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Networking The Internet Games

Gaikai Drawing Interest With Low-Key Demo, Believable Claims 121

Earlier this week, we discussed news that games industry veteran Dave Perry had posted a demo of his upcoming cloud gaming service Gaikai. Now that people have had time to speak with Perry and evaluate the demo, reaction has been surprisingly positive. Quoting Eurogamer: "What struck me about the presentation was that there was absolutely nothing unbelievable in it whatsoever. There were no claims of streaming 720p gameplay at 60 frames per second — games were running in differently sized windows according to how difficult they were to compress, and video itself runs at the internet standard 30FPS. There was no talk of world-beating compression systems that annihilate the work of the best minds in video encoding today, the demo was using the exact same h264 codec that we use ... And finally, there was nothing here to suggest that we were looking at a technological breakthrough that would make our PS3s and Xbox 360s obsolete... just that this was a brand new way to play games in an ultra-accessible manner." By contrast, OnLive was received with much more criticism, in part due to their dramatic promises. While playing online games with Gaikai will naturally add some amount of latency, the article points out that single-player games need not lag more than you'd expect from a console controller. Meanwhile, unlike OnLive, Gaikai is not trying to compete directly with the major console manufacturers, instead trying to work with them in order to deliver their first-party games to new audiences.
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Gaikai Drawing Interest With Low-Key Demo, Believable Claims

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  • this is DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:00PM (#28588961)

    Stop giving it press.

    Gaming is already ultra-accessible, this is the solution to a problem that, for consumers, doesn't exist. The only people this will benefit is the game companies.

    I will not rent my game software.

  • Re:this is DRM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:13PM (#28589045)
    It depends though. For some things, yes, there is no point in me playing my 360 games on my laptop rather than on my console if I'm just in a different room. However, if I can use a netbook (rather than a $2000 15 pound gaming notebook) paired with in-flight wi-fi and play my 360 games on the airplane, it might be worth it.
  • by blitzkrieg3 ( 995849 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:14PM (#28589049)

    Its not a good sign when a company who makes most of the classic games that people remember rejects your ideas, and I'm not sure Sony or MS wants to jump on the bandwagon (though it wouldn't surprise me if MS bought the company if they managed to turn out a decent product).

    The console manufacturers have everything to lose and nothing to gain by helping out. If this service succedes no one will be buying specalized gaming systems anymore and this company will be buying comodity hardware to run these games. At best they could each have their own roku type box that connects to the service. Even with the pc games eventually this company will end up wanting volume licensing and start taking a cut of the sale.

    This is like going to EMI and asking to license their entire catalog for a new mp3 downloading website. Eventually Apple and Amazon got them to do it, but this is like asking them in 2001.

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:17PM (#28589055) Homepage Journal

    How exactly are they reducing the latency from the controller to the cloud? Let alone the roundtrip latency of the video/sound.

    Anything more than 100ms ping time is gunna kill this thing.

  • by WillyWanker ( 1502057 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:38PM (#28589161)
    Hardly. Console manufacturers don't make money on the hardware, they make money on the software. Those that want the best experience (hi-def, surround sound, etc.) will still buy the hardware. Those that don't or can't afford to now don't have to. But they still need to buy the games. Cha-ching! You've now sold a game to someone who didn't have a console. How exactly is this going to hurt them?

    And EMI's stupidity in not embracing 21st century technology shouldn't be held up as a banner example. I'd like to think gaming companies are a tad bit smarter than the recording industry.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 05, 2009 @07:12PM (#28589323)

    I've gone back to student life, and have a Core2Duo laptop with Integrated Intel graphics, and an internet connection that speed tests to 86,468kbps @ 0ms ping. I'd be happy to pay a small sum for this.

  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @07:28PM (#28589393) Journal

    Moderately interesting article, though it would be more interesting IMHO to see something similar done for PC games and user interface more generically.

    What I don't understand about your post though...

    On my cable modem connection right now, my ping to a dns server generally are between 20-30ms. Let's say pressing a key and transmitting it to "the cloud" takes 25ms on average. Now it's input to the game, the game's 66ms processing time takes place, and the result is streamed back to me...30ms+

    We're now at a minimum of over 110ms latency assuming everything runs full speed and we don't get any "buffering" etc...

    Now if ping times are closer to 40-50ms ... I would expect that would be fairly unplayable...

    Am I wrong?

  • Re:this is DRM (Score:1, Insightful)

    by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:24PM (#28589691)

    It doesn't even benefit game companies because it basically hands all the control over to the console manufacturer that can pull your game at any moment forbidding your consumers from being able to play it.

  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:24PM (#28589693) Journal

    I don't disagree that games CAN be made playable...but afaik, with the games you list--unreal, quake, etc--they have at various times implemented client side prediction and other methods to minimize the effect of lag. I remember in the days of quake1 when anyone with a sub-100 ping was a lpb :p I don't know how many games will ever be designed to work specifically with this kind of 3rd-party hosting.

    Long story short, I don't ever see this technology in the near future working for that huge group of games that falls into the genre of "twitch" gaming.

  • Re:this is DRM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:29PM (#28589713) Journal

    The millions playing World of Warcrack beg to differ. The software is useless without the monthly access fee.

  • by MrMista_B ( 891430 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @08:44PM (#28589799)

    Most gamers don't play 'FPS' games.

  • by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @10:07PM (#28590201)

    This may be the future of gaming, eventually supplanting console and PC gaming.

    Reasons :
        1. This is a DRM system that would be nearly impossible to beat. As long as the game code is only given to these hosts, it would be vastly more difficult to pirate games. Not impossible - workers at the hosting company could leak the game to the internet, but it would be much more difficult.

        Strong DRM means the publishers would get paid for every game they sell, yet they could easily offer fully functional 'demos' of the game, or sell time for a game. It might be easier for a lesser known publisher to sell 10 hours of a game for $10 than the entire game for $50.

        2. It removes the need for the users to buy expensive hardware, whether that be a console or a high end gaming PC. You instead just lease time on the big iron. More advanced games with more advanced graphics would become available much sooner, since publishers wouldn't have to wait for the next generation of console to become common with consumers, or for PC owners to finally get upgrade their graphics cards. A publisher could offer games with state of the art, photo realistic graphics much sooner : it would just cost more per hour to play a game like that.

          3. It solves the nightmare of hardware incompatibility and hardware failures. Since your netbook/living room console/old PC would merely be decoding video, there would be far fewer ways things could go wrong.

    Problems : using flash is not a long term solution, flash has many problems : later generations of this service will need their own, optimized decoder code. ISPs will have to work with the companies offering hosted games, and configure their networks to deliver the ultra low latency, guaranteed bandwidth needed for a gaming session to actually work.

    I think this idea is going to take off. It'll be a few years before ISPs really get their act together to support this kind of service, but it will gradually happen, and I think it will completely supplant the game console.

  • Re:this is DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Carbon016 ( 1129067 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @01:15AM (#28591177)

    This service will likely cost more for a few months of subscription fees than a midrange video card does, and a netbook to play one of these streamed video games on costs about the same as a budget/midrange gaming PC. PC "gaming hardware" is hardly "insanely" expensive and for PC games this isn't terribly useful unless you have a portable machine and a quick internet connection, things that often don't go together.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.