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Two years on OnLive gets Intel backed gaming rival with Wal-Mart deal

When OnLive broke onto the gaming scene over two years ago, there must have been a rustle of interest from venture capital firms everywhere, looking f

By PETER WHITE

Published: 23 June, 2011

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When OnLive broke onto the gaming scene over two years ago, there must have been a rustle of interest from venture capital firms everywhere, looking for a way to get in on the action. But taking the latency out of cloud gaming required that new servers were invented, with different types of super-fast disk storage, and cloud apps that would respond instantly. So it has taken two years for the next in line to emerge, but such is the interest in live console class gaming on tablets and other portable devices, that it has come with a bang in the form of Gaikai, which this week landed a deal with Wal-Mart, according to US investment blog Venturebeat.

Gaikai was found on a new Walmart.com Game Center site, showing Electronic Arts’ Dead Space 2 video game which you can play simply by clicking on a link. Gaikai boasts that it’s conquered latency, perfected stereoscopic 3D and built the world's only open, high-performance interactive entertainment network, which of course should read the “second” such network.

The essence of cloud gaming is that only the image of what is happening in the game and the control commands are sent back and forth, using adaptive streaming, which most portable devices, even on slow broadband lines can support. The portable device doesn’t play the game, but instead it is played on a specialized cloud server and the resulting video returned instantly. This is why OnLive has calculated that servers have to be within 1,000 miles of the players and why last week it announced a new processing center in Luxembourg for Western Europe.

Gaikai claims to have finally achieved something similar, but seems to be focusing its marketing on its “try any game for free” approach and instant purchase rather than the myriad offerings that OnLive boasted about when it first revealed itself.

OnLive has always talked about gaming with thousands, if not millions of spectators, fan bases for players, and global competitions, community on an epic scale and Brag clips, but this will take time, because rolling it out has taken almost two years and nowhere has retail been offered a role, which is perhaps why Wal-Mart has turned to a fresh rival. Yes, OnLive mentioned trying games before you buy and getting your hands on any game instantly, but it wasn’t the only innovation it thought was important – and now of course, Gaikai has had the chance to watch the OnLive launch and doesn’t have to repeat its mistakes.

The man behind OnLive was one of the key designers of the Apple Mac and Quicktime - Steve Perlman, an entrepreneur who has stood the test of time, moving from his early Mac work to file 80 of his own patents, and has run a number of start-ups.

There are going to be some patent wars here, we can sense it. The entire idea was Perlman’s and the way in which servers have been adapted will have a number of new ideas in them too.

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