Understanding The Big Three Cloud Gaming Providers
Since the news of Sony acquiring Gaikai broke
, the Interwebs have been burning about cloud gaming technology and the Big Three: OnLive, Gaikai and Kalydo. While many are talking about them, few are discussing what sets them apart.
Here's the lowdown on what makes each service unique:
Onlive is the only cloud gaming service operating as a community platform, allowing both full video games purchases and time limited demos. For a small monthly fee, you can also gain access to a large selection of titles for unlimited use. On top of that, it features a robust set of community tools, including live viewing in other player’s games (including chat), full messaging and recording services and connected multiplayer as well. It's an organic blend of 'Steam' and 'Netflix', with a smooth interface to boot.
Onlive as a service is what most consumers think of when they describe cloud gaming.
Pre-Sony Acquisition, Gaikai served primarily as an advertising platform, not only their technology but offering playable demo's with links to purchase the full product. What they will be post Sony is anyone's guess, but here’s what is likely: Gaikai relies on h.264 encoding so any device (IE PS4) that offers that can theoretically have any title, PC or otherwise, streamed to it. Think World of Warcraft on the PS4 and you are getting close. If Sony offers a 'cloud purchase' option to their titles, no more patches or updates downtime. Not to mention the biggest bonus of all: Instant Access.
Onlive and Gaikai both use fundamentally different encoding sequences, transmission priorities and data centre strategies in their video game streaming. For a technical comparison, go here
iQU covered Kalydo
and I was impressed by what they offer. You see, Eximion through Kalydo is focused ONLY on cloud streaming MMO Games. The biggest problems facing MMO players are system requirements and time. With Kalydo, and a title like Runes of Magic, a simple Facebook login and within one minute the consumer is at the main menu fiddling with character creation. Cloud streaming not only lifts the burden of needing significant hardware; it cuts out all the usual MMORPG nonsense of patching and updates as well.
While consumer friendly, its biggest benefit is the marketing win for an MMO provider to provide the means for an interested consumer to be in-game within minutes, not hours.
Doki Tops, CEO of Kalydo contacted iQU with the following comments, specifically addressing the cost and coverage compent differences between the three providers:
Onlive& Gaikai work on lower system specs increasing reach on the one hand but for a good user experience they require >5Mbit internet connection which for example 70% of Germans do not have and it needs to be a stable connection, decreasing reach. Kalydo keeps system specs as is but works from 0,5Mbit onwards which is almost all connections and stability is not a must.
A huge difference is in cost, we estimate that Onlive and Gaikai are easily a 100 times more expensive for distribution costs than the Kalydo solution depending on game title. In short:
Kalydo = Low distribution costs, No latency issue, no visual quality loss or framerate loss, however system specs remain as they were
Onlive GaiKai = Huge distribution costs, low system specs, quality loss and framerate usually lower and latency sensitive.
Finally, Gaikai/Onlive need less implementation time to hook up the game to their platform than Kalydo implementation time is independent of game architecture. Kalydo requires a bit more time and does have some small dependencies with game-engine architecture.
Thank you Doki for the update!
Tags: cloud gaming
, Cross Platform
, game advertising
, game industry
, game industry news
, online game blog
, online games
, Social Gaming
Douglas Stewart is a staff writer at iQU. When he is not writing, he devours books, plays an excessive amount of games, and is working on his upcoming fiction novel that (naturally) involves intersections between technology, gaming and society. Follow Douglas @TheGearCog