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Gaikai's Nanea Reeves

The chief strategy office details growth through affiliate, developer and retail partner schemes

Hired for her background in e-commerce, Nanea Reeves joined Gaikai last November from Electronic Arts' global online business, and at E3 this year she met with GamesIndustry.biz to discuss expansion at Gaikai, as well as demoing various instances of the streaming service working on web-connected TVs, tablets and embedded in Facebook.

In this exclusive interview, we discuss the growing acceptance of streaming and cloud technology, intentions to expand the Gaikai affiliate scheme to a target of 10 million monthly active users, early prototyping of TV and hardware for specific formats, and adding value for publishers and developers through additional in-game features.

GamesIndustry.biz Can you start with a little about your background and your role at Gaikai?
Nanea Reeves

[I've been] working on digital distribution in the games industry for a while, that was my permanent focus in EA. So when I met with David it was a natural progression to just go "wow." I have more of a traditional e-commerce background and then came into the games space about ten years ago when the two started to come together. And so it's been a really fun arena for me to kind of bring that e-commerce focus to the digital transition.

GamesIndustry.biz Your background was in e-commerce before you joined Electronic Arts. It must have been interesting seeing that transition of games adopting digital payments. It's been a fast transition.
Nanea Reeves

A lot faster than people thought, because I set up a lot of that at EA early on, and then also in the mobile space – I did a lot of digital distribution across multiple devices. Which in a way is very similar to what Gaikai is doing as well, you know the fact we're streaming video allows us to get that content out to any device that can accept a video stream.

Our main goal is to immediately have a target of ten million monthly active users through our affiliates

GamesIndustry.biz I think the speed and evolution of this market has caught a lot of people, international games publishers, by surprise.
Nanea Reeves

It's because you need to have a different kind of DNA in the company as well, and so John Riccitiello [EA CEO] was very aware of that when he came in at EA and started really beefing up a lot of that. And you can see the benefit that EA has now as a result of really focusing on digital with their acquisition agenda. There are some publishers who are going to need to catch up or they won't survive.

GamesIndustry.biz I think it's probably too late to catch up for some publishers.
Nanea Reeves

For us, that's a big focus for our business and what makes us different from other cloud gaming companies out there is our whole posture is to help enable people to grow their digital and accelerate their digital strategy. So focusing on that whole discovery engine and using that to drive more conversions, direct to consumer. And then we can even transition to the full delivery of the content, whether it be through a stream or a download. So I think that whole other management layer, to shopping cart checkout, that's really e-commerce.

We saw a big opportunity that it's not too late, we can jump in and help you do that. And we don't want to own the customer, we can help you grow your own customer base, and I think that's the big difference between us and companies like OnLive who've done a great job. They're really the only other company who've set up a network like we have.

GamesIndustry.biz There's really only you two in this space that are showing growth and momentum.
Nanea Reeves

The difference between us is really in the business model. They are a consumer destination, they own the customer, and they have to navigate that. We want to just facilitate you to get up and running, and however you want to structure the relationship with the end user we can do it for you or we can integrate with your existing systems. Much more friendly.

GamesIndustry.biz Tell us about the Gaikai Affiliate Network and your plans for that.
Nanea Reeves

Our main goal is to immediately have a target of ten million monthly active users that we're trying to address in the aggregate, through taking all of our affiliates like The Escapist, like our Eurogamer announcement, and all the other ones we're signing up right now through our website that we just launched. And our first target is to get ten million monthly uniques that we can push these game experiences out to as a way to help the publishers and the online retailers address more audience.

GamesIndustry.biz What's your deadline for that 10 million figure?
Nanea Reeves

We want to target it fairly quickly before the fall. That's our big goal. We think we can get there very quickly by turning on a few key partner. Obviously The Escapist has a big reach, Eurogamer does, so we could get there fairly quickly.

GamesIndustry.biz You must have been speaking to TV manufacturers about this technology. If you get a browser in the TV, there's no need for a console any more. And TV manufacturer's don't traditionally make great margins on TVs, they're very expensive to make and ship and consoles take advantage of the screen, it's not the manufacturers benefiting from the game on their TV...

Any device that can accept a video stream over the air we can deliver content to. The primary focus of our development team is to enable prototypes and proof of concept on each one of those devices

Nanea Reeves

Yes, we are [talking to TV manufacturers]. So any device that can accept a video stream over the air we can deliver content to. The primary focus of our development team is to spend time really enabling prototypes and proof of concept on each one of those devices. With the TVs we will be shipping a controller with the TV as a separate accessory.

GamesIndustry.biz But then does Gaikai have to get into hardware manufacturing itself?
Nanea Reeves

No, it can be a joint venture. Again, it's stuff we're already prototyping. We've got default iPad, iPhone controllers.

GamesIndustry.biz Have you already got a partner in place?
Nanea Reeves

It's not something that we're ready to announce just yet. We're looking at it. We're definitely looking at it. Because, you know, if our business is to help all of the partners scale their business we have to be ready across multiple fronts. And the nice thing about this solution is that it doesn't require any custom chip to be included in the device or separate unit. We're straight on the existing infrastructure.

But really I think our big focus right now is growing that affiliate work and getting that to happen. And then you get the buy offer here, and that offer can be fine tuned. We're seeing very nice lifts in conversion.

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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