Gaikai’s Cloud Gaming Service Condenses

By Jim Rossignol on February 28th, 2011 at 3:13 pm.


So Dave Perry’s cloud-based online gaming service, Gaikai, has launched. Well, sort of. Peculiarly, the site is currently pitched as “online advertising network”, and seems to neglect selling the idea to us gamers, opting instead for enticing their commercial clients. There are ways to get in there and try the service, however, as explained on Perry’s blog (scroll down a bit). Test games include Mass Effect 2 and Dead Space 2. So get in there, RPS readerhorde, and see what you make of it.

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53 Comments »

  1. Urael says:

    I have to say that, despite my personal feelings about Dave “I used to be great but then I sold out” Perry, I am a little intrigued by the technology at work here. Can they really squirt a portion of a game into a browser that wasn’t designed to be played in a browser and maintain a good framerate? How good does your Broadband connection have to be? How much data will need to be transferred (I’m assuming heaps)?

    To clarify his comments about Advertising, I’m fairly sure that he means that by giving gamers the chance to play the game – try before you buy – in browser, then this works as the best form of advertising for the game (while still not ‘giving away free copies of the game’ in the form of the humble demo). He’s quite right when he says most gamers prefer to try the game before laying down the moolahbucks.

    Of course, having the Gaikai window surrounded by the usual web-advertising we’ve come to know and love – Facebook being an excellent example – can’t hurt either, right?

    Secretly I’ve always wanted to play a SIMS game but have always been too ashamed of myself to buy one. Could be interesting to see if it would work through this thing. Of course, assuming I liked it I’d then have to face the horror directly but still…

    • nuh uh no way says:

      If you really want to do something, just do it.

    • Urael says:

      Was…was that how you conquered your Sims shame in the end?

    • arccos says:

      What’s there to be ashamed of? Sims has a bunch of interesting systems that interplay well, and is still almost unique in using them. Sadly, it seems like no game designers are even trying to learn what people liked about Sims and adapt it to their games. All because there’s some sort of machismo that says to do so would be to sell out.

    • sokolov22 says:

      @arccos

      I’d say that many social games appearing on Facebook utilize similar systems as the Sims. It may not be an overt thing or maybe not even a conscious thing, but I see its influences in my games and other’s.

  2. Theory says:

    Could someone explain what this thing actually does?

    • DrGonzo says:

      Pretty much like OnLive but just for demos I think.

      I just tried the service, it’s very unimpressive. I had a go at Onlive a while back and was really impressed by it, especially considering how playable it was even though I’m in the UK. That made me think a service of it’s kind based in Europe would be great. However, this runs laggier than Onlive does, even though it’s so much closer (unless I’m wrong and it is in the US). It also has pretty poor graphics overall, runs at a bad framerate and is only in a teeny tiny window, even when full screened.

      I will just assume this is a very long way from release though.

      Also, I thought he made out like this was a new way to enable gamers to try games. Onlive allows you to play the actual game for 30 minutes for free, that is a new and interesting idea. This is just streaming a really bad quality version of a demo I could just go and download. It’s very strange.

  3. EthZee says:

    Hm. Didn’t work for me. Although that may just be my wireless connection (10MB my arse) and a five-year-old laptop. It got to the “press any key to start” screen on dead space 2, then it ‘recalibrated’ and ended.

    Oh well!

  4. Jannakar says:

    I do not think we are the target audience.

    I’m thinking more like hotels – where people do not have much expectation and anybody who would care would be bringing their own laptop.

  5. Poo Bear says:

    My so called 8Mbps connection is actually running at 2Mbps and apparently that is not good enough, so no gaikai for me :(

  6. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    A bit of advice to the RPS crew, be sure to give everything Dave Perry does good reviews or he’ll bear grudges for years. PCZone dared to not like something he did and he was still bitter a decade later.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Funny thing is the vast majority of Mr Perry’s games aren’t very good. He did make a few classics, Aladdin on the Megadrive, Messiah on PC and apparently the whole world loves Earthworm Jim – its funny, but its a completely shit game.

    • Diziet Sma says:

      I’ve always thought the world loves Earthworm Jim the character and world (for more of the designers work see his new comic at ratfist.com). The game itself, as a platformer, is mediocre.

    • CMaster says:

      No MDK love?
      Though MDK2 was much better.

    • Urael says:

      MDK is still amazing. Two was better? Honestly? Needs checking out, in that case…

      You can add Sacrifice to the list. Great game.

    • karry says:

      Messiah is a classic now ? MDK2 is better than original in almost every respect imaginable, and Sacrifice was just plain horrible, especially its art desing.

      Anyway, lets just agree that he’s a pretty good idea guy, but not that great at actually figuring out all the little details of game design.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Karry: I think you may be at the wrong website.

      KG

    • jonfitt says:

      Sacrifice was way ahead of its time. I don’t know how well it holds up, but I remember being surprised that no one took the ideas.

      Side note on Messiah. I remember them talking about how their tech would add more polygons based on processing speed. So your Pentium 133s looked better than your 486 DX66s. I think Sacrifice did this too. What happens if I get it running on a Core i7? Does it render photo realistic graphics?

    • Urael says:

      @Jonfitt – I’ve had that at the back of my mind for years. He made a very big deal of it, didn’t he? I too have wondered what miracles would happen on a modern PC…

    • jonfitt says:

      /Tries Sacrifice/

      …My god, it’s full of stars….

    • Dominic White says:

      Sactifice is/was an absolute classic. Completely overlooked by most, but it’s one of the most fun games you can grab off GOG.com these days.

      Messiah was always a bit on the crap side, though. It gave you all these tools and told you to find your own solutions by acting like the characters you’re possessing, but it never quite worked. Like if you took over a guard, then came under fire from a gangster. Now, what would the guard do? If he was controlled by the AI, he’d open fire.

      If you try to do this while you’re in control, every other guard in the area will immediately stop defending themselves in order to kill you. And that just about sums up the game – there’s very little you could do even within the bounds of the character you were possessing at the time

      Also, if I remember right, it had the worst pacing I’ve ever seen in a game. The first ‘level’ is actually half the game. Then there’s like a dozen much, MUCH smaller ones before the end, which tapers off into a really awkward pseudo-bossfight.

      But yeah, Messiah wasn’t good enough at launch to have a hope of ageing gracefully. Sacrifice, however, can now be run at 60fps solid on modern machines with everything turned on, like the bumpmapping that was patched in post-launch, and it still looks good due to amazing art design.

    • bill says:

      I had the same thoughts about Messiah.. unfortunately it doesn’t really work out so well.

      I got it off gog and it was an ok game, but nothing amazing. Didn’t live up to it’s idea. Crashed a hell of a lot too. But anyway, the graphics look pretty old.

      It was a great idea, but they crippled it by not allowing for the fact that pcs would get much faster. It’s hard to trigger the highest level models, and even then they’re nothing special by today’s standards. And of course the textures and world are very low res today. Plus graphical bugs abound due to newer dx and hardware.

      I think that the best you’ll get it to look today is the best it looked on launch. If that.

  7. Midnightoil says:

    Worked great for me atleast, but I got a fast internet nad live in Finland.
    Dead Space:
    Seemingly no lag except for the few twitches here and there.
    Spore: No problems at all, fine, just dont like Spore as a game
    Didnt bother to try sims or second life but Spore and Dead space 2 would crash if I went to fullscreen so that kinda ruined the mood. But I can see this coming as a way to test games quickly without downloading a demo

    • Diziet Sma says:

      Why on earth is second life there? That’s already a streaming game system. That’d be like delivering a video game as a matroska doll!

    • rei says:

      Worked nicely for me as well, although I only tried DS2. No hiccups or pixelation and the controls were responsive. Very surprised, actually, since up until now I’ve been highly skeptical of this stuff. I can’t imagine doing this for any proper gaming, but it’s perfectly fine for demos.

  8. Teronfel says:

    In what countries is this service available?

  9. Morberis says:

    With the second best package that Shaw offers I don`t have the bandwidth necessary to play any of the games it says. I`m guessing you need some good upstream but that`s just not accessible in many parts of Canada, and even if not for a reasonable price.

  10. ComradePenguin says:

    Playing it through my uni’s network and the video still corrupted. The connection dropped out before I could get a past the menu. Wonder if their servers are just taking a bigger hit then they were expecting.

  11. James G says:

    Worked okayish here (UK, 8Mbs connection via wireless), although I only gave a brief try of the slow moving start of ME2. Video compression artefacts were annoying in places. Didn’t feel the lag, but things were slow moving at that point, I also got the impression that things like the mouse pointer were rendered locally.

    Still, better than OnLive, which refuses to let me connect at all.

  12. Persus-9 says:

    Well the graphics are pretty damn good, nothing compared to running the game locally so I wouldn’t consider it as an alternative to buying a game for download but it’s fine for a demo. The input lag on the other hand was hellish and made Dead Space 2 unplayable. It spiked up to what felt like a couple of seconds at one point so I lost all intuitive connection between my mouse and what was happening on the screen. I have an awesome internet connection but I am in Sweden so I might be a very long way from the nearest data-centre. I could be wrong because the input lag was throwing confusing things but I felt at times like the control scheme was using console style uneven sensitivity so any movement over what I was hoping to be about 90 degrees seemed to cause me to do a perfect 180. It would make sense to have an autoaim on there to help with the input lag but the apparent uneven sensitivity was horrible with a mouse. I’ve always liked the idea of Gaikai and unlike OnLive it strikes me as a good business model but lag was really killing it for me today.

    • Urael says:

      “The input lag on the other hand was hellish and made Dead Space 2 unplayable”

      …yes, but what about through Gaikai? Ho ho!

  13. Frye2k11 says:

    edit : meant to reply the ReV_VAdAUL bit

    Never heard of the guy but I have all those games. Wouldn’t mind having a resume like that. Very atmospheric all of them. Some of the graphics tricks used in MDK didn’t really work for me. Not drawing the floor but using the skybox to fake reflections and such. It meant you could see very distant objects for the first time at a decent framerate.

  14. DJ Phantoon says:

    I’m not impressed with the future.

  15. SpinalJack says:

    eh, it’s alright if you can’t run the game on your laptop and you have a decent enough internet connection.

  16. Frye2k11 says:

    Instantly playing WoW, Spore and Eve (old video) :

  17. Dyst says:

    Running on a £150 netbook, not impressed. Compared to OnLive this is pretty bad. OnLive has better graphics and a better frame rate, and Gaikai was far laggier despite having servers closer to the UK (according to this Dave character at least.)

  18. Scandalon says:

    Dead Space 2 is working pretty good for me on a basic Charter Cable business line. On a Mac. The initial run was a bid dodgy compared to OnLive (initializing Java when I’ve got a Win7 VM and X11 and two different browsers and Entourage and… running in the background.) Looks better than OnLive to me too. (In the US on the west coast, but not near a big city.)

    • Scandalon says:

      I’ll add that Gaikai’s focus is a bit worrying (not to mention the name), compared to OnLive, but long-term some combination is probably the most viable. I wonder how long until they merge?

  19. Reddin says:

    I played the Mass Effect 2 demo through this a couple of months ago and was impressed with how well it worked, apart from a mouse bug. Video quality was alright but not great, and while there was some input-lag it wasn’t game-breaking. All in all it worked better than I expected.
    It was of course pointless for me since I had Mass Effect 2 installed anyway, but it was a nice proof of concept.
    I can see it working as a way to play demos instead of downloading/installing a couple of gigs for a half hour demo.
    Would never buy anything on it as long as I have a decent PC though.
    And as I write this I get an email from them offering me to try the Dead Space 2 demo, which I will take them up on.

  20. Mark says:

    Couldn’t run the Mass Effect 2 demo, but I have great confidence in what Perry is doing here. Also, the survey they ask you to fill in is one of the few that asks exactly the right questions with regards to what drives PC users up the wall. If you want to send a message to publishers, I would advise anyone to fill it out, regardless of whether they think Gaikai will run on their system or not.

  21. disperse says:

    Well, as a OnLive convert I hope Gaikai doesn’t get in the way of EA putting their games on OnLive.

    Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age would both be pretty much insta-buys were they to come to OnLive.

  22. malkav11 says:

    I’m pretty sure Gaikai’s business model is not to try to sell you games that are held hostage on their servers and vulnerable to the slightest twitch of the internets between you and them (not to mention completely unmoddable), which OnLive is trying to do. (OnLive’s approach is seriously the most loathsome business model I’ve seen in gaming so far.) Gaikai is about taking ads on websites, and instead of giving you a banner ad or an annoying autoplaying video ad, give you a playable window of that game to try out for yourself. That sounds like way more user-friendly, effective use of the tech to me, and for a bonus should produce ads that aren’t completely useless irritants. (Though, depending on implementation, they may yet be irritating.)

    • Scandalon says:

      Interesting take. Like I said above, I think some hybrid mix will probably end up being the final choice. I like the “demo a game in 30 seconds” idea, but it’s precisely the fact that you *can’t* pay to stream the whole thing that worries me, since a streaming/gaikai demo doesn’t tell me anything about how the actual game will run on my PC. So I get the immediacy of OnLive (without having to install a client) to get a taste of the game itself, but then I can…buy it for my 360? Buy it for “digital download” and then find out it doesn’t work, and there’s no downloadable demo…

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, but current ads don’t tell you anything about how the game will run on your system either.

  23. rocketman71 says:

    Dave Perry?. No, thanks. Only Molyneux sells more vapor than him.

  24. RegisteredUser says:

    I’d sooner simply view a gameplay video on youtube to be perfectly honest. Or Yahtzee’s review.

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