Gaikai: YouTube Gaming for the Masses?

July 7, 2009 § 1 Comment

What did I say?

Dave Perry confused me recently with his low-key demonstration of Gaikai. When the news broke on Kotaku, he was quoted as saying that “our positioning allows us to help Nintendo / Sony / Microsoft reach out and draw in new audiences, where OnLive will never get 1st Party titles.” Sure, OnLive probably won’t get the next Metal Gear Solid or Gears of War – they are, after all, directly competing with Sony and Microsoft – but why should Gaikai be any different?

In a recent Digital Foundry article on Eurogamer, Perry explained all. Perry’s not offering an alternative to the next PlayStation or Xbox console; he’s doing what YouTube and MySpace does with music: he’s introducing a way for people to sample the medium with the hope being that they will go on to purchase the full product. I’ve got to hand it to Perry, this is a fantastic idea – one which will potentially open up gaming to an even larger audience than ever before. All you need is a PC and a broadband internet connection, and certainly in this country, with the Government’s plans to open up high-speed access for all by 2012, almost everybody will have a chance to try out Gaikai in the near future.

But will the publishers go for? Well, yes, I think so. Certainly from a DRM point-of-view their content is protected because no files are being sent to the client’s computer. I think it’s a case of whether publishers will recognise the potential of Gaikai as a conduit to advertise their products – and I’ve very little doubt that they will.

Will the big three platform holders see this is a threat? Again, I don’t think so. What they should be seeing it as – and what I hope they see it as – is an opportunity. Perry recognises the limitations of his service and has brilliantly turned it into an advantage for him. He knows Gaikai can’t guarantee hi-def visuals at 60 FPS streaming over the internet. “For the full experience”, he’ll say, “the consumer will have to look towards buying the games on the appropriate console.” And in this way he’s not offering an alternative, competing product; he’s providing a valuable marketing tool.

Bravo, Perry. I think you’ve really cracked something here.

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§ One Response to Gaikai: YouTube Gaming for the Masses?

  • Personal Propaganda says:

    While you have a point, the problem with all that is that cloud computing in general, if it works, renders consoles obsolete (over the long term). That alone is a GIGANTIC threat to Sony and company. They aren’t going to want to do ANYTHING to support someone attempting to further a technology that will render their bread and butter, consoles, worthless. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft have, doubtless, already sunk millions or more in to the RnD of the next gen of consoles. Even if all Perry wants to do right now is set up to let people demo high end gaming and make game advertising cooler the big three know it wont last. What’s worse is that if they do get involved in Gaikai they will have paved the way for their own destruction by establishing Gaikai as a market regular. In short, it would be suicide for the big three to do anything to help either group (Onlive or Gaikai). Gaikai might not try to put themselves in direct opposition to the big dogs just yet. But, their tech renders the need to buy a console obsolete just as much as Onlive, and is therefore a huge threat to established market forces.

    Even so, all this doesn’t really matter. The big thing is getting publishers and developers to sign off on it (which it seems Onlive is ahead on). That might mean not seeing “Metal Gear 7” and so on. But, in reality such exclusive titles make up a rather small portion of the overall market. Cloud systems have some very attractive capabilities that developers will love. One thing is reaching a whole new market by removing the requisite of a console which, despite Perry’s inference to the contrary, you won’t need to play Onlive (or Gaikai). Another is that both these systems would cut out retailers and, to some extent, publishers as well. Both these facts would greatly improve game developers profitability.

    Frankly, Perry’s recent media blitz seems more like panic than calm collected action. I think Perry has been working on this for a while and realizes that potential of such a product. I mean, forget revolutionizing the gaming industry it could revolutionize the internet it’s self. Knowing this, he saw Onlives demo and had a nice little freak out. Hence, the whole coming out the day immediately after Onlive and the somewhat hurried looking demo released on the net with subsequent interviews mocking Onlive. He’s trying, desperately, to steal some of Onlives thunder for himself. As I think he realizes the person who brings a viable cloud computing system to the web could very well be the next Bill Gates…

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