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Businesses Cloud Sony Games

Sony To Acquire Cloud Gaming Company Gaikai for $380 Million 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the streamed-gaming-has-officially-arrived dept.
Sony announced today that they've entered into an agreement to acquire Gaikai, Dave Perry's cloud gaming company, for $380 million. Sony said they will use the company to "establish a new cloud service" which will provide a "broad array of content ranging from immersive core games with rich graphics to casual content anytime, anywhere on a variety of internet-connected devices." The Digital Foundry blog discusses what this means for the gaming industry: "What the deal represents is acceptance from a major console platform holder that gaming is fast approaching its own Netflix or iPod moment — the point where convenience and accessibility to content becomes more important than the inevitable hit to fidelity demanded by the underlying technology. ... The quality of the experience comes down to two specific factors: image integrity and control response. The former is going to require significant increases in bandwidth, because the current 5mbps level needs to rise to 10-15mbps to really solve the artifacting issues that are present in the first-gen cloud systems as they stand right now. But in a world where top-end UK internet connections have leapt from 2mbps to 100mbps in less than a decade, this is only a matter of time."
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Sony To Acquire Cloud Gaming Company Gaikai for $380 Million

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  • by swschrad (312009) on Monday July 02, 2012 @12:33PM (#40518029) Homepage Journal

    Sony is notorious for awful takeovers, and this one could also turn into a black hole.

  • The quality of the experience comes down to two specific factors: image integrity and control response. The former is going to require significant increases in bandwidth, because the current 5mbps level needs to rise to 10-15mbps to really solve the artifacting issues that are present in the first-gen cloud systems as they stand right now

    Wouldn't it be infinitely cheaper and just as effective at keeping the upgrade treadmill running and the pirated copys stopped to merely upload maps and textures, rather than trying to run a whole video connection across the net? Essentially MMORPG already have no RPG unless you count middle school playground as RPG, now just remove the MM, leaving a "O" game?

    • by alen (225700)

      but then it wouldn't be as cool

      streamed bits are a lot cooler than playing them local

      it's like streaming a movie vs watching a blu ray. the streamed is so much better

    • The idea behind Cloud gaming is that you can have one device that can play games on many platforms and complexities. The whole point is to do the heavy rendering and calculations on the server and stream the result to the client, so that you don't have to keep upgrading when a new console comes out, or when a game's hardware requirements go up.
      • by vlm (69642)

        Yeah, that was kind of my point that bandwidth is much more expensive than video cards. Lets say they're streaming out high def video, so you need a decent reasonably recent nvidia card just to run vdpau or whatever the windows equivalent is. So the net change in hardware cost is zero yet the net change in bandwidth cost is immense.

        ON the other hand, as I guy who likes strategy gaming and (real) RPGs and hex based military combat something like a "VNC" server access to a hosted game is kinda interesting.

        • by gman003 (1693318)

          High-end, not really. Even the current batch of Intel integrated GPUs can handle 1080p video decompression. You can do it with a $50 bottom-of-the-line GeForce.

          Gaming, though, still requires a decent GPU. $100-$150 for the low end. So hardware costs won't decrease if you just stream the game data (as opposed to streaming video).

          But what *would* matter is latency. If the rendering is done IN THE CLOUD!, that means latency becomes an even bigger deal. Instead of just having to deal with controller->compute

    • by mypalmike (454265)

      > Wouldn't it be infinitely cheaper and just as effective at keeping the upgrade treadmill running and the pirated copys stopped to merely upload maps and textures, rather than trying to run a whole video connection across the net?

      The video-connection approach means any game engine can be adapted to or built for this model fairly easily without any specialized content download infrastructure.

  • If my controller cant respond because of random latency issues I won't use their service. How they are planning to address latency would be more important to me. Games like Arkham Asylum and City only work because the you don't need fine controller actions to play. My brother can competently play while looking away from the screen and just clicking the mouse at random. Real games that require real timing and control don't work well when latency is involved.
    • How they are planning to address latency would be more important to me. Games like Arkham Asylum and City only work because the you don't need fine controller actions to play.

      I imagine that they'll handle it just as you said: choose games in genres not associated with "fine controller actions". It'd be the same way that mobile developers have had to choose games in genres not requiring "fine controller actions" due to the limits of a completely flat touch screen.

    • by AaronLS (1804210)

      Agreed. For any type of real time game, latency has more impact in this architecture. Often with an FPS, there is client side prediction which emulates what the server models. You hit a key and your computer models the reaction so you see the result/feedback immediately. Sometimes you see artifacts where something is repositioned 50ms later, but that only happens when another action that your client wasn't aware of, another player's action, changes things on the server. In most cases, it takes 50ms for

      • by tepples (727027)

        Sometimes you see artifacts where something is repositioned 50ms later, but that only happens when another action that your client wasn't aware of, another player's action, changes things on the server.

        And in something like a fighting game, "another player's action" may happen multiple times a second. How should a game work around that?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        There was a paper a while back where an author showed that most video games, when considered as end-to-end systems, had latency of well over 100ms between a button press and that action being reflected on the display. Even 'fast' video games, like Street Fighter, had over 60ms latency. Someone who is willing to dive into the guts of a system and streamline this process can definitely buy themselves enough time for a network call.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          "Press key, process key, display result" will always be faster than "press key, send key to The Cloud, process key, receive frame from The Cloud, display frame". This might work almost well enough for turn-based games, or other games where lag is not a problem. For most games, it won't work. My games have enough lag as it already is, I'm not interested in adding any more.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Try playing an FPS on OnLive with a wired internet connection... I found it to be very playable.

            • by medv4380 (1604309)
              How about games like Mega Man, Ninja Gaiden (excluding 3), and other more Timing based games where a small timing mistake is a nice big game over. You could rewrite them to be more forgiving but gamers didn't exactly like Ninja Gaiden 3 being watered down so that anyone and their grandma could play. Typical FPS have a lot of built in slack designed around latency driven environment. Back when FPS were LAN only they were a lot less forgiving. In the end things like Halo feel like you're moving though mud
              • How about games like Mega Man, Ninja Gaiden (excluding 3), and other more Timing based games where a small timing mistake is a nice big game over.

                a. Humans aren't that fast.

                b. A lot of the button pushes people do are a chain of reflex actions and not a direct 1:1 response to what happens on the screen.

                It works better than you might expect.

  • cloud since its nothing other than a "cool" name for remote storage but I can see how all these companies are jumping on it. They haven't yet been able to fully crush the first sale doctorine so just stick everything in the cloud and viola no more software resales. Unfortunatly all it takes is a few % of the 6 billion of us to keep these fuckers going and keep gouging us.

    • The 'advantage' of the cloud is that you don't need to keep finding a way to create new features to get your users to buy an upgrade. They will keep paying you over and over, month after month, for the same software. Salesforce.com is the prime example.

      That may sound like a joke, but it is the #1 reason companies put their services on the cloud. There are other advantages, that actually do benefit the end-user in some cases, but that is not why cloud companies exist.
  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday July 02, 2012 @12:35PM (#40518055) Homepage Journal
    Content distributors move toward bandwidth-devouring "cloud" services.

    If ever one needed evidence that modern capitalism is an exercise in bleeding consumers dry, here ya go.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Content distributors move toward bandwidth-devouring "cloud" services.

      If ever one needed evidence that modern capitalism is an exercise in bleeding consumers dry, here ya go.

      Hasn't this always been the case? Charge the customers as much as they will tolerate, and when they start complaining, back down only enough to get them to buy from you again?

      Bonus CAPTCHA: "markets"

    • "If ever one needed evidence that modern capitalism is an exercise in bleeding consumers dry, here ya go."

      Oh, c'mon man. Cut them a little slack. Maybe they're just expanding into the Asian market.

  • They could use it to put rootkits on your computer... from a cloud!
    • by game kid (805301)

      Nah, in this case they'll root their own computers and stream you the video of the resulting chaos.

  • "because the current 5mbps level needs to rise to 10-15mbps" I wish I could get 5mbps for less than $100 a month. (up to 5mbps is in fact the fastest I can get if I'm willing to pay ~$165 a month) It's not like I live in the middle of nowhere either, I live in the SF bay area. Car analogy: I'm driving a car built in the 90s and they are telling me their new road won't work until people update their 2000 cars to 2010 cars and I already can't afford a 2000 car due to markups and nobody will sell a 2010 car
    • by bhcompy (1877290)
      And because it's the Bay Area, it's probably NIMBYs. "I don't want my street torn up so you can install fiber, my property value might temporarily decrease". Either way, with bandwidth caps the new rage, this type of service is a risky investment.
      • I doubt you're in the Bay Area. If anything, it's more the local monopolies (ATT and Comcast, sometimes without even competition from each other) who are able to extract astronomical prices without having to upgrade their infrastructure. But everyone else is either clamoring for Fiber, or for uncapped data pipes. That said, another problem could also be that for commercial use, the Bay Area is probably one of the best networked areas in the world. If you're a big company, you have access to nearly unlimited

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah the silicon valley golden age might run into issues down the line due to that. To compare: I have, included in my rent, 14/14 Mbps. If I want 100/100, that'll be $20/month.

      This, in a nowhere special normal Swedish town.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        So you're telling me you guys have hot babes AND fast internet? This sounds like a nerd's wet dream paradise :D

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Well, I *do* live in the middle of nowhere and I *can't* get 5Mbps without paying Ma Bell to run fiber to my house. The most anyone will sell me is 2Mbps over a wireless link. No DSL, no cable, though both are available within a mile of my house or less. It would be cheaper to move, not that I'm doing that.

    • by rezalas (1227518)

      The UK is a horrible example to use as a measurement of how long it takes for an area to change from 2Mbps to 100Mbps. The parts of the UK that have shifted are relatively dense and have a high HPM (homes per mile) to warrant the massive spending required to get equipment capable of supporting this kind of change. The physical topology of the UK when compared to other areas is miniscule (USA? India? China? Australia?) and relatively trivial. On the other hand, in the USA there are not only higher upgrade co

  • what this represents (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387)

    What the deal represents is acceptance from a major console platform holder that gaming is fast approaching its own Netflix or iPod moment

    I think what this represents is that Sony is being run by old execs who don't understand gaming, and aren't finding people who do.

    If they want to improve their viability in the gaming world, they should put their money into creating new interesting, great games; they should not be acquiring a new experimental platform whose major achievement is that it's buzzword compliant.

  • It sure seems like it with the incessant push to take physical, tangible games out of people's hands and replace them with ephemeral bits that are either downloaded (through a gate that others control, and thus revokable) or streamed (where you never see the actual game code at all, and thus once again revokable). When there aren't physical games for people to own and resell onto others, then one day future generations will see video games like current ones do the majority of the DuMont network's TV programming - not at all, as it won't exist in any form.

    • Begging companies to let you play games while never actually owning anything yourself is the future!

  • I live in London but I would still get faster speeds by IP over Avian Carriers [wikipedia.org] (USB drives now take several hundred gigs), and the latency is pretty identical to my average online experience.
  • Cloud Gaming should be used for demos and such to get people interested ... the upside there is that we don't have to download Gigabytes just to discover a game sucks. Should Sony stick with this kind of model rather than force us to go completely cloud-based, then it'll be a good thing. While many gamers may be tempted to "sell out" to the concept of cloud gaming that OnLive and others are pushing because of the convenience, you should go play Diablo 3 for a while and have that lovely experience of serve
  • Given the widespread adoption of 3D computing hardware at home, how does it benefit consumers to take all that power and move it onto the cloud? It seems like such a waste of bandwidth, not to mention an unnecessary concentration of computing power onto a few cloud-gaming sites.

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:40PM (#40518817) Homepage
    I hear tons of talk about Onlive and Gaikai from investor and analyst types but who is actually playing on these systems because I've never heard anyone actually say they use these systems.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    And that's the answer to why Sony just shelled out for Gaiki even when they're hemorrhaging money. They don't know what's going to happen to gaming as an industry, or where all that money's going to go. By hedging their bets their obviously hoping it's going to go somewhere they are currently at, so they'll easily be able to step up efforts in that area.

    This is happening all over the industry, CEO's have gotten into something of an indirect shouting match about their own "visions" of the future of gaming. C

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Monday July 02, 2012 @03:56PM (#40520487)

    Could this be one of those "buy out a threatening technology and bury it" maneuvers? I don't know how Gaikai and friends pay for the rights to the games they offer, but I strongly suspect they're giving Sony and other rightsholders a lot less money than Sony would make selling the actual games to consumers. Gaikai's business model is a lot like the old video rental stores, and Sony and friends spent two decades trying to destroy those.

    • So Sony buys this to kill something that also benefits the likes of Microsoft, Nintendo, and Apple (assuming next gen AppleTV plays iOS games). Sorry, but I don't buy that argument. All it does it hurt Sony with a load of debt. Of course, I could be wrong. Who am I to say.

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