Monday, 8 October 2012

Gaikai Finished Their Cloud Gaming Demo Business and are Working On Their Integration Into Sony and a PlayStation Cloud Gaming Service


Since cloud gaming company Gaikai was acquired by Sony, many people have wondered if they will continue with their cloud gaming demo business which let people try out games like Battlefield 3 for free with options to buy the games afterwards from various retailers. Gaikai has now answered that question as they have removed the cloud gaming demos from their web page and completely redesigned it. This also means that they have stopped serving cloud gaming demos to other sites in their cloud gaming demo network like WalmartBest Buy, YouTube, EA Origin and Eurogamer. Gaikai has also ended their Facebook beta test, when you visit the Gaikai Facebook beta page you are greeted by the same website as on their home page.



When you now visit the new Gaikai web page you are greeted by this message:

200+ TITLES. 50M+ GAMERS PER MONTH.
A GUINNESS BOOK WORLD RECORD.

And that's just for starters! Over the past several years, we've worked tirelessly to re-define the way people access and play video games. We developed amazing streaming technology, assembled an accomplished management team, and built the world's most widespread cloud gaming network.

And while we think all of that is pretty cool, we're not done yet. As a new member of the Sony Computer Entertainment family, we're working even harder to ensure the world's best entertainment content is delivered instantly to you, no matter where you are in the world.

They write more on their about page:

THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT

People might say we have our head in the clouds, and they would be right. Long before people knew what "the cloud" was, we were leveraging it to achieve an infinitely worthwhile vision: to make video games as easily accessible as movies and music.

With our recent acquisition by Sony Computer Entertainment, you're probably wondering what happens to our vision now.

Truth is, the future has never looked brighter. We're working hard with Sony Computer Entertainment to advance our cloud gaming platform, and we can't wait to unveil the next generation of it to you.

Judging by these messages Gaikai is hard at work on their integration into the Sony corporate structure and on establishing a cloud gaming service for Sony, be it for their PlayStation business or for another endeavor. The background of the Gaikai web page features a big Gaikai logo combined with famous figures from Sony PlayStation first-party blockbuster games like Kratos from God of War, Nathan Drake from Uncharted and Sackboy from LittleBigPlanet, and from blockbusters of other large games publishers like Commander Shepard from EA's Mass Effect. This hints heavily at Gaikai working on a PlayStation cloud gaming service with the biggest first-party Sony franchises involved and other large games publishers like EA also on board with blockbuster franchises like Mass Effect. Speaking of EA, they were already a strong supporter of Gaikai, even before them being acquired by Sony. EA games like FIFA 12, Battlefield 3Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 were featured as free demos on the Gaikai cloud gaming demo network.



Another strong sign that Gaikai is working hard on a PlayStation cloud gaming service is the careers part of the Gaikai page, with many open positions. This is what Gaikai wrote:

GROW WITH US

We're growing, and we've got room for people who share our passion for elevating the video game industry by making all games as accessible as movies and music are today.

We have open positions for every level of talent, from new college grads to seasoned video game industry professionals. Have a look at our list of open positions and apply if something looks like a fit.

One interesting part of the new Gaikai web page is also the history part which shows a timeline that chronicles Gaikai's history from their founding up to their acquisition by Sony. There is also a Q&A section.

It's interesting to see how the two largest cloud gaming services to date OnLive and Gaikai developed. OnLive started strong with a full cloud gaming platform that went against the consoles and Gaikai started humble with a cloud gaming demo network. Now Gaikai was purchased by a console manufacturer and will get a chance of building a full cloud gaming platform under the umbrella of Sony, and not long after that OnLive went through ABC bankruptcy and started their reorganization that is proving quite troublesome.

Some open questions still remain regarding Sony's purchase of Gaikai. What is with Gaikai's partnerships with Samsung, LG, Wikipad, Hawken and NVIDIA? One can speculate. Regarding the partnerships with Samsung and LG, I would say that Sony powering cloud gaming services for two of their big rivals in the consumer electronics space has a very slim chance of happening. LG has even partnered with OnLive to bring their cloud gaming service to LG Smart TVs, though with OnLive's recent troubles this could also be in limbo.



Regarding the partnership with Wikipad, I would say that there are no obstacles why a PlayStation cloud gaming service wouldn't fit on the Wikipad. Since Sony's PlayStation Mobile games will arrive on the Wikipad and Wikipad president of sales Fraser Townley confirmed that Gaikai is still coming to the Wikipad, there is a strong chance of this happening.

Regarding Hawken coming to the PlayStation cloud gaming service, I think that both the game's developer Adhesive Games and publisher Meteor Entertainment would be very happy to feature the free-to-play multiplayer title on Sony's cloud gaming service.



Finally regarding the partnership with NVIDIA, I would say that there is a strong chance that NVIDIA's Geforce GRID cloud gaming technology will be heavily featured in the Gaikai designed cloud gaming data centers that will power the PlayStation cloud gaming service. NVIDIA is to date the only large computer hardware company that is betting big on cloud gaming, though their archrival AMD recently invested into cloud gaming company CiiNOW and is rumored to be providing GPU's and other computer hardware for all next generation consoles.



Some people have speculated that Sony has only bought Gaikai for keeping other companies from getting their cloud gaming technology and building their own cloud gaming services. With more and more cloud gaming service, technology and middleware providers like Playcast, Ubitus, G-cluster, Agawi, CiiNOW, Cloud Union and OTOY springing up, the cable giants getting involved, telecom operators starting up cloud gaming services and even Sony's big console rival Microsoft working on a cloud gaming service that should be ready by 2015, it would be highly negligent and wasteful of Sony to throw away $380 million in their current troubled financial situation. I think with the latest developments in the cloud gaming space, Sony's purchase of Gaikai is proving more and more as a valuable asset.

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