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  • Cloud News

    by Published on September 22nd, 2011 23:31
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    2. Cloud News

    Today is an important day that I have no doubt represents a true change to how we consume games.
    Itís hard to escape the conclusion that the rise of cloud computing will, in the fullness of time, come to dominate our digital lives. Browsing, working, playing Ė the cloud is a logical evolution in all of these sectors.
    Two big questions remain, however. When? And How? When will the UKís somewhat feeble internet infrastructure be stable enough to cope with it? And When will the public come to accept cloud services as equals or even superiors to current technology? And How will consumers want to consume this tech?
    In truth, Iím not sure the first point is as big an issue as some might believe. My Virgin Media 20MB connection is more than up to the task. And non-cable connection speeds are rapidly improving. Unless you live in the country, of course.
    BTís all-you-can-eat three month OnLive offer is great news for both OnLive and consumers. How well it will sit with BTís tightly regulated data usage rationing is a bigger question. If OnLive catches on, how long until BTís network begins to groan under the pressure?
    A bigger question, though is when will the public come to accept cloud computing as the norm. You have a dodgy internet connection? Then be ready to be locked out from your OnLive games until itís sorted. Again, not a problem for me Ė my home internet is rock solid. But I wouldnít fancy trying it at the office. Obviously thatís because Iím too busy working to play games. But in a hypothetical world where I do nothing all afternoon on a Friday, Iím not sure if our current internets Ė which struggle to stream a 720p video Ė are up to the task.
    At the moment all of my cherished data Ė photos of my daughter, my music and movie collection, my unfinished novels Ė sit safely on my PCís hard drive. Theyíre also backed up on an external drive. Would I be prepared to entrust that information to a remote server controlled by a faceless corporation? That, as we know now better than ever, is vulnerable to hacking and cyber attacks? Hmmm.
    But hereís the biggest question. How. How are consumers going to take to OnLiveís business model?
    I should say here that I think OnLiveís current proposition represents genuinely good value. Membership is free, and with it access to demos for dozens of games.
    The PlayPack bundle, usage of which is available via a thoroughly reasonable £6.99 per month subscription, includes a lot of very decent games including the likes of Borderlands, FEAR 3, Batman: Arkham Asylum, LEGO Batman, Homefront, the original Deus Ex, FlatOut, Just Cause 2, Tomb Raider: Underworld, Frontlines: Fuels of War, BioShock, STALKER, AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!, Hitman: Blood Money, Alpha Protocol, Mini Ninjas, Saints Row 2, Aliens vs Predator Classic, World of Goo, Puzzle Quest, Virtua Tennis 2009 and Unreal Tournament III.
    Premium, recent releases, however, will cost £39.99, with a 30 per cent discount for subscribers, bringing prices in line with the High Street. Roughly. This isnít quite a clear-cut as it sounds, though.
    In truth I never pay £39.99 for a game. In the interests of honesty, Iím lucky enough to be in the position where I get sent a lot of games. But I do buy games as well. Which are expensive, as you might have noticed. I honestly canít remember the last time I simply paid £40 for a game without either using Gamestation store-credit or taking advantage of a supermarket promo or High Street trade-in offer.
    None of which is possible with OnLive. It goes without saying that youíre never going to recoup some of that £39.99 by trading in your OnLive titles or selling them on eBay. Consumers are all too aware of this.
    Arguably though that isnít even the biggest problem. That is the question of ownership. Paying £39.99 to stream a game that exists on a remote server, the only connection to which you have is down your telephone line, is very different to paying £39.99 for something your physically own Ė be that on a disc or as 1s and 0s on your HDD.
    Even if the OnLive tech is completely flawless and your internet connection as solid as a cast-iron statue of an elephant plated in super-strong diamonds riding in a tank, this is the obstacle that OnLive must overcome. Are punters ready to pay premium prices to access rather than own a title?
    In truth I find it hard not to come to the following conclusion: OnLive tech does represent the future, but its business model does not.
    Iím really not convinced that the full price retail model is suited to this type of delivery system. And as much as the subscription market in sectors like the MMO is falling massively out of favour, in the cloud gaming field I think itís a natural fit. Imagine a £9.99 per month deal for unlimited access to all of OnLiveís games. Even £14.99 a month. Thatís a tempting offer, as long as OnLive can offer every title available on the market.
    Still, thatís not the future I see for cloud gaming. OnLive is still held back by another very important factor Ė consoles. All the PC games in the world will always struggle to compete with triple-A console offerings.
    Can OnLive ever hope to deliver these? Not ...
    by Published on September 22nd, 2011 23:23
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    2. Cloud News

    Itís all the industry is talking about today, and new streaming games service OnLive is doing all it can to ensure the public is just as enthused.
    As well as its any game for £1 deal for new users of the service, OnLive is also offering a fantastic freebie for those who pre-order Saints Row 3.
    If you pledge to but THQís game for £34.99 then OnLive will supply you with a free Microconsole and joypad worth £69.99.
    Of course, the Microconsole isnít needed to access OnLive Ė that can be done via a PC or Mac. But using the hardware allows gamers to directly access OnLive via their TV or HMDI-enabled monitor.
    Furthermore, sign up for the £6.99 PlayPack subscription and users get 30 per cent of all purchases.
    That makes a total of £24.49 for Saints Row 3 and the OnLive hardware for all those who commit to a subscription.

    by Published on September 22nd, 2011 23:09
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    2. Cloud News

    Steve Perlman, CEO of OnLive, the cloud gaming service whichlaunched overnight in the UK, believes that the console cycle as we know it is a thing of the past.
    In an interview to be published later today, Perlman explains: "In my view, there probably will not be another high-end console. We don't know of any in the works, the developers have not received any prototypes and the Wii U is not that, it's a different kind of thing. I think that this is the next console."
    While OnLive currently runs games at inferior resolutions to their PC equivalents, Perlman says it is capable of much more. As broadband speeds improve over time, OnLive will be able to serve higher-quality images to the same hardware - removing the need for a new console every five years.
    "We'll start doing 4k resolution games," he claims. "We can do it in the lab [now], 4096x2048 in full 3D - that's the type of resolution Avatar would be projected in a theatre. We can make that work...developers can go and do what they've been wanting to and go crazy with the kind of realism that can be achieved."
    It's a bold claim, but has its basis in fact. Microsoft and Sony insist Xbox 360 and PS3 will be around for ten years; Wii U does not appear to be a significant graphical improvement over the current generation. Central to the cloud's appeal is the fact that server-side improvements can be made without requiring anything of the end user, and Perlman is convinced that OnLive users will, in the fullness of time, be playing high-end games on a £70 set-top box, or their existing PCs and tablets.
    Our full interview with Perlman - in which we discuss the UK launch, the GameStop Deus Ex debacle, and why OnLive has partnered with one of the worst ISPs in the country - will be published later today.

    by Published on September 22nd, 2011 22:30
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    2. Cloud News
    Article Preview

    OnLive promised that it was coming, and the company has now brought its cloud-based gaming service to the UK right on schedule. That, of course, is identical to the service elsewhere, which lets you play a variety of PC games on any supported platform, including OnLive's own game system. UK gamers can also take advantage of a range of promotions coinciding with the launch, including their first OnLive PlayPass Game for £1 (up to a £39.99 value), and a free OnLive Game System to those attending the Eurogamer Expo (while quantities last, of course). Those interested can sign up and start playing right now at the link below.

    by Published on September 19th, 2011 23:06
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    2. Cloud News

    While cloud streaming service Gaikai can be controlled with a variety of devices, CEO David Perry told Gameindustry.biz that he intends for the company to come up with a controller of its own. "I have my own ideas for what a controller needs to be," he said. "I've been collecting controllers to demonstrate my point on what needs to be done. I've been starting to look into how that can be made at a sensible price as it's quite a complex device, so we'll see. But for the minute our plan is to support as many things as can be plugged in or go through Bluetooth. Whatever your favourite controller is."

    http://www.next-gen.biz/news/perry-w...kai-controller ...
    by Published on September 16th, 2011 22:04
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    2. Cloud News

    Ambitious cloud gaming service Gaikai is targeting 100 million users by the end of 2012, according to CEO David Perry.
    The company has passed the previous 10 million target through affiliates, with Perry likening the business to that of retail giant Amazon rather than any other company in the games space.
    "We are targeting 100 million as quickly as we can possibly get there," he said, speaking in an exclusive interview published today. "We need to get above the reach of any single game entity in the industry a quickly as we can.
    The ability to pull a lever and have a million people play your gameÖ that will be really quite straight forward.
    David Perry, Gaikai

    Using affiliate websites - retailers, entertainment destinations - Gaikai can place games directly in front of established audiences, with Perry claiming it's easy to hit another one million users at the touch of a button.
    "The ability to pull a lever and have a million people play your game is something that's crazy to even think about today. That's a very difficult problem, yet with cloud gaming that will be really quite straight forward. A normal way of thinking will be, 'I want another million and another million'.
    "It turns out that the number one way to get people to buy is trying your product, and it's amazing that game trials are being made so difficult," he added.
    Perry is also aware of the amount of responsibility that places on the company, having to build a infrastructure for partners to reach huge audiences reliably - and that's part of the reason the company has only so far been offering demo content rather than full game streaming like rival OnLive.
    "We are a company doing this for other people. If this was just Gaikai and Gaikai has down time that's our problem. But if I'm doing it for Electronic Arts or someone else and it's down, then it's my problem big-time and everyone's going to be calling. If you just paid to play a game and you log in and it's not available for any reason you're going to get mad.
    "We're at a point now where the conversions that we're seeing on the partner sites are way higher than expected so now we want to go to full games. The problem with that is I need to offer Amazon-level 'always up' service time."
    The full interview with Perry, where he also discusses the complexity of building a dedicated Gaikai controller, modding and cloud gaming's 'dinosaur' moment, can be read here.


    by Published on September 16th, 2011 00:00
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    2. Cloud News

    Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz at GDCE, Carl Jones, director of global business development for Crytek, voiced his concerns over the current enthusiasm for cloud gaming.
    "It's maybe that the concept has come before we were ready for it as an industry," he said in an interview published today.
    "We're just trying to throw things at it right now and I'm not sure if that's going to make people money. And whether or not the consumer needs it."
    He agreed that OnLive and Gaikai were doing great things, but identified one very practical issue at the heart of the cloud gaming problem.
    "You talk to anyone whose been in the online gaming business for the last five years and they'll tell you that server costs have not gone down," he argues.
    You talk to anyone whose been in the online gaming business for the last five years and they'll tell you that server costs have not gone down.
    Carl Jones, Crytek

    "Because if you just take Crysis or Crysis 2, run it on the cloud, every extra gamer you add in needs a lot more processing power and that costs a lot of money."
    He was hopeful for the future though, predicting games being distributed to multiple devices via the cloud, and designers coming up with new ways to use the service.
    "I think what's going to happen now is that we're going to start seeing people designing games for the cloud, designing technology for the cloud and making the best use of it."


    by Published on September 8th, 2011 21:06
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    2. Cloud News

    Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, strongly believes that cloud gaming technology will massively improve education.
    "I've been working on an education project for about 10 years now," said Bushnell, speaking at the Cloud Gaming Conference USA, "and it turns out that educating children and computers go together."
    "If you go into a class of fifth graders - say there's 30 of them - and they all have computers, I guarantee you that 10-15 per cent of these computers do not work. They're virus infected nightmares. Every time you have a company that has 30-40 computers, the system's administration of all those computers is a nightmare."
    Bushnell cites the reason for this being that children are naturally curious and will inadvertently break the computers. "Does that mean you're a bad kid? No. It means you're just messing with the system which is what we're genetically programmed to do."
    This wouldn't be an issue on the cloud, Bushnell notes. "In cloud gaming you disconnect the system's administration from the computer to the cloud... It's going to be an important step for allowing technology into the classroom."
    Bushnell added that he's been testing software for years to improve education. "We've been in hundreds of classroom with 40,000 kids. We are currently teaching subjects 10 times faster. We believe that when we roll this up to full curriculum we'll be able to teach a full career of high school in less than a year. And we think we'll be able to do that by the end of next year."
    "That's a lot of time to chase girls and have fun," he joked.
    Freeing up leisure time is only a small part of Bushnell's overall goal. He finds the real issue in America to be much graver.
    "Our public school is a disaster," he said, adding "It's creating an underclass that will erode the foundation of our society. The kids who happen to have won the lottery and been born to rich parents can survive. The parents make sure the kids are either in private school or something. The kids who have lost the lottery are being put into schools with dysfunctional teachers."
    His solution to use software in conjunction with teachers will benefit everyone, stating, "If we can have a kid learn twice as fast we can pay teachers twice as much."
    "I believe education is the most important thing that we can do to fix the world."


    by Published on September 8th, 2011 21:02
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    2. Cloud News

    For his keynote presentation at Cloud Gaming USA in San Jose, THQ CEO Brian Farrell spoke of the various opportunities that come with gaming in the cloud and what that could mean for THQ.
    He predicts that future consoles won't have disc drives, hypothesising that this "will result in a lower cost for the hardware manufacturer, which will result in a lower cost to consumers and therefore a lower entry point, thus driving more mass market adoption."
    Furthermore, this would save money for game developers and publishers since there'd be "no physical goods cost for game makers. No inventory, no markdowns, and all the money spent by the consumer would go to the developer or publisher."
    Farrell also thinks cloud gaming will help build a stronger relationship with the community by delivering more custom tailored content. "Our games are always on and our players are always connected....We have the opportunity to interact with players in new ways that can be reactive to their desires, play habits, and buying habits."
    "The box, ship and done model is transitioning to: observe, measure, and modify," he added, explaining this as "a games as a service model where direct consumer feedback allows the ability to operate in this always on, always connected environment."
    This will put lots of emphasis on post-launch content. "We intend to create an online digital ecosystem with the consumer that keeps them interested for almost a year, perhaps even longer. And we expect most of our large console games going forward will extend the base experience with DLC packs. Things like online in-game storage, and consumables and other online items that will go on for at least a year post-release."
    THQ's upcoming Saints Row: The Third will have more than 40 weeks of DLC, Farrell revealed, "which will grow and change the experience as the consumer engages with the game."
    This focus on adaptation will open up lots of potential new business models. Farrell expressed lots of interest in the "freemium model" as well as subscriptions and episodic content. "Frankly we think the business model will vary based on the type of content being offered," though admitted it was too early to tell what these dominant models will be.
    "We're starting to see a world where players can pay different amounts based on preferences with casual players paying a small amount, and more hardcore or passionate players investing more into their experience."
    Farrell expressed THQ's willingness to experiment with new pricing models, citing MX vs ATV Alive as an example. Rather than selling a $59.99 game, THQ opted to sell the game for $39.99 with lots of optional content. "But what we found was unlike free to play, $39.99 just wasn't low enough to drive a big enough install base to push the level of DLC we had initially hoped for."
    Not being tied to specific console opens up new possibilities for consumers as well. Farrell discussed the idea of playing variations of a game on multiple platforms. "You might primarily play a game on your PC, yet play subgames on your phone then share stats and improve your progress in the main game."
    "Technology alone will not give a clear benefit to the consumer," Farrell cautions. "Cloud computing and data storage could potentially do a lot, but it's what we do with it as game designers and publishers that really matters most."


    by Published on September 6th, 2011 23:10
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    2. Cloud News

    Through some clever patching, OnLive community members have found a way to run OnLive on Linux using Wine. While the fix isn't perfect, this is a giant leap for Linux users wanting to play the latest games without the need for Windows. Linux users can now play several high quality games like the new Deus Ex with very few performance issues and on lower end hardware."

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