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Head in the Cloud

Dave Perry gives first details on his plans for cloud gaming outfit Gaikai, and why the competition is "doomed"

Cloud gaming was a big topic of discussion at the Game Developers Conference last week, prompted by OnLive's announcement that it was launching a games streaming service for Mac and PC. The service, it's claimed, will allow users to play the most high-end PC titles over the internet without owning or downloading the games, and without lag. The service should also be available for home TVs and monitors, with the addition of a set-top box.

A day after OnLive's announcement, former Shiny boss and creative director of Acclaim, Dave Perry, revealed he also had begun work on a similar streaming games service, Gaikai, which would not require any additional hardware beyond a broadband connection.

With fellow execs Andrew Gault and Rui Pereira, Gaikai is based in Amsterdam, and claims that through its Streaming Worlds service, any PC will be able to play cutting-edge games anywhere there's an internet connection - with nothing to install, not even a browser plug-in. Initial details on the service can be seen at the Gaikai website.

In this exclusive interview, Perry agreed to discuss some of the early ideas of Gaikai, although a big reveal is planned later this year at E3. Here he discusses creating a frictionless environment between content and user, why cloud gaming is the inevitable future, and why OnLive won't be able to compete with Gaikai. Where has the idea for Gaikai come from, and what's been holding such a service back?
Dave Perry

I've always had this dream of playing game I can't afford. And in a round about way, the issue is that the internet is not fast enough and therefore we've been held back. And the reality is with the right deals done with the right ISPs, we actually could achieve the bandwidth required to deliver incredible experiences today. The problem is it's going to require the support of major ISPs. So you're going to have to have servers in San Francisco, in Los Angeles, in New York, etcetera. Cloud gaming came up a lot at GDC this year, not only because of the OnLive announcement, but it was discussed in detail at the Luminaries Lunch by Will Wright, Warren Spector, Brian Fargo...
Dave Perry

Right, I think they got the taste, and these guys are on top of their game. When they started thinking about it they all at some point got to agree that this would change a lot about videogames. It would be a big deal, and they like the idea.

What happens is that any time a new platform comes out there's always a problem with it and we as designers try to get around the problem. Like the Nintendo Wii controller has inaccuracies but people try to work around it, and they end up making great games. With cloud computing, what most spoils the idea is ease of access, ease of use and all that stuff. Wouldn't it be convenient to have a whole bunch of games that you could just click and play? There's no question that it reduces the friction to almost zero. I don't even have to wait in the same way that when you put a CD or DVD into a player you have to wait for it to boot. All of that is gone, just imagine, firmware updates, all gone. As if price of consoles and software isn't a barrier, home hardware needs user attention before it can even play games. I know this is something that winds you up...
Dave Perry

I joke about the firmware updates on the PS3 but it's not funny because it really bugs me, every single time I go and turn on my PS3 I get this stupid message. And it's not quick. It's this big long process. And I sit there thinking I hope the power doesn't go while I'm doing this because it's always telling me not to switch off my machine. Why put me through that so much? It's funny because the concept of firmware updating is not a problem for me, I'm looking forward to the iPhone's 3.0 software, because I know it's going to be much better. I'll be excited to use the device afterwards. I'm not excited if it's a security patch, or a hacker patch, and I can't see any change on my console whatsoever. I have no problem with once a year or once every six months, but come on. Considering how close the games business says it is to its consumers, there's still these clumsy barriers in the way, and that's where cloud gaming comes in – in theory it's instant?
Dave Perry

It's something that we as users shouldn't have to deal with. I like the Update button on the iPhone because it's on my time. I don't have to update now, it never says 'you can't use your iPhone, you can't make any calls or anything until the handset is updated'. Making access as easy and seamless as possible is key. You should give hardware permission so that any down time it sees over the next three or four days it sneaks it in there but I don't have to see it myself. Is cloud gaming the inevitable evolution of videogames? Is this in effect, the realisation of the one console future?
Dave Perry

Do you like spending six or seven hundred dollars on consoles? I don't like spending all that money over and over and over. And I also don't like having to rifle through a shelf to get at a game. When Netflix came along and I could click on movies and they would show up, it seemed really convenient. I thought that was the best thing ever, until I used Netflix streaming. That's even better. I'm discovering movies I wasn't even aware of. To just click and get your content, that's the future, there it is on your screen. Can you imagine that with games? You're reading the review, and you read that the next Crysis game is phenomenal, and click – there it is. Now I'm playing it. Once you do that once or twice you will never ever want to go back.

Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: 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.