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Gaikai Cloud-Based Gaming Service: Onlive Killer?

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Currently in beta, Gaikai will let gamers try out all sorts of games and software – Eve Online, Mario Kart, WoW, Photoshop – with only a browser and Flash as requirements. No need to install anything. Sound familiar? The truth is that Gaikai and OnLive are quite similar: both are cloud-based gaming services – their servers handle everything from hardware to software, theoretically enabling users to play the latest games over a broadband connection without the need to have the latest hardware or even the game itself. But Perry claims that Gaikai has a more palatable marketing strategy.

Gaikai

Co-founder Dave Perry says that Gaikai wants to work closely with game publishers, whereas Onlive’s marketing strategy is to go up against the console makers. OnLive recently revealed their pricing scheme: $15 a month, aside from the cost of purchasing games. Perry thinks that OnLive will kill itself. Gaikai on the other hand, seems to be more of a way for publishers to let customers try their games using as little equipment as possible –  an internet connection, a browser and Flash. Watch Dean Takahashi interview Perry as the latter fiddles with Gaikai (very weird name by the way).

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So what is Gaikai’s push? Perry revealed a bit of the company’s plans in an interview with Eurogamer. The plan is for Nintendo, Sony et al to leverage Gaikai’s technology to let users try games for free, again using only a browser and Flash: “Say you’re going to Nintendo.com. We’ll actually look at your geographical location, see we’ve got a server near you, and pop up a button that says ‘play Mario Kart now’. You click the button, up pops Mario Kart and you can play it… Our objective is to make you fall in love with Nintendo and have a great time playing Mario Kart. And this is the big difference. We’re not running the games, it’s the publishers running the games. We supply the service to them to let them do this.” But at the same time, as you can clearly see in this demo, Gaikai is also considering something very similar to what OnLive is offering:

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So… it seems that Gaikai offers a much simpler interface than OnLive and that the company is offering their tech to game publishers. But the question here is: will there be a dedicated Gaikai service for gamers similar to what was shown above, or will the tech be found embedded in publisher’s websites? Or will it be both? And if there will be a Gaikai service what then makes it different, marketing wise, from OnLive? So many questions.





Comments (11):

  1. XpAcErX says:

    Gaikai sounds like one big Demo service. Wii games and other non-graphically intense games would be the extent of it. I dont see this going anywhere Onlive at least will have HD games. The real trick is getting all the vendors on board other wise these services just become another PC gaming service. Onlive wont have Killzone 2, MGS4, Infamous, Uncharted 2, MAG, etc. Why because they are not PC games.

    • lambert v. says:

      I agree. Until the day comes when there’s only one gaming platform, OnLive et al won’t be able to serve all types of games. Take Wii or Nintendo DS games for example, the ones that make full use of the Wiimote’s motion controls and the DS stylus/touchscreen. We won’t be able to test or appreciate games like that completely simply because the controls won’t be the same.

  2. Robert says:

    There is a third company in the mix and thats OTOY. They’re backed by AMD, Supermicro and strangely enough Intel…while AMD is contributing servers and video cards it seems Intel isn’t giving anything but money so it seems.

    This seems more like a good battle with OnLive. There is no video, I’d love to see what this can do and see pricing structure. While OnLive is looking mostly toward games OTOY looks like its going to do not only games, but video (movies and maybe tv), OS’ for virtual offices and more.

    Gaikai looks interesting, but i don’t quite know where its going. Not sure if there will be a dedicated site with games or you have to go to several sites. Not sure the quality of the games. Have to wait.

    It’ll be an interesting battle. The thing is OnLive is reality now, when will the other two come out? What will the quality be like and which will have the most and best content? OnLive does have a lot of the major game companies behind it. The thing that may make it hard for the average person is the price. At $15 a month PLUS game rental and buying fee, it may be a little much for people to swallow.

  3. Xinter says:

    OnLive announced they are offering a free demo service last week with the same free deal that Gaikai is proposing, but also with the ability to rent or buy the game. http://bit.ly/d4WBfP

    It looks like this interview was recorded before OnLive’s announcement because the pricing comparison doesn’t make sense now.

  4. Robert says:

    “Through the OnLive Game Portal, gamers will be able to play SELECT games directly on a rental basis as well as game demos for free”

    It says select games so not all games will be rentable or demoed. Its a good offer though, some is better than none and they may change their mind and give full access rentals later. I guess it depends on how many $15/mo subs they get and how much money they make from the portal with no subs just on rentals.

    • lambert v. says:

      People who love to play games on their PC are the ones who’ll get the most out of OnLive – assuming that the service itself doesn’t suck of course. Otherwise, people who own other gaming systems (like me) will find it hard to pay $15 a month for something that we won’t regularly use.

      But overall the success of OnLive or any other cloud-based gaming service depends largely on a factor that they can’t control – the quality of the internet connection of their potential customers. I don’t know if there are enough customers out there with high speed internet, but if there are then OnLive and company will be here to stay (again, assuming that their services don’t suck).

      • Robert says:

        Actually I just read that they will allow demo and rental of select games without having to pay a subscription fee. I guess it will be lacking some options and some games. Maybe it’ll be more like games will go to the pay people first and after a few months they’ll trickle down to non-subs. We’ll see.

        It will be great for PC gamers and of course it’ll be up to the persons connection but I think later on when new consoles come out even console people will look at OnLive and services like it. Instead of paying $400-600 on a new console people may thin this is a better option…if their internet access is good enough.

  5. Xinter says:

    I read “Select” to mean that game publishers may not allow all games to be available through a free portal, which would affect Gaikai as well. BTAIM, OnLive certainly could decide to offer all games they are allowed to if they need to be competitive.

    The key thing is Gaikai’s announcement only talks about OnLive’s $15/mo service. They would have said something about OnLive’s free service if they were aware of it.

    • lambert v. says:

      I’m also curious about Gaikai’s pricing scheme, but right now it seems like they don’t want to commit to anything concrete about providing an OnLive-like service.

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