Wednesday, 1 February 2012

G-cluster Will Challenge OnLive in the Cloud Gaming Arena

Japanese cloud gaming and VOD startup G-cluster plans to enter the US market with an on-demand mobile gaming service, presenting a possible challenge to OnLive. The company has secured an unnamed amount of funding from Intel and Vivendi’s French mobile carrier SFR to expand its reach beyond home casual gaming and movie streaming into high-end gaming for tablets and smartphones.

G-cluster has already established itself in France, providing a casual gaming service through SFR’s residential broadband arm that customers can access through their TVs and set-top boxes or on their Macs or PCs. In Japan, G-cluster is offering an HD movie-on-demand service to connected TVs. But according to Sevan Kessissian, G-cluster VP of Content and Strategy, the startup has bigger ambitions than just casual gaming and video in the domicile. It plans to combine the processing might of the cloud and low-latency, high-bandwidth connections of new wireless networks to create a mobile service that supports high-quality, real-time gaming to tablets and other mobile devices. And it plans to launch that service in the US.

In Europe, G-cluster Global’s cloud-based video gaming service was first commercialized on SFR’s Neufbox one year ago. One million households have already benefited from the service, recently made available for Mac and PC and neufbox Evolution.   

“SFR has been one of our key partners ever since day one. We’re delighted that they are standing with us as we move into this new phase. Their investment is the best possible proof of their confidence in us as partners – and their satisfaction with us as our clients,” said Erik Piehl, President and Representative Director of G-cluster Global Corporation. “Together with funding from Intel, this investment by such a major operator as SFR is a resounding validation of the relevance of our technology and our multi-device approach, deployed worldwide.”

Pierre-Emmanuel Struyven, President of SFR Developpement added “SFR is delighted to support G-Cluster since its launch. We are convinced the cloud-based solutions are in phase with the new modes of consumption. Their successes confirm the managed networks superiority”.

“We are in discussion with major partners in order to penetrate the US market” Kessissian said. “The game catalogue will be a blend of the best casual games and AAA games.”

Kessissian didn’t provide any details about which partners G-cluster is in discussions with or when such a US service would launch, but when it finally does emerge here it may find an already established competitor in the market. In December, OnLive announced its mobile gaming service for iOS and Android devices.

The fact that Vivendi is the owner of Activision Blizzard and its French subsidiary SFR invested in G-cluster is very interesting. Activision Blizzard has kept very mum on the subject of cloud gaming support, there have been no partnerships announced regarding cloud gaming services and their games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft haven't appeared on cloud gaming services like OnLive, with the exception of Playcast, though many OnLive gamers wish that would change. Gaikai has recently demonstrated World of Warcraft running via their cloud gaming platform on Facebook, but with no official support from Activision BlizzardG-cluster might actualy get access to Call of Duty and World of Warcraft if it's in the interest of Vivendi.

SOURCES: GigaOM, Business Wire.

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