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A flood from the stream: Gaikai’s boss on the turning tide

Friday, 1 July 2011 07:51 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Cloud gaming may be the future but it’s real now, Gaikai’s Robert Stevenson tells Brenna Hillier. You shouldn’t be setting fire to that physical media just yet, however.

Robert Stevenson

Gaikai’s Senior VP of Interactive Entertainment.

Held executive roles at Namco Bandai, Atari, and DreamCatcher.

Holds qualifications in design, computer science, and business.

Over 15 years experience in the industry.

Consumers tend to be more interested in streaming game service OnLive than Gaikai, because the latter isn’t being marketed to them; the service itself is the platform which does the marketing. But Gaikai, by its nature as an advertising tool, is something everyone can experience, and that sends a message to gamers that cloud gaming really works.

“At a very high level Gaikai and OnLive are doing the same thing, streaming games from the cloud,” Robert Stevenson, Gaikai’s interactive entertainment head, agreed.

“After that 50,000 foot point-of-view, the companies head in different directions approaching their target markets.”

Not only are they heading in different directions, but they’re doing it at very different speeds.

“From what they have stated, they have three data centers and are working towards a new one in the UK later this year,” Stevenson said of OnLIve.

“The Gaikai approach to enablement has really been to establish the fastest, broadest reaching network in the world and currently has 24 data centers, all live and streaming away. This gives us a solid reach into three continents and well over a dozen countries.

“We also focus heavily on peering and transit agreements with the major networks and ISPs to make sure our streams arrive efficiently into the ‘last mile’ to the consumer’s home. This is where we are today and we are continuing to aggressively grow.”

Gaikai came out of closed beta in February, and according to Sevenson, has been signing new sites and content “almost weekly” since then.

“Since we have deployed a broad reaching gaming cloud with 24 data centers and counting, gamers in North America and Europe can try some of the best titles today, and our service in Asia – where servers are already running – will become available to the public soon,” he explained.

“The fact that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 still offer compelling gaming experiences and need to be fully amortized by the platform holders is a clear case that physical media will still play a role for many years. In terms of the lifecycle of cloud gaming, it is still quite early.”

“Today, it is definitely possible to run blockbuster games in all of the key gaming markets. It is early, but it is already being done. As more clients – browsers, TVs, tablets and other thin client devices – become enabled, the points of access for consumers will be everywhere. This will be extremely convenient for gamers, but the build out will take time and it will be years before it becomes the only option for gaming.”

On that note, Stevenson shot down my suggestion that physical media is just barely clinging to life.

“In the world of video games, another full generation of hardware, much less two, is still years away,” he said. “The fact that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 still offer compelling gaming experiences and need to be fully amortized by the platform holders is a clear case that physical media will still play a role for many years. In terms of the lifecycle of cloud gaming, it is still quite early.”

An appreciation of physical media and the slow rollout of broadband globally also contribute to the pastic case’s grim grip on life, but it won’t hold on forever.

“The tide is turning and much like music, movies and books digital will eclipse physical and probably more rapidly than people think,” Stevenson said.

“Even if we discount the current crop of consumers and platforms as only partially transitionary in going fully digital, the inevitable reality is that there is a generation of young people today that only know content consumption through digital channels and their attachment to physical goods like CDs or DVDs is going to be relatively low.”

Demolishing road blocks

Before we arrive at the glittering, platform-agnostic future, we’re going to have to do something about the pathetic spaghetti delivering dribbles of data to our homes. Asked what kind of connection we’re talking about, Stevenson obligingly produced some numbers.

“While cloud services can of course operate on less capable connections, let’s say lower-end DSL at less than 2.5Mbps, the performance won’t be stellar and certainly will fall way short of the wow factor for the latest blockbuster FPS titles running at high resolution,” he admitted.

What is Gaikai?

A marketing tool offered to publishers, as opposed to a consumer service, that allows streaming game content to be played in a browser.

Headquarters in Orange County, California.

Allows limited time trials or demos to be streamed directly to the consumer.

Has a major content partnership with EA.

Delivery partners include Walmart and Eurogamer.

Plans for 10 million MAU by autumn.

Expected on Internet-capable TVs in 2012.

Backed by Intel Capital, Limelight Networks, Rustic Canyon Partners, Benchmark Capital, and TriplePoint Capital.

“A more reasonable target would be in the 5Mbps range as a baseline for a nice experience. More bandwidth of course, is always better.”

In this regard, ongoing improvements in connections favour Gaikai’s approach.

“In many countries particularly in Europe and Asia, 20, 50 and even 100Mbps broadband are becoming normal package offerings from top MSOs and ISPs,” the executive pointed out. “Countries that are lacking deep broadband penetration are also steadily improving. 4G/LTE mobile access is also another factor opening up more and more reach.”

Even in the shallower reached of the data pond, Gaikai is determined to get content out.

“One of the cool things about the Gaikai solution is that we dynamically present games to the end user based on the capabilities of their connection, Stevenson said.

“If for instance a user has a cable modem set-up at their house that gives them an 8ms ping to our nearest data center and 10Mbps worth of bandwidth, both very realistic numbers in the real world, they will see all of the games publishers have approved at that performance level.

“In the case of a slow connection, we may not pop-up ‘play now’ offers on Gaikai-enabled websites or on a Gaikai-enabled digital TV the catalogue of games being presented might be altered to show the games that will work best for that user. The key point is that we want to give the gamer a great experience that is suited to their capabilities.”

Despite all this, many of us – I don’t hesitate to guess most – haven’t seen Gaikai in action. Perry hinted this week that Gaikai has some major partner announcements to make in the not-too-distance future, and Stevenson echoed him by teasing new tech.

“We actually have a wide variety of clients live and available, completed and not yet live, or just in the works,” he said. “Look for future announcements as we progress.”

We most certainly will.

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5 Comments

  1. thesamy

    i cant use any of this cloud gaming in isreal
    but with viodes ive seen onlive will be the winner of this battle between
    them it look very good for now mybee in a year or 2 when connection will be fast enough this will be worth somthing

    #1 4 years ago
  2. OlderGamer

    All depends where you game from thesamy, I have a fast and smooth gameplay experience when playing Onlive. The only trouble I see with that service is the low selection of included games to play in their all in one play pack.

    These type os services will not succed if all they attempt to do is demo or sell one signel title at a time. It would be like Netflix. Why would I be interested in Netflix if it only let me pick(and pay for) one movie per purchase? that would make no sense. Netflix works because when I turn it on, I have thousands of choices. I can watch whatever I am in the mood to watch.

    Streaming gaming has to have that same level of service or it will fail. Paying full price for one game at a time is not a quaility ground breaking service. Thats what Steam or any other digital or brick and morter store already ofers. There is zero value to the consumer in that.

    Again if Netflix charged me 10usd per movie, and then allowed me to stream it(with limitations) I would be better off buying the said movie at walmart. Hell MS Zune marketplace allows us to purchase and stream and/or store movies in that fashion.

    Netflix works because it is low in price and high in selection.

    Onlive needs to achieve that same level of service.

    Gaikai needs to go away in my opinion.

    The trouble with Gaikai is that current platform holders will use and adapt its toolsets to attempt to control content and of course drive prices up. The first step will be able to see this will be when games come in demo fashion, and then require you to purchase/unlock content. the demo will be timed and non repeatable once time expires. Games will be nontransferable and locked into one system. Just like Live, requiring you to reunlock the game for other systems in other rooms, for fear that a family member(that didn’t pay for the game) might happen to use it. Gasp, because that would be a crime.

    It can’t work that way. But that is what Perry is trying to do. He is trying to sell his tech to MS/Sony/EA/and other such entities.

    It has to be one low price and a large selection of games. It has to work with one login from anywhere. Otherwise it will becomes just another form of DRM and a way to drive up prices with games being sold bit by bit as unlockable DLC/packs.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. evan

    I highly doubt that AAA games would cost $60 or more if full games were sold through Gaikai, usually digital distribution and healthy competition bring prices down–if Onlive was the only player out there for example, and game distribution changed over to the cloud and physical retail went away, they would eventually have incentive to charge $60/game – Just think of M$$$oft. And if a developer took 3 or 4 years to make a game and cloud distribution was the only way to sell it they’d have to make their money back somehow, either charging $60 or maybe microtransactions.

    Apple was the only choice of touchscreen/app market mobile OS for a while and they were ridiculously expensive and bundled with crappy AT&T service, now there are awesome affordable Android phones out there, multiple network choices, and mobile game development is growing like crazy.

    I’m really excited about what Gaikai is doing, especially finally giving us gamers more options for free game demos. Hopefully they’ll come out with more demos for more games. I checked out Mass Effect 2 and Dead Space 2 on Walmart and both ran amazingly well. The way I see it they can only bring cloud gaming up.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Phoenixblight

    “I highly doubt that AAA games would cost $60 or more if full games were sold through Gaikai, usually digital distribution and healthy competition bring prices down”

    You are wrong Publishers set the price and then the retailer has to bump it up to make a profit. With the advancement of technology we will infact be paying more and the downside of this Cloud services is you are not paying to own the game you are paying to use the publishers license for 3 years once the 3 years are up you have to buy the game again IF it is even on the server.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. OlderGamer

    What PB said.

    Thats one of the reasons that Gaikai is evil. The service it aiming for is one the Platform holders will use for their benifit. The service I want is one where I can pay a low price, then be able to use a large selection of games. Like Onlive. Like the old Sega Chanel. What Gaikai aims to do is to enable MS/Sony/Nintendo/EA/Acti and the like to distribute their products in such a fashion that they can control what you play and what you pay to the point where the only ones that win are the MS/Sony/Nintendo/EA/Act types.

    Imagine if record companies of old could have charged you for each listen of a song – beit on the radio, in a store, at a ballpark, or a friends sterio/cdplayer/whatever… if they could have gotten their way they would have done that. That is what Gaikai is aiming to give the power to companies to be able to do.

    Cloud is good. Gaikai is bad. That simple. Its all in the aplication of the tech. Do you serve gamers or do you provide more control and a larger stream of revenue for companies?

    My gut tells me that Gaiaki will be very popular, maybe not it in and of itself, but some form of what they are trying to sell.

    #5 4 years ago

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    Very sad news out of Redmond this week, as Mike Ey was killed in a tragic accident. Ey, 30, was one of the key project designers on Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset. He was killed on Saturday morning in a rear-end collision. The driver of the second vehicle fled the scene but was tracked down by […]

  • AMD throws support behind VR with new low-latency anti-nausea tech

    GPU manufacturer AMD has released a new SDK compatible with “a broad set of VR devices”. Called LiquidVR, the tech is designed to “bring better content, comfort, and compatibility to VR applications” including games, simulation, entertainment, education, social media, travel, medicine, real estate and ecommerce, apparently. AMD said maintaining comfort and realism in VR environments […]

  • Danganronpa 3 in the works, but a long way off yet

    A new Danganronpa is happening. Danganronpa 3 is in the very, very early production stages, writer Kodaka Kazutaka has confirmed. Nothing about the project is “set in stone”, Kazutaka told Polygon, so there are no details to share yet; the characters and story may change several times before being finalised. The writer said he’s weighing […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League 2015 schedule announced

    Major League Gaming has announced the full schedule for the 2015 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League. The eSpots firm revealed two more seasons of Pro League, a live Relegation tournament for Season Three, and a season ending World Championship with $250,000 up for grabs You can watch all the action on MLG.tv […]

  • Happy Birthday PlayStation 2, you are almost old enough to drive

    Amidst all the GDC 2015 hoopla today, we forgot to wish PlayStation 2 a Happy Birthday. The system turned 15 years old today, going by its March 4, 2000 launch date in Japan. It was released in the west that autumn, and had shipped 100 million units in less than six years post launch. PS2 […]

  • Here’s what the final version of Valve’s Steam Controller looks like

    A look at the updated Steam Controller has surfaced via a hands-on post from Polygon. Valve said what you see in the images below is the final version of the controller. The controller has gone through numerous revisions since it was first revealed, but it seems Valve has decided on two touch pads which work […]

  • The Sims, SimCity developer closed down

    The Sims 4 developer Maxis has been shuttered, EA has confirmed. The Sims, SimCity and the rest of the Sim franchise has traditionally been helmed by Maxis, which had its flagship studio in Emeryville, California. Now EA has confirmed with Kotaku that this studio is being closed. “Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to […]

  • Gigantic MOBA coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One with cross-play

    Today during GDC 2015, Microsoft announced that the new IP from Motiga called Gigantic will be cross-play enabled. Slated for Windows 10 and Xbox One, the five-on-five third-person battle arena game allows the player to select from an array of heroes with distinctive powers and play styles. Players will then make their way through areas […]

  • Here’s a look at Unreal Tournament DirectX 12 gameplay

    Epic Games is creating Unreal Tournament using Unreal Engine 4 running on DirectX 12, which Microsoft says “sets a new bar for visual fidelity.” DirectX 12 is a single API developers can access across Windows devices, which can result in a 20% improvement in performance over DX11 running on the same machine. The Unreal Tournament […]

  • Wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers out later this year

    Microsoft announced at GDC 2015 today it will that all wireless Xbox gaming accessories will be designed for and supported on both Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs moving forward. Later this year, a wireless adapter will be released, allowing current Xbox controllers and future devices to be used wirelessly on PCs. This will […]

  • Microsoft offers up more details on Spencer’s GDC 2015 talk

    Microsoft has provided more details on Cross-Buy functionality between Windows 10 and Xbox One as well as the Xbox Live SKU and other announcements made during Phil Spencer’s talk today. During the session, the head of Xbox shared “the next step” in the company’s plans for a unified platform across all Windows 10 devices which […]

  • Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 this summer

    Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 as a Game of the Year Edition. inXile Entertainment announced the news on the PS Blog, noting the edition contains enhancements and improvements. The game has been ported to Unity 5, which was announced over the weekend, providing upgraded visual effects, “improved character models, upgraded environments, and Unity […]

  • Cross-Buy detailed for Windows 10 and Xbox One; Elite: Dangerous coming to Xbox One

    During Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s session at GDC 2015 today, it was announced Elite: Dangerous would release on Xbox One. Spencer also outlined cross-buy functionality across Windows 10 and Xbox One. Spencer’s talk started off with Frontier Developments announcing Elite: Dangerous for release this summer as a console debut on Xbox One, suggesting the Elite: […]

  • Longbeards Culture Pack available now for Total War: Attila

    The Longbeards Culture Pack is now available for Total War: Attila and it comes with three new playable factions. The Langobards, the Burgundians and the Alamans can be played in both single and multiplayer campaign modes as well as custom and multiplayer battles. A new feature called The Lay of Ybor is also included. It […]

  • Nvidia unveils Titan X as world’s “most advanced GPU” – video

    Nvidia revealed Titan X as “the world’s most advanced GPU” during Epic founder Tim Sweeney’s State of Unreal session a t GDC 2015 today. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage during the panel stating it contains “8 billion transistors,” and has 12GB of RAM. Pricing wasn’t announced, but it was rumored back in January […]

  • Steam sale discounts titles announced for SteamOS

    With many of the year’s most popular games heading to SteamOS, Valve has decided to host sale in celebration. Here’s a short list of titles on sale. The full list of PC, Linux, Mac and SteamOS discounts can be found through the link. The Banner Saga Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Batman: Arkham […]

  • PayDay 2 announced for SteamOS, celebrating with franchise sale

    PayDay 2 is coming to SteamOS, Overkill has announced. Still under development, a release date will be announced at a later date. “Making sure PAYDAY 2 is available on SteamOS felt like a no-brainer,” said Bo Andersson Klint, CEO of Starbreeze in the press release. “With PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition coming to the next generation […]

  • Magicka 2 has a release date and a crazy new trailer

    Magicka 2 has a release date for PC and the PlayStation 4, and Paradox Interactive has released a trailer featuring “Vlad’s latest lyrical triumph,” which is his rendition of the Game of Thrones theme. Magicka arrived on PC and PS4 May 26 and the game can be pre-ordered on PC beginning today, with PS4 pre-orders […]

  • Nintendo eShop schedule: Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone, others

    Nintendo has sent over a list of titles heading to the eShop in 2015. The schedule contains titles such as Affordable Space Adventures, Runbow, Swords & Soldiers 2, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. Below a preliminary list of games scheduled to launch in the Nintendo eShop on […]

  • Week 8: Can you win the weekly VG247 GTA Online playlist? Play tonight at 8pm UK time!

    We’re hotdogging tonight. I don’t even know what that means. Eight weeks of ridiculous death. Such a brave, true milestone. We’re going to celebrate two entire months of playing weekly GTA Online playlists with VG247 readers with Hotdogging, a set of six jobs I named completely at random. This one ends with a straight-up border […]

  • Puzzle platformer Four Sided Fantasy coming to PC, consoles in early 2016

    Curve Digital and developer Logan Fieth’s studio Ludo Land are bringing puzzle platformer, Four Sided Fantasy, to PC all major consoles in early 2016. Ludo Land are developing the PC version, with Curve Digital handling the console and Vita versions. Four Sided Fantasy tasks players with venturing across “dreamlike levels” by controlling and manipulating the […]

  • Tropico 5 arrives on PS4 in April – video

    A release date for Tropico 5 on PlayStation 4 has been announced. This is the franchise’s first foray onto PlayStation consoles. It arrived in Europe on April 24 and in North America on April 28. A Limited Edition has also been announced, and it includes The Big Cheese DLC and the Bayo Del Olfato sandbox […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Limited Edition PS4 releasing in Asia

    A limited edition Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain PlayStation 4 system will be released in Asia. The system and its DualShock controller were designed in collaboration with Konami Digital Entertainment and targeted for the Asia region, per Gematsu. It will be released as part of PS4 Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain […]

  • This video shows Sid Meier’s Starships being played on iPad

    Sid Meier’s Starships will be released on iPad alongside Mac and PC, and to give you an idea on how it plays on the tablet, a new video has been released. Watch below as Pete Murray and lead producer Stuart Zissu show off the iPad version. The 4X space-strategy releases on March 12.

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood announced as standalone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone prequel to The New Order, will release May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The game takes pace in 1946, and and players take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz as he embarks on a two-part mission in Bavaria. Part one, Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves, […]

  • Observer Mode coming soon to Evolve as a free update

    Observer Mode will be released for Evolve as a free update for all platforms, 2K and Turtle Rock have announced. The community feature was designed to give Evolve players the ability to observe and add commentary as well as livestream, allowing a sixth user to “passively enter a custom game” with the ability to switch […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes and PS4 top Media Create charts in Japan

    The PlayStation 3 and PS4 skus for Dragon Quest Heroes were the top sellers on the Media Create charts in Japan, moving a combined 594,749 units. Elsewhere on the chart, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was in third place with 39,751 units moved, and last week’s top seller, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, […]

  • Watch Hideo Kojima answer lots of your burning Phantom Pain questions

    What’s better than learning the official release date of MGS5: The Phantom pain? Hideo Kojima talking more about it, of course! Hideo Kojima has decided to answer a few fan questions about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, to help boost everyone’s hype to insane levels. He talks about the game’s story, his relief […]

  • MGS5: The Phantom Pain Day 1 and Collector’s Edition revealed

    Konami has officially revealed the release date of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain alongside the game’s Day 1 and Collector’s Edition. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will release September 1, worldwide, as previously leaked. It will be available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The PC Steam […]

  • EU Club Nintendo: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack back in stock

    Club Nintendo members in Europe can once again pick up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack. For 3000 Stars, members of the program will receive the double-CD soundtrack which features 89 tracks with liner notes from Ryo Nagamatsu and 12 sheet music excerpts. It also comes with 16 Milk Bar Musician pieces. […]

  • HTC apologises over “confusing” Half-Life VR comments

    HTC has misspoke when it talked about Half-Life coming to VR headset Vive. HTC chairwoman Cher Wang has apologised over the comments she made yesterday about the possibility of Half-Life coming to Vive, the VR headset it’s manufacturing with the help of Valve. Sources close to Valve, have indicated to the BBC that the developer […]

  • What do Heists and Daily Objectives tell us about the future of GTA Online?

    Daily Objectives could be more important to GTA Online than Heists. These theories and more, from a giddy Matt Martin. Yesterday Rockstar dropped a bombshell. Not only is it releasing Heists next week – the mythical 4-player missions for GTA Online – but it’s also going to be introducing daily challenges and more modes to […]

  • Breaking down Hardline Premium, is it worth it?

    Having been announced just a few days ago, the Premium service for Battlefield Hardline has been a topic of constant debate among the Battlefield community. Many look at Hardline as a Battlefield off-shoot that will just tide everyone over until Battlefront comes out in the fall. EA has other plans however, announcing a $50 Premium […]

  • Watch Dogs sold more than GTA 5 and FIFA 15 in Australia in 2014

    Watch Dogs outsold GTA 5, and FIFA 15, at retail in Australia last year. According to data obtained by the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) from the NPD Group Australia, last year’s year retail sales charts look a bit different in Australia. The top-selling game was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, followed by Watch […]

  • Watch PC footage of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from GDC 2015

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a new gameplay video available that shows a bit of action from the PC version. The video below was captured from Nvidia’s GDC conference live-stream. Developer CD Projekt RED was on hand to show off The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s graphical prowess running on a PC. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.

  • Dying Light: Hard Mode and Ultimate Survivor Bundle out March 10

    Dying Light’s second DLC drop, the Ultimate Survivor Bundle, and the free Hard Mode, have been given a solid release date alongside a new trailer. Dying Light developer Techland has confirmed that the Ultimate Survivor Bundle, the game’s second DLC drop, will release March 10. The DLC is part of the season pass, but will […]

  • Exploration puzzler Ether One is coming to PlayStation 4

    Ether One, the first-person exploration game that puts you in the minds of other people to help change events of their past is coming to PlayStation 4 this year. Ether One is coming to PlayStation 4 this year, developer White Paper Games announced at GDC 2015. A retail version will also be available alongside the […]