Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Agawi Partnered with Microsoft and is Using Their Windows Azure Cloud Computing Platform to Stream Games to Windows 8 Devices and More


Cloud gaming company Agawi announced a collaboration with Microsoft. The name Agawi is an acronym that means “any game, anywhere, instantly,” their logo also points that out very clearly. Agawi will use Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud computing platform to stream games from their version 2.0 cloud gaming platform to devices that will use Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system (PCs, tablets and smartphones) and more like Smart TVs. The Menlo Park, California-based Agawi was formerly known as iSwifter and has a cloud-based streaming platform that enables a growing list of over 12,000 Adobe Flash and PC-based gaming applications to be streamed to iOS and Android mobile devices from low cost cloud-based servers anywhere in the world.

Agawi's version 2.0 cloud gaming platform is offering cloud streaming of all forms of games content-including social Facebook games like Edgeworld as well as mid-core games like web-based MMOs with a PC download and hardcore titles like Unmechanical and Assassin's Creed to all devices. Popular AAA games will be made available in the coming months for instant play on Windows 8 devices like PCs, tablets and smartphones with no additional work required by developers, who are encouraged to contact the company at Agawi.io to be included in the developer partner program. With this move Agawi will tread strongly into OnLive cloud streaming territory.

“The first problem OnLive had is that they tried to run a B2C (business-to-consumer) service,” said Peter Relan, Executive Chairman of Agawi. “We are a B2B (business-to-business) platform, we’re engaging with publishers. We don’t want to be a B2C service. We’re saying, "Look, here’s a technology, a platform that any publisher can use and bring their game to Windows 8."”

Rather than act as a competitive storefront with some publisher-owned stores, Agawi wants to enable them to deliver their products to users by facilitating the relationship between game publisher and customer, not replacing it. Another key difference is on the tech side, according to Relan, which saves the company plenty of overhead compared to OnLive.

“Notice that Azure is a very central part of this,” he said. “OnLive, the reason they went bankrupt basically is that they spent a huge amount of money buying servers and running their own data centers. We’re not.”

Relan says that going after delivering top-notch gaming from the start before the infrastructure was really there to support it — meaning that it had to be built from scratch — OnLive set itself up for failure. Agawi instead started slow, tackling games with very limited requirements, and worked its way up to top-tier titles.

Still, Relan says Agawi is being cautious. The company won’t target games that have massive hardware requirements and require ultra-low latency to be enjoyable, such as immersive 3D multiplayer shooters. But some of the best current action-adventure titles enjoyed best solo will definitely be among those they will announce by the end of Q4 of this year, as Agawi will partner with games publishers and developers.

Agawi is working with a strategy of opportunistic expansion and adding supplemental support for things like hardware controllers and Android devices as needed. It’s trying to take a more exploratory route than OnLive’s big stuff first, details later strategy, and hopefully that’ll end up resulting in a more dependable, consistent and lasting experience for gamers.

"Game developers want to focus on building great games, not worrying about back-end issues like scalability and platform management. With Windows Azure, Agawi 2.0 enables developers to make high-performance games easily accessible across devices with the high-quality graphics and virtually instant game downloads," said Walid Abu-Hadba, Vice-President at Microsoft. "For gamers, Windows 8 delivers a fast, fluid and no-compromise experience that opens the door to exciting new form factors." I'm not sure that Walid knows what cloud streaming means as he stated "virtually instant game downloads," though with cloud streaming gamers only get to see the video of their gameplay, or does that mean that we will have to download the streaming client or plug-in for every game that we want to stream.

Not long ago some leaked Xbox 720 PowerPoint slides surfaced that revealed that Microsoft is working heavily towards cloud gaming on the upcoming Xbox 720 console, with the launch of Microsoft's Xbox 720 cloud gaming service planned for 2015. This collaboration with Agawi on their cloud gaming service is surely a great dress rehearsal for their own upcoming cloud gaming service.

"We are delighted to work together with Microsoft to bring Agawi cloud-based game streaming to Windows 8 via the Windows Azure platform," said Peter Relan. "The tech obviously works on Windows 8, so it works on Windows 8 phones," Relan also said. "I think on Windows 8 phone, what is interesting and I'm very curious to see is the size of the real estate available. As you can see, phones, even with the rumored iPhone 5, everyone's heading towards a slightly larger screen, right? I would say that with the current screens that we're seeing on some of the largest phones, it is entirely possible. With smaller screens, the real estate is pretty challenging. The controls are usually problematic."

"That's a publisher decision," Relan said about the control options for games. "We support the idea of d-pads on the tablet itself. We support pure touch gesture on the tablet. We support point-and-click on the screen -- touch and tap. We support swipe for scrolling. We support a full controller, like an Xbox console controller," he added.

Agawi is demoing their cloud-based games streaming platform on Windows 8 devices at the Cloud Gaming USA event in San Francisco that runs from today till tomorrow, where Agawi is also delivering a keynote speech.



SOURCES: TechCrunchEngadget.

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