Microsoft: Onlive and Gaikai point the way forward

"Really exciting" work on cloud gaming for consoles is already underway

Microsoft's Brian Prince has described Onlive and Gaikai as models for the future of cloud gaming, Gamasutra reports.

In a talk at GDC China, Prince, a "cloud evangelist" for Microsoft, claimed that these nascent services provide an instructive roadmap for where gaming is headed.

"These are really gaming platforms as a service," he said. "There are some limitations here, but I really do think this is the distant future of gaming in the cloud."

Among the "limitations" Prince mentioned was their focus on "AAA PC game titles," to the point where developers working outside of that market won't attract much interest.

He also compared the role of a service like OnLive to that of a traditional publisher. "Sometimes publishers are a dream, but it's another contract you have to sign," he said.

Despite these concerns, OnLive and Gaikai are the main viable alternative to the costly process of developing a proprietary cloud infrastructure. Microsoft's Azure cloud service required billions of dollars to develop, with its six servers alone costing an estimated $2.5 billion.

Prince declined to talk directly about Microsoft's plans for cloud gaming on consoles, but he confirmed that, "you will be seeing things in the Xbox platform that's cloud-specific. I'm already doing it, it's really exciting, but I can't tell you about it or else I'll get fired."

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Latest comments (6)

Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd6 years ago
Brian Price, you're fired! :D
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Abraham Tatester Producer 6 years ago
If you're not too fussy about graphics, then OnLive is pretty great. I have a solid 20mbps connection and it still feels like playing a youtube video of a game. But I agree that cloud gaming is the way of the future—it makes sense on so many levels—it just may be the distant future...
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Richard Thomson Senior Software Engineer, Red Gaming6 years ago
I found the most important thing to do for onlive quality is set you monitor up for movies instead if games, looks a hell of a lot better that way....
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Show all comments (6)
Simon Dotschuweit MD SE / CTO, Dorado Games6 years ago
Did anyone ever considered what kind of investment you need to make this viable in the long run? Servers in the DCs needs to be replaced every 9 months on average and we are not talking cheap HW here. Then you have the bandwidth problem, as Abraham mentioned 20 mbit is still not enough for top notch quality, what kind of infrastructure would you need for 1M simultaneous users around the globe all expecting top quality and being used to playing free 2 play? Cloud gaming might be more interesting in a very distant future when everyone has their personal 100 mbit+ line and HW capabilities keeps growing faster than what games utilize, but right now it doesn't feel like games running on the client side will disappear any time soon ;)
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Paul Shirley Programmers 6 years ago
OnLive on a solid 10Mbit, low latency connection fell well below my already low rendering quality expectations. Right now 10Mbit is well above average for the UK and we're years away from most users reaching even that inadequate speed.

The real killer was latency. Motion sickness almost instantly kicked in. Latency is right at the edge of what's acceptable and over it for the most sensitive.

Far distant sounds right, even if network speeds get where they need to be the latency issue won't be easy to improve.
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Mark Raymond Gamer; Consumer; Blogger 6 years ago
The idea of two SKUs, one a set-top box and another a fully loaded console, makes a great deal of sense. Microsoft wants the living room space and can't afford to cede it to cheaper products, like Apple TV or the Wii U (assuming it will be under £200).

With regards to timing, sales look great now, but they need to be aware of the possibility of a sharp decline in 2012, which Nintendo or Sony could capitalise on. The Loop could be their interim product to maintain interest and market share, with a full bodied console launching some time after.
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