Game publisher aims to improve upon OnLive’s technological missteps
Square Enix has announced Project Flare, a cloud gaming service similar to what OnLive offered back in 2010. Unlike OnLive, however, the game publisher asserts that the company’s service will offer a “technological breakthrough in cloud gaming.”
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took to the stage at CES 2013 Sunday night, and proved his company is poised to do more than just ship high end GPU’s. The charismatic young CEO announced his intention to take on cloud gaming, showed off his iPad 4-smashing Tegra 4 SoC, and even debuted an Android powered handheld gaming console.
Having far outstripped its original Kickstarter funding goal of $995,000, Android-based video game console Ouya has already earned a place in the annals of crowdfunding history. But the real challenge for the Ouya team will begin when the $99 machine hits the market next year, for their ultimate goal is building a great console. While the possibility of Ouya foundering under the weight of all this hype can not be ruled out, prenatal celebrity has its fair share of advantages too.
The recent leak of an internal Microsoft document related to the Xbox 360’s successor has brought to light the software giant’s wariness of cloud gaming services like OnLive, which it identified as a “potential acquisition target” in the 2010 document. Of course, no such acquisition has taken place so far. But if Microsoft is still considering buying a cloud gaming company, another less expensive company may be up for sale.
Hitherto, OnLive has been widely viewed as the cloud gaming industry’s poster child, but don’t be surprised if it eventually ends up getting overshadowed by its lesser known rival Gaikai. This is because the latter is joining forces with the world’s largest television manufacturer.
A few weeks back, we highlighted Nvidia's supercomputer-powered "GeForce Experience" initiative, which wants to use the power of the cloud to scan your hardware and offer one-click graphics setting optimization for PC games. Nvidia announced another cloud-based graphics platform at the same time: the GeForce Grid, a Kepler-based GPU that gaming services can use to power games at a remote location, then stream them to you over an Internet connection. (Think OnLive, but powered by Nvidia.) Nvidia boss Jen-Hsun Huang says he thinks Grid's potential for cross-platform ubiquity could break down barriers and create legions of new gamers.
Walmart has begun serving cloud-based game demos on the Game Center section of its site, having struck a one-year deal for the same with cloud gaming startup Gaikai. Like with any cloud gaming service out there, the graphics are rendered in the cloud and then streamed to the user’s browser - all in real time, thereby eliminating the need to download or install anything related to the game. Hit the jump to find out more.
While there is no dearth of solutions for streaming PC-based movies, music and pictures to your TV, the PC games in your personal collection are still “unstreamable.” Enter AfterCAD, and its GameString Adrenalin service, and personal PC game libraries will become just as “streamable” as other media content.
So what exactly is GameString Adrenalin? AfterCAD is calling it “personal cloud gaming.” It essentially allows for PC games to be played remotely from within any Flash- or HTML5-enabled web browser. The company has even posted a video (below) of World of Warcraft being played on Google TV.
"Our GameString technology represents the next generation in cloud gaming as it doesn't rely on downloads, plugins, java or obscure codecs to work. The proof is in the fact it works with the Google TV right out of the box while other cloud gaming services will have to write an app to run it on,” said Chris Boothroyd, CEO of Aftercad.
“For Game Publishers looking to leverage the cloud to spice up the production values for Flash based social games, it is clear our approach is the way of the future and the way to go."
OnLive will have to contend with a little more than just leery onlookers and lack of optimum internet infrastructure in a couple of months' time. Streaming games service Gaikai is now feature complete and due for a December, 2011 launch, according to the company's co-founder and CEO David Perry. While Gaikai can look ahead to the same challenges as its better-known and more experienced rival, its approach to cloud gaming is markedly different.
Gaikai will stream subscription-free game demos to Flash-capable web browsers. This is how the company describes the service on its website: “Just like publishers and developers, retailers pay by the minute for the time that games are streamed on their sites. Once the user finishes playing, they are directed to your store -- still high on the excitement of the demo -- to complete the sale. Giving visitors the chance to try games before they buy can help them overcome hestiation and can faciliate impulse buys.”
So it isn't really a direct rival to OnLive, at least not until it starts streaming full games, but things could change.
Cloud gaming startup OnLive has been vacillating on its monthly subscription fee from its very inception. While it initially set out to charge $14.95 per month for the streaming games service, it not only lowered the monthly fee to $4.95 just before launch, but also offered a free one year subscription to early adopters – those who signed up during the service's inaugural month. But the company seems to have finally found a solution to its pricing conundrum.
“Although we wish we could have confirmed no monthly fee from the get-go, pioneering a major new video game paradigm is hard: we had to first grow to a large base of regular users before we could understand usage patterns and operating cost,” Perlman wrote in a blog post.
“Now that we’ve reached that stage, we can confidently say a monthly fee is not needed, which deserves a double WOOT! WOOT!”