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Gaikai network to scale according to demand

Mon 20 Jul 2009 7:24am GMT / 3:24am EDT / 12:24am PDT
Business

Streaming games solution will demand 55ms ping and 1.5mpbs connection, says Perry

Gaikai co-founder David Perry has revealed some of the technical aspects of the streaming games service - a competitor to OnLive - including the company's plan to scale up to demand, as opposed to a "peak traffic solution".

Perry, also chief creative officer at Acclaim and CEO of GameInvestor.com, told GamesIndustry.biz during an interview at last week's Develop Conference that doing it that way would save a lot of money in the long run.

"Well, there are two different approaches - one, you build a network that's gigantic and hope people come, and the other is to build a network based on demand," he explained, going on to detail why the first approach was no good.

"If you advertise for traffic - imagine I was to go in all the movie theatres, or put banner advertising all over Brighton, for example - and all these people show up, there better be servers for them. If there isn't, then all that peak traffic that came in is going to be wasted.

"You can't have that, so you have to build a network that's ready for the peak traffic, and there will be lulls in that traffic, and you'll have servers eating power... it's quite a complex equation. If you were making that order, how many would you order on day one? That's the peak traffic solution, that's what OnLive is going to have to solve.

"For us we're the exact opposite - we're doing a scaling solution," he went on. "Say we only have one server in the whole world, and that server can deliver about 3500 new players to a publisher during a month, based on the number of hours, if they do one hour each.

"It's going to be up to the player to decide if they want to continue playing that game, but assuming it's good, you'll have a healthy conversion from playing to wanting to continue.

"Why does that work? Because it keeps the cost down for everybody. We have no servers running, and I didn't spend USD 150 million, with the interest on USD 150 million burning away as I hope people are going to show up.

"That's basically the model - every time we hit maximum capacity, we order more servers," he added.

Perry also outlined the latency ceiling and connection speeds that will be required to play games via Gaikai at 55ms and 1.5mbps respectively.

"I spoke to the Guitar Hero guys at E3 and asked them what an acceptable latency for Guitar Hero and they told me 55ms - so that gives you an idea," he said. "Now, we're not intending to run such twitch-heavy games as Guitar Hero, so our goal has been to stay sub-100ms, but we'd like to be 55ms if we can - but we'll use that as a way to work out where to put the servers. So every time we see somebody that's more than that, where they get a crazy ping time, we're going to put servers in that area - and we're going to do that continuously.

"Our goal is to deliver games on any sensible bandwidth connection to the biggest audience possible... and I don't want to rule you out because your connection is 1.5mbps. OnLive is looking for 2-6mpbs, and that's a lot to expect."

The first part of the interview with David Perry is available now.

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