Monday, 14 November 2011

Microsoft’s Brian Prince Talks About OnLive and Cloud Gaming

At GDC China, Microsoft cloud evangelist Brian Prince discussed developing for the cloud, often referencing the company's new Azure cloud service, which the company has spent billions developing. The servers alone, of which there are six, cost $2.5 billion, according to Price.

Right now there are a few options. You can build games to scale to the cloud yourself, or you can send your games into cloud gaming services like Onlive and Gaikai. "These are really gaming platforms as a service," says Price. "There are some limitations here, but I really do think this is the distant future of gaming in the cloud."

In terms of the drawbacks though, "typically these platforms focus on AAA PC game titles," he says. "If you're not in that space, they don't want to talk to you as much. Another problem is that your gamers need high speed internet access. That's fine if you live in a city, but most of America doesn't live in a city, for example."

There's also a slight lack of control as a developer or publisher. "You lose a little bit about how people are finding and playing your game, which can be important," he says. "And this is yet another publisher you have to deal with. Sometimes publishers are a dream, but it's another contract you have to sign." Still, he thinks it's very important, and the way games are going in the future.

At least in the case of OnLive I have to strongly disagree that they just focus on AAA PC game titles. In the opposite, lately there has been a flood of great indie game titles on OnLive, like Bastion, Orcs Must Die! and many others. In addition there are many more great indie games like indie hit Limbo coming to the OnLive service and OnLive is in talks with more and more indie developers. I wouldn't exaggerate, saying that OnLive has lately gotten somewhat of an indie hit.

One wonders, with OnLive recently announcing that they have millions of playing users, that Microsoft could be getting a little bit jealous of OnLive’s success. When Prince says that models like OnLive are in the “distant” future, he seems to be inferring that it isn’t something that the gaming world is ready for just yet. If you were to ask OnLive though, they would surely disagree.

SOURCES: Gamasutra, OnLiveFans.

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