Cloud gaming service Gaikai and Meteor Entertainment, a newly formed publisher of free-to-play video games including the highly anticipated Hawken, announced a new partnership that will bring Hawken to Gaikai’s open cloud gaming platform. Powered by Gaikai’s high performance open cloud platform, Hawken will be available to try instantly before its 12/12/12 launch date on www.playhawken.com and other websites, with no downloads or installs required.
Gaikai has partnered with NVIDIA to upgrade their data centers with the new Geforce GRID cloud gaming technology. Since NVIDIA likes to put up a good show they have demonstrated Hawken at the end of the keynote speech that NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang gave at GTC 2012 (GPU Technology Conference). A few minutes before, Jen-Hsun Huang announced the Geforce GRID cloud gaming technology for the first time and then he invited his old pal since his game developing times, Gaikai CEO David Perry to the stage to demonstrate Hawken. Hawken was demonstrated streaming from a data center 10 miles away on a NVIDIA Tegra 3 powered Transformer Prime tablet hooked up to the main video wall and on a large LG Smart TV.
Developed by Adhesive Games and published by Meteor Entertainment, Hawken is an innovative Unreal 3 engine powered free-to-play multiplayer online game where players battle giant armored mechs amongst the ruined cities of a toxic planet. The new PC title is set to revolutionize digital game distribution as well as the mech genre, by delivering fast paced mech combat action and state-of-the-art visuals to hardcore players worldwide on the web through a free-to-play business model where players buy virtual goods rather than paying for the game up front. Since Hawken was first announced on 2/6/12, over 200,000 players have signed up for the closed beta at www.playhawken.com and trailers of the game have generated over 3 million views from excited fans on YouTube.
We all wondered when OnLive will get their killer cloud game, but it looks like Gaikai will get it with Hawken. Though we'll have to wait and see if that game really materializes as that good. I didn't like some aspects of the demo like the missing destructibility of the world. A few minutes before that demo, NVIDIA demoed destructible materials combined with ray tracing. When you see such a mighty impressive demo before and then a demo of a game that plays in a futuristic ruined city with mechs that have such an explosive arsenal you kinda expect to blow the shit out of that city and not that even little obstacles can't get scratched not to speak of shattered to pieces. Let's hope Adhesive Games is working on the destructibility of Hawken, though I'm not so optimistic considering that the Unreal 3 engine is no Frostbite 2 engine.
“Hawken wants to be free and it wants to be everywhere - and with Gaikai, it will be,” stated Mark Long, CEO at Meteor Entertainment. “Their tech is the next level. It's mind blowing to see Hawken running on a tablet!”
"These partnerships give us the opportunity to reach the mainstream audience," said Long. "The visually disruptive, cinematic graphics are the first thing everyone sees with Hawken. We know there's an audience out here that will want to try this game out and now they'll be able to play it beyond the traditional PC."
“Hawken is set to be one of the hottest titles of 2012, with stunning visuals and action-filled gameplay. It is a refreshing addition to the mech genre, as well as an outstanding example of a high-quality development from an independent studio,” said Robert Stevenson, EVP at Gaikai. “By hosting the best gaming experiences available, we can fully showcase the capabilities of Gaikai’s open cloud platform.”
"If you look at games as a business, Call of Duty was the biggest entertainment launch in history and it's shocking how many entities didn't participate in that launch," said Gaikai CEO David Perry. "Cloud gaming is the only way to get that huge audience through consumer electronic devices that are already in the home. Hawken looks amazing on an HD TV set and it's exactly the kind of game that the larger audience will want to play. This will allow big games to truly have the types of huge debuts that we see with Hollywood blockbusters."
Smart TV gamers will be able to play Hawken in 720p running at 60 fps for free with ad-supported streaming similar to what TV viewers are used to with special limited commercial interruption programming. Perry said this game will also introduce new technology that Gaikai has been developing. The company is planning a big push around Hawken. The odds are that if you already own an internet-connected TV, it will likely support Gaikai through a new firmware upgrade that's seamlessly done on the back end.
"The direction we're heading now with free-to-play, it makes sense for the game to be on as many platforms as possible," said Jason Hughes, producer of Hawken at Adhesive Games. "Gaikai allows us to reach many more homes than we can through the PC. The more people that are playing the game, the better the experience will be for players. It helps build a stronger community."
Adhesive Games, which is developing Hawken using Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3, originally targeted Xbox Live Arcade with this multiplayer mech shooter. As a result, the game is playable with a controller. That ties in nicely to the streaming TV experience.
"We have one of those rare good fortunes that the game was designed for the controller and internally we're debating whether or not PC players should be controller players," said Long. "A couple of guys at the office can kick my ass playing with controllers, so it looks like there won't be any difference between control schemes. It's all in the spirit of what Gaikai is going to do."
Perry said Hawken will also be playable in stereo 3D for anyone who has a 3D TV. The game will even be playable in autostereo 3D on the new WikiPad gaming tablet that is due out later this year.
While the Gaikai Hawken full game launch will come shortly after the PC debut, the tablet streaming will come at a later date. As a result, Hughes said the team, which is still focusing on the PC game, could explore touch-screen controls and other options for portable devices. Once Hawken does become available across all of these devices, Hughes said the ultimate goal is to allow gamers to play cross-platform within the same game universe.
Long said Meteor Entertainment will debut brand new levels of Hawken at E3, including two off-planet levels that look completely different from anything shown so far. This will also mark the first time gaming press will be able to play the game. Select fans were able to play the game at PAX East in Boston last month.