Western gamers have had "little exposure" to cloud gaming

Survey finds that users unaware of services, but interests rise once educated

The Western gaming audience has had little exposure to cloud gaming despite its two most prolific proponents - OnLive and Gaikai - claiming engagement with millions of users.

Consumer-focused service OnLive doesn't give out user figures but claims to be reaching "millions" of users in press statements, while Gaikai's business-to-business technology has been adopted by the majority of games publishers, YouTube, retailers such as Walmart and social networking site Facebook.

But according to a report by Interpret which surveyed digital gamers in ten countries, players in markets such as the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia have low familiarity levels with cloud gaming, ranging between 3 and 5 per cent.

However, once educated on the possibilities of cloud gaming - streaming high-end PC games to low spec hardware without the need for downloads - interest levels rose significantly.

52 per cent of digital gamers in the US said they were very or somewhat interested in cloud gaming services, followed by 49 per cent of Australians and 46 per cent of UK gamers.

French and German players were less interested at 36 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively.

Earlier this week Sony Computer Entertainment acquired cloud gaming service Gaikai for $380 million, a move that Interpret VP Michael Cai called "a strategic move that provides a path for the gradual migration of gaming to the cloud."

"This acquisition is well aligned with Sony's transition from a hardware-centric to network-centric company," he added. "Furthermore, Sony stands to capitalise on its established relationship with young male gamers - in Western countries, males 13-34 comprise one third to one half of those very interested in trying a cloud gaming service."

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Latest comments (8)

Paul Shirley Programmers 7 years ago
If only they'd gone on to find out what happens when those 'very interested' punters actually try it. I started very interested, tried it, became not very interested at all - just another one of OnLive's millions of users that don't in fact use it.
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Christopher Chambers Games Research Analyst, Electronic Arts7 years ago
Yep Tom, that's exactly how I feel about it.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Christopher Chambers on 6th July 2012 5:05pm

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Hugo Trepanier Senior Game Designer, Ludia7 years ago
The only time I use cloud gaming services with the current state of the technology is to try out games that don't have demos. Then I decide if it's worth the full price for the disc-based copy to enjoy the real HD no-lag experience.
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James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada7 years ago
When reporting on findings like these, the name of the report or a link to it would be helpful, so industry folks can see the data.

Tom, I think 100mb is probably vast overkill, but in principle, I agree. Bandwidth caps, throttling, and traffic shaping are likely going to be bigger short-term concerns for uptake of users though.

I tried Gakai a few months ago, and was able to get into playing Crysis within a few minutes via browser, and the experience was quite good. I tried an indie RPG (2d graphics, nothing intensive) via OnLive, and the experience was terrible - bandwidth got throttled, and it's already-basic appearance was distorted to near unusability.
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You fail to say what happens to that interest after they experience the realities of cloud gaming... laggy play and inferior visual quality.

Everybody's marketing line sounds interesting. But its seldom the reality of the product experience and this is especially true in over-hyped areas like so called "cloud gaming."
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Zero lag is impossible. Einstien proved that.

Lag low enough that you don't notice it unlikely over any significant distance. What can be done, and is done, is that games that are actually designed as client/server internet games play many tricks to hide that lag for you. But games like that don't need and can't use what OnLive and GaiKai offer.

GaiKai was smart enough to position themselves in the demos space, where full game quality is not needed. As a general way to play games however? So called "cloud gaming" only ups the total execution expense and degrades the performance.
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James Boulton Owner, Retro HQ Ltd7 years ago
Yeah, zero lag is obviously impossible, however if you're talking about console games then something along the lines of 30-50ms (2-3 frames) is normal. This is generally imposed by the rendering architecture, and is unnoticeable (to me at least).

A ping of sub 50ms seems perfectly plausible, bringing a total lag of something like 100ms. However you may get a couple of frames additional lag due to video encoding (I'm no expert in this field, but I assume there is going to be a lag). So it all adds up, but is probably not the killer problem for me.

For me, the biggest issue is stability of internet connection. At peak times the throughput drops, and I sometimes get weeks where my connection is extremely slow due to odd network issues at the ISP.

I think any downtime like this for a streaming games service will turn people off entirely -- you want to play games when you have the time to play them. If the service is unavailable or unusable you'll go elsewhere.

However, all of this will only improve. It will be very interesting to see where it all goes, I have an open mind, but am slightly sceptical at the moment!
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Emily Rose Freelance Artist 7 years ago
I like playing rpgs and turn based games, the slower pace is perfect for current cloud gaming (my computer is good so I use it for the convenience of not having to install on my tiny SSD), and I guess people don't watch much youtube, there was a time a few months back where you got an onlive ad every single video... to be fair most youtube watchers are Asian, so maybe there's a link here.

I have a feeling that cloud gaming is more suited to consoles, since they are already laggier and lower performing than pc gaming, so it's not as much of a drop in expected performance, especially as console gamers seem to value convenience more than pc gamers...
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