and tight controls over 'real-life' quality streamed graphics and horrible lag.

  • I'm not sure the anonymous reader understands how computers work. You can't just stream CPU power. Plus, one of the main reasons for using a console is that it "just works", and having to have it connected to the internet whenever you play would be a huge pain.

    • Well, not really. Consoles have built in wireless these days. I don't have to think about putting my PS3 online - it's online by default.
    • Technically if you had enough CPU power and bandwidth to get a near real time video feed. So where you send you often 1 byte command and then you get your updated screen withing a human response level of time 1/120 of a second. Then you can stream CPU power. As all the hard work of game physics, graphics rendering... Can be done else were.

      We do not have such bandwidth (affordable) yet for this, but it could happen.

  • I don't understand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:20PM (#42527659)
    The console-killer always has been the good old PC. A reasonably specced-out PC with a mid-range graphics card is far, far better than any console. But nobody listens to me. Nobody loves me.
    • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:48PM (#42527863)

      The console-killer always has been the good old PC. A reasonably specced-out PC with a mid-range graphics card is far, far better than any console. But nobody listens to me.

      Well yes and no.

      You may not be old enough to remember but back before the Playstation and Xbox PC-pretenders turned up consoles were about casual, accessible games like Mario Kart. PC's were about in depth games, shooters like Doom and adventure games like Star Control 2. Then the PS/XB pretenders came a long and pretended they could be "hardcore" gaming machines. This was until Nintendo released the Wii and proved that consoles were about casual, accessible games like Mario Kart and made money hand over fist whilst it took the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 half a decade to achieve profitability (the PS3 still hasn't recouped it's investment yet).

      Now mobile is muscling in on the casual game and this is where the "traditional" console is doomed. Casual audiences will be attracted to the cheapness, ease of use and multiplayer capabilities of the tablet-consoles (Tabsoles, Conslets?) and "hardcore" games will come home, back to the PC.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Consoles were also arcade-at-home devices. The funny controllers (joysticks, more than 2 buttons), and boxes with graphics that rivaled the arcade machines.
        • by mjwx (966435)

          Consoles were also arcade-at-home devices. The funny controllers (joysticks, more than 2 buttons), and boxes with graphics that rivaled the arcade machines.

          Exactly, the casual market grew out of the kinds of people who went to arcades. This is why old acrade games like Glaga, Tetris and Street Fighter remain console favourites.

          And there's nothing wrong with that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Seriously? Street Fighter? Final Fantasy? Romance of the Three Kingdoms? No More Heroes? The World Ends with You? *Dragon Quest*?

        None of these games have "depth?" I think what you mean is "ridiculously thick manual and awful UI."

        Anything that can plug into a display and spit sound out of it somehow can be full of casual or "teh hardcorez" gaming anyway. The PC, for example, is nothing but a final resting place for casual games and shovel ware and Pokemon is a ridiculously deeper game than it lets on.

        If the

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        Now mobile is muscling in on the casual game and this is where the "traditional" console is doomed. Casual audiences will be attracted to the cheapness, ease of use and multiplayer capabilities of the tablet-consoles (Tabsoles, Conslets?) and "hardcore" games will come home, back to the PC.

        I've got a PC (which, thanks to my job is kept pretty up to date with eng samples from intel, amd and nvidia) and I've got an XBox and PS3, i play games on all of them (probably the ps3 not as much mainly because i prefer the xbox controller) and I don't see any reason why I would abandon the consoles to play on the PC exclusively even though it is a pretty decent PC. They all have their place.

        I don't have a Wii because I'm not much into those sorts of games - I have a Kinect and I'm not really a fan of tha

        • by mjwx (966435)

          I've got a PC (which, thanks to my job is kept pretty up to date with eng samples from intel, amd and nvidia) and I've got an XBox and PS3, i play games on all of them (probably the ps3 not as much mainly because i prefer the xbox controller) and I don't see any reason why I would abandon the consoles to play on the PC exclusively even though it is a pretty decent PC. They all have their place.

          The problem you have is that you are not the average console player.

          Consoles are primarily played by casual players. The Wii outsold the Xbox and Playstation 2:1 until they both dropped their prices to cater for the casual market. The average console player plays Mario Kart, Wii Sports, Rock Band and the like. The top selling game on the Xbox 360 is Kinect Adventures, Gran Turismo on the PS3 which is really an arcade game.Without the casual market, consoles cant compete against PC's which are more profit

          • by exomondo (1725132)

            And the best selling game for the PC? The Sims 2! The second best selling game for the PC? The Sims! Not something I would consider to be 'hardcore' gaming titles. The PC looks a lot more casual gaming than consoles, certainly don't see anything to suggest consoles are more casual-gaming focussed.

    • It used to be though to get the reasonably specced PC you had to spend $800 - 1000. When the PS3 / X360 and before their release that was true. $300 (or whatever it was) for a sound card just to place Wing Commander 2 with voice pack ..... ah the memories

      I'm a PS3 owner because of the Blu-Ray player, and I'm a fan of a few Sony exclusive game franchises.

      I think most people buy platform X or Y not on technical merits but on system-exclusive games. If the next-gen don't have any system exclusives that are wor

    • by samkass (174571) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @01:16AM (#42528425) Homepage Journal

      The console-killer always has been the good old PC. A reasonably specced-out PC with a mid-range graphics card is far, far better than any console. But nobody listens to me. Nobody loves me.

      The console killer was the iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, etc. Apple sells as many iDevices each year than all the consoles that have ever been made, and has more games available in the App Store for its platform than for all consoles that have ever existed combined. They just announced their 40 billionth unique (non-upgrade, non-redownload) app sale, most of them games. Consoles and PC game rigs are both niches now.

  • Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:22PM (#42527667)

    They won't keep up.

    Mommy may want to buy some shitty Ouya console cause its cheap, but little Jimmy won't want to play this shitty half assed games on it.

    Seriously, do you think people WANT to phone quality graphics on a 60" TV? No, they don't even want to see it on a 15" laptop.

    Anyone who thinks streamed games have chance hasn't played a game. Even for turn based games, lag that is noticeable sucks ass, and no ones internet is lag free all the time. Even if the last mile doesnt' lag, there are plenty of other hops to cause problems and introduce lag.

    Consoles, current or next gen, have no worries at all about being beat out by a Gamestick or Ouya console, local or streamed. Anyone who thinks this is utterly disconnected from reality.

    • by theurge14 (820596)

      Did we learn nothing from the Nintendo Wii?

      You better believe mommy and daddy and grandma and grandpa and little Suzy will play "phone quality graphics" on a 60" TV. They've been playing Wii Bowling for years on it.

    • Mommy may want to buy some shitty Ouya console cause its cheap, but little Jimmy won't want to play this shitty half assed games on it.

      Ha ha, you're funny. And nobody is playing a game on their phone right now. Oh wait, *you* are! What a dick.

    • OP is correct. A good hard dose of truth! Though, personally, I think the Ouya has a chance of giving the casual low-fi game sector (where Nintendo is currently king) a big shake up. Just don't pretend that it is even close to a solution for serious gaming. Maybe in 3+ years when mobile graphics are stepped up a couple of notches.
    • by tibit (1762298)

      I guess kids these days just don't have imagination :(

      When you stream a game, it doesn't have to mean that you're streaming what's on the screen directly. In a game engine, there may well be content that's expensive to calculate, but has very relaxed latency requirements and can be essentially treated as pre-caching of sorts. What you do is look at the client and look for where it ails, and basically offload stuff that may be precomputed a bit in advance. For low-latency GUI, you still have a low-end GPU, b

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:24PM (#42527679)

    They claim one of their selling points is the large amount of existing Android games available.

    Can someone tell me how I'm going to play a touch-screen based game on a controller based TV console?

    • by bfandreas (603438)
      Easily. The better ones already have controller support. I've hooked up a PS3 controller to my android tablet. All you need is Bluetooth or USB.
      Also there is DosBox + Bluetooth mouse for your Master of Magic and Dungeon Keeper needs.
      And with the newly announced SoC you can have independent display on your tablet and your HDMI connected viewing screen. Which sounds awefully like that new Nintendo thing.
      All the standard stuff has already been there for some time.
      Fun fact: I even give presentations with m
      • These are not tablets you can plug in to your TV, they have no screen.
        To play a game with out a touch screen requires complete support - menus etc., not just game controls.

    • Price too. If I want an OUYA Console, it'll cost me $NZ215. I can just walk down the my local store and pick up an xbox 360 for $248, a wii for $268 or a PS3 for $349.

      They're all in the same price bracket, apart from the PS3 being a little high and the OUYA not existing yet and has only shipped dev kits. GameStick also doesn't exist. None of them have any compatible games either as the entire catalog of Android games require a touch screen.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      My 5 year old plays Total War Battles Shogun on a tablet-touch and a PC-mouse. He play whichever of daddy's devices is not in use, with no particular preference for one over the other.
  • I'm tired of reading bullshit articles day after day from idiot bloggers. What makes systems like xbox and ps3 so powerful isn't necessarily their hardware specs but their dedication. Anything with stock android isn't good for jackshit, and will force you to buy better and better hardware just to make it go faster, a problem the ps3 and xbox gaming consoles excel at.

    • Xbox 360 and PS3 aren't powerful, they never were, they're actually pretty shitty.

      • by kamapuaa (555446)

        They're seven year old hardware, where the games ultimately look about the same [youtube.com] (if not as good) as with a modern PC. While of course the PC would win the Pepsi challenge, it's a hell of a lot smaller difference than (say) PS2 v. PS1.

        • They were both shitty the day they came out, then they got worse.

        • They're seven year old hardware, where the games ultimately look about the same [youtube.com] (if not as good) as with a modern PC. While of course the PC would win the Pepsi challenge, it's a hell of a lot smaller difference than (say) PS2 v. PS1.

          I'm a game developer. It takes far less time and effort to make a cross platform game with features coded & content authored to the lowest common denominator -- or average common denominator then slightly improve or dumb down features / fidelity (except for textures, those are pretty easy because resampling can be automated). The PC has FAR more memory than the 360 or PS3, yet those Witcher2 models had the EXACT same vertices and animations; It's really noticeable in the hair. So, the only real diff

  • by rs1n (1867908) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:32PM (#42527743)
    Even with a cloud network that comes equipped with millions of graphics cards, I just don't see how they are going to get around the bandwidth bottleneck. Unless the only games being offered are board games, I just don't see how anything like an FPS being played via cloud computing due to obvious things like: 1. bandwidth needed to download the images to update the gamer's display 2. network latency causing input delays Even with great compression algorithms, you're still looking at a problem of somehow refreshing the display at a minimum of 30 fps. I cannot help but speculate you would need either large bandwidth with low latency or special hardware to uncompress the image stream. But the most important question is, what the hell happens when either the cloud is down, or when you lose your internet connection?
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      MMORPGs are "cloud gaming" in that the game is hosted online elsewhere. Seems to work for the most popular game ever.

      And it always amuses me how so many on slashdot are narrow-minded Luddites. "If I can't think of a solution, then it's impossible." A flash game takes less data than the image that results from it. It isn't hard to stream data to render, then render it in a simple manner. You have to have a video card of some type, and so far, most run android games, rather than "cloud" games. None of
      • MMORPGs are "cloud gaming" in that the game is hosted online elsewhere. Seems to work for the most popular game ever.

        Only the game-logic is running on the server, and even then not all of it actually is; the reason why so many wall-hacks and such work so well is exactly because the logic for those runs on the client. The graphics itself is NOT streamed, so your comparison is utterly silly.

        It isn't hard to stream data to render, then render it in a simple manner. You have to have a video card of some type, and so far, most run android games, rather than "cloud" games. None of the current (or near future ones) run remotely. They all run on local hardware, so I'm not sure why so many put the "must run remotely" requirement on it, then misrepresent what that would take, so not only are they arguing something that isn't true, they are doing so with very flawed arguments. Why not just say "I irrationally hate change." That way people wouldn't waste time actually trying to inform the irrational Luddites.

        Uh, the article itself literally talks about it, not Slashdotters. The article suggests that games -- including all their rendering -- happens on the server and the end-result is being streamed, so yes, "must run remotely" becomes a hard

        • by AK Marc (707885)

          The graphics itself is NOT streamed, so your comparison is utterly silly.

          What current or proposed gaming device streams graphics from the cloud?

          Uh, the article itself literally talks about it, not Slashdotters. The article suggests that games -- including all their rendering -- happens on the server and the end-result is being streamed, so yes, "must run remotely" becomes a hard requirement. Alas, your comparison to MMORPGs already showed you have no idea what you're talking about.

          I read the article, and I didn't get from it what you assert it says.

          It mentioned streaming games from a PC (not the cloud) and it mentioned Android games (none of which are currently or proposed to stream graphics over the cloud). So yes, please point out where in the 3 links it mentions a console or game that streams remotely generated graphics from the cloud (not a PC with hints about future "cloud" capabilities). I don't see what

  • There is no way in hell they will call it Xbox 720. It would be a terrible marketing.
    • It's Microsoft. Do the words "Zune" and "Squirt" ring a bell?
    • There is no way in hell they will call it Xbox 720. It would be a terrible marketing.

      And Microsoft never does that. Oh wait... Seinfeld... butt wiggle... bald headed men squirting... oh my.

    • by Agent ME (1411269)

      As opposed to 360?

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Xbox 365? Xbox 2? Xbox (branded "the new Xbox" in stores, a la iPad)?
  • Worst idea ever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @12:02AM (#42527973)
    So it's like the current games but with 100x more financial reason to shut down the multiplayer servers after a couple years. That sounds like a great idea! Just ask PC gamers how much they love that.
  • VT05, now that was a real console.
  • Escalation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fredprado (2569351) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @12:08AM (#42528027)
    That is one of the most stupid applications for cloud computing. Centralizing processor hungry processes. Can anyone take a guess how badly it will become as this escalates?
    • Considering how game makers dump servers ASAP when a game's sales stop, I would say it'd do quite the opposite of escalate.
  • After all, if these little boxes can simply stream from powerful servers, how can the stalwarts of gaming keep up?"

    By *not* streaming from servers. I like the idea of turning a thing on and start to play, even if the service has gone out of bussiness.

  • After all, if these little boxes can simply stream from powerful servers, how can the stalwarts of gaming keep up?"

    By building their own systems utilizing their larger amounts of revenue, infrastructure investments and personnel resources?

  • I'm looking forward with tremendous anticipation to new products from Sony and Msft. I will be on the edge of my seat watching those two paragons of evil beat each other to a pulp again and lose more $billions. A Tweedledee vs Tweedledum extreme mud wrestling cage fight. And I need to see if they can manage to burn a few houses down between them this time, especially since Microsoft got oh so close last time.

  • This 'cloud gaming' stuff seems severely overrated; but there might be another way in which cheapie consoles do cause real trouble for their more expensive brethren:

    Because(with the historical exception of Nintendo) consoles have been sold at a loss(and have also generally been somewhat odd ducks, with a fair amount of custom architecture thrown in), with the economic logic being built around massive volume sales of officially blessed games that pay a tithe for the privilege, the present sales model is only

  • When will people understand that there is no console killer. Just like TV didnt kill radio. Computers and consoles didnt kill TV. Consoles didnt kill PC's. Consoles are good at what they do and fill that niche market. Nevermind that the devices mentioned are consoles themselves. If Ouya can produce quality blockbuster titles then it will do well, if not, it will most likely go the way of the Jaguar, 3DO, Virtua Boy and other failed consoles. If not then it will fill its own niche market but never truly comp
  • Sure, cloud gaming can work. Despite what people may say, OnLive works, and some people have a good time playing on it, but those people are knowingly making a sacrifice to play their game on OnLive. Cloud gaming will be fine, but even the tiniest lag is a step backwards. It's adding one more thing on top of all the other things that cause lag, and cause a game to feel bad.

    Call of Duty has some of the fastest response times for any game -- that means when you pull the trigger, it feels like you instantly

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      OnLive works? arrr didn't they go bankrupt because it DIDN'T work, as in people didn't want it?
  • streaming will need a lot of data centers all over the place to keep lag down. And even then people in some areas will be left out. Also 3G / 4G lag sucks.

  • only hackers buy a console for the hardware. Everyone else buys them for the games.
  • Dear God, this is the worst version (or a contender for it) of how things are supposed to work with the internet.

    It seriously ranks up there with people who repeatedly stream the same YouTube clip or NetFlix movie over and over again. You're supposed to download things locally, then use them; not stream / tether them to a server. Why? Because it's the equivalent of driving your car to the super market to buy a single can of coke, driving back home, drinking it, then driving back to the store again...and so

  • This will fail just like every other cheap android console solution. These people don't get console gaming. They assume consoles are just cheap PCs so therefore making the cheapest POS equates to a win and it won't.

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