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E3 2012: Cloud and cross platform gaming

by: John -
More On: E3 2012
Wednesday morning, I sat in a press conference on cloud and cross-platform gaming. When surveying 1500 US gamers about cloud gaming brought up about half a sample knowing what the idea was which a part is rendering the game on the server and having it sent to the terminal device. Half though, don't know specifically what it was.

With cross platform gaming, you can play on a device and pick it up on another. Games are downloaded locally on the machine with the cloud having a potential to be cross platform. PS3 and VITA for example with Wipeout, multiplayer aspect is another aspect of cross platform gaming where one can play one another on different devices. Dust 514 on the PS3 and with a link to EVE Online is on the border of cross platform as the information is linked, but not the game play though there are influences with both sides.

Cloud gaming was presented with a way grow the customer pie by providing AAA games to those that can't afford the cost of the hardware. It can help level the playing field for developers with potential for distribution as one benefit for smaller companies and it's more secure because you can't pirate the game as well as patch them faster.

A survey in 2007 showed 40% of all revenue was derived from the digital channel and they predicted that by 2016 that it will be 50%.

The front runner right now is OnLive with 2 to 2.5 million gamers having tried it on the big screen from a Q1 survey. They have great backing with 250+ games from  60+ developers. Besides the cloud aspect, they already have cross platform play with various devices from iOS to Android to PC. Partnered with AT&T, VIZIO, HTC, LG, and Google, they are getting into various devices from those partners.

Steve Perlman, OnLive CEO was on hand to talk about their service. They've had 100% uptime (knock on wood), deliver reliable experience over WiFi and cellular. Starting soon, LG will include the OnLive app with use of up to 4 OnLive wireless controllers and Bluetooth headsets. 3D games will be coming too so those with a 3D TV set will soon be able to game with your glasses on.

Spectating is there, but you can now do in game spectating. You can have one main window in the left and three smaller ones on the right. OnLive will also let you do team or co-op spectating as well as filtered chatting. No changes needed for the game as this is all done by OnLive.

One click in browser playing with HTML or Flash with Firefox is available now and that can open up some more possibilities. A simple URL on the website will launch the game in the browser, which can really be convenient and get potential buyers playing a demo of your game easier and quicker. It's available for the PC and Mac now, but TV and mobile devices will soon have this ability. The convenience of going to the website of a developer and clicking on a link to play immediately is pretty intriguing.

OnLive lets you game no matter what platform you are on and have an enjoyable experience. With movies, you can watch on whatever you want. Cloud game is helping do the same thing by letting you play on whatever you want with OnLive. Cloud saves will let you play on one platform, save it, and continue on another.

With used games and piracy on retail disks and mobile, publishers see less and less revenue. Publisher margins are around 27% in the standard model. Mobile downloads have around 60-80% of piracy and publishers get around 9% of the revenue. With OnLive, you get 0 used games and 0 piracy and publishers get 50% or more of the share in this model.

Up next was Heathcliff Hatcher, Director of Global Product Marketing for Razer. They've grown up lot since producing mice with 24+ product lines launched to date and 9 offices worldwide.

Synapse 2.0 is a technology that lets you store peripheral settings in the cloud. All key bindings, preferences, settings, stored in the cloud and accessed anywhere. They currently have 650,000 profiles in less than a 6 month period. Razer has a single unified driver for all products to make things simple. As you move from product to product, everything is there for you ready to go. With all the time spent on the macros or setting, this saves time when moving to new products. Development was started 3 years ago on Synapse 2.0.

Synapse current is in the actual mouse, an integrated chipset in the mouse. Today though, the DeathAdder will be getting Synapse 2.0 even though it doesn't have an integrated chip. Legacy support will be coming in Q3 and Q4 so a bulk of their catalog will have this feature. It's great to see that old products will get this support and you won't have to buy something new if you want to take advantage of Synapse 2.0 for cloud storage for your settings.

All you have to do is register a Razer ID. The UI changes depending on device and it will auto import old profiles into Synapse. You select your products with the icons of other Razer devices that are on the bottom so you can switch between them easily. Auto updates can be used expand the software easily with new features.

Best of all, it's free to download and free to use. Synapse 2.0 with support for legacy devices is a nice step for Razer.

In conclusion, only 36%, said no on if they want cross platform gaming. But, only 4% was willing to pay more though for the added benefits. For devs and publishers, they can't count on an increase to revenue here and it has to be built into the game. The problem is only a certain amount of money can be dedicated to this then though from the developers. Still, it seems we're moving into a new era of cloud and cross platform gaming with OnLive and Razer as two examples leading the charge.