Saturday, 15 October 2011

GameStop Takes Another Shot at OnLive, While Gaikai Praises OnLive

As if it wasn’t bad enough when GameStop told OnLive and Square Enix that they would not allow the two to include OnLive redemption codes in copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution several weeks ago, the company continues to take shots at Onlive.

“I don’t think OnLive has proven anything yet, except that the technology works,” said David Wilson, the head of Spawn Labs at GDC Online in Austin, TX this week (according to Gamasutra). He admitted that there are still challenges to cloud gaming such as bandwidth caps, maintaining acceptable video quality, and reducing latency. Spawn Labs is the company that was acquired by GameStop to be their “competition” to OnLive.

"There are good reasons to use the cloud, but there are reasons not to use the cloud," he stated.

Wilson also said that OnLive’s service didn’t resonate with consumers because he believes that OnLive pitched the system as something that could replace consoles and he criticized the hype that surrounded OnLive, which some people said would marginalize traditional kinds of delivery services. Streaming technology is on course, however. "Cloud gaming got over-hyped… but it’s happening. There's no overnight success, you don't overturn an industry in six months," said Wilson.

This couldn’t be any further from the truth. OnLive has been saying all along that they do not look to replace traditional consoles. Instead they have been reiterating from day one that they merely wish to complement them. Cloud gaming is certainly moving in a direction, where in the future, traditional consoles more than likely will become extinct. However, OnLive never pitched their service as something that could replace consoles. 

Wilson added that at this stage, game developers don't need to do much different on their end to have their games work on the cloud. But in the future, developers will want to fine tune their games to take advantage of what is essentially unlimited computing power.

"Long term, there will be more considerations, because people will be building for the cloud. Right now [developers] don’t really need to do anything," he said.

Spawn Labs was acquired back in March of this year by GameStop. GameStop looks at themselves as competition to OnLive. While GameStop also acquired Impulse Inc. it’s not certain exactly how the company will utilize Spawn Labs’ technology, but it does appear to be server based cloud gaming similar to that of OnLive. While Spawn Labs was initially a p-2-p based streaming service, it is believed that they have now upgraded to server based streaming.

On the other hand, David Perry, CEO of cloud gaming company Gaikai said, "Cloud gaming should be totally invisible to the user." To him, accessibility is one of the biggest advantages of cloud gaming.

"[Players] don’t need to know [how cloud gaming works]. Our goal is to be completely invisible," Perry said. "Today, that's not the way it is. Games are incredibly high friction… We keep putting barriers in front of people."

Perry said he asks himself, "What would it take to make video games as accessible as movies or music?… We'll never get there if we don't make [games] accessible."

He said cloud gaming is still a work in progress, but it's going in the right direction. "It’s a nightmare to build a global server network… but we've found people willing to fund this. It's not a question of can it be done, it's just a lot of work," he said.

When asked if he believed whether the next generation of consoles would implement cloud gaming capabilities, Perry replied, "They would be insane not to. You don't want to be a console that doesn’t." He added that at a recent cloud gaming convention, there were over a dozen people from Microsoft, a handful from Sony, and one from Nintendo, which he speculated probably represents the level of interest from those companies.

In the past, consoles were all about accessibility -- plug in a cartridge, turn on a switch, and start playing. But Perry said somewhere along the way, consoles lost that accessibility. "Fundamentally, we have to get back to that -- how easy can we make [gaming]," he said.

Perry also stressed that cloud gaming makes PC game development as important as ever. "You would be nuts [not to have a PC build]," he said. If you're not, you're "just throwing money away." Gaikai's service currently lets users jump right into a PC game demo from a web ad. "This future is coming, trust me. We're well-funded. This is going to happen. OnLive is already making it happen. You need to be prepared for that."

Gaikai's David Perry praising OnLive, Dave loves bashing OnLive, if this doesn't prove that OnLive is a huge success, I don't know what else could.

SOURCES: OnLiveFans, Gamasutra.

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