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Gaikai Ramping Up Open Beta

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-got-your-internet-in-my-game dept.

PC Games (Games) 44

Gaikai, the cloud gaming service currently under development, has begun its open beta phase, sending out first 1,000 and then 10,000 invites to players who requested them. Dave Perry said in a blog post that they will continue sending out invites in batches of 10,000 until they pin down any outstanding server issues. His post also includes video of a player streaming Mass Effect 2 to a Linux system. "We are working with lots of publishers / retailers / media sites / electronics makers / telecom companies etc. We have at least 60 deals in the pipe at some stage. (You can imagine how nuts that is to manage.) ... Everyone will be getting invited in batches, and if you are too far from our servers, don't worry — you've actually helped, as you've shown us where we need to install more data centers. (We're effectively reverse-engineering the internet, letting the traffic show us where the best data center position would give access to the most people.)"

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two articles in a row? (1)

underqualified (1318035) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266144)

/. is certainly drinking the cloud-flavored kool-aid

Re:two articles in a row? (1)

zr-rifle (677585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266226)

Since it's David Perry, I'd say it's Pepsi-flavoured Cool Spot

Re:two articles in a row? (3, Informative)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266368)

/. is certainly drinking the cloud-flavored kool-aid

They decided to take a short break from every little thing Google does, every little thing Apple does, sending balloons to the stratosphere and calling it "space", and never writing a negative book review yet having YRO stories that promote free speech. They decided to take a long break from well-deserved criticism of Microsoft.

It's premature to say whether clouds will become the next SCO in terms of article count but they're definitely trying.

Re:two articles in a row? (2, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267064)

The sad part is in all likelihood all these "in the cloud!" services for home users will most likely end up just like "On the Internet" ala the dotBomb bust. Why is that? Because I'm in one of the "test markets" for the new cap, and talking to friends in other states there are similar 'test markets" being set up by the other ISPs. Want to know what the new caps are gonna be? It is 36GB for residential, and 76GB for business!

That's right folks, prepare to get stuck on the short bus to the information superhighway, all in the name of ever higher profits! From what I've been told if it ain't Youtube or Netflix or MSFT windows, you're screwed. Youtube and Netflix because they are setting up local servers ala Akamai and Windows because they're gonna set up a WSUS that'll feed all Windows updates locally. Everything else? Hits the cap.

It would be nice if we actually had a free market when it comes to ISPs, but in a good 80% of the USA from what I've seen it is strictly a duopoly with DSL and cable, with both cherry picking like mad. Hell many like my mom that are just two blocks from the end of the line can't get anything, because without competition the duopolies just don't bother. I know in my own area the duopoly hasn't moved a single inch in any direction since the late 90s. So fire up those torrents boys, the party she shall soon be over. If what I heard from the guy helping to set up the local backend is true (and I have no reason to think it isn't) they will be rolling out the uber-shitty caps nationwide in either mid summer or early fall next year, depending on how long it takes to set up the backend.

So unless you are one of the lucky ones with FIOS the odds of getting to enjoy any of the "in the cloud!" services without buying your own T line will be pretty slim after that. All hail ever increasing profits! Oh and in case you are wondering NONE of the local cableco services will be affected by the cap, so I hope you enjoy their offerings! I bet all the "let the market decide!" types here at /. are gonna be REAL happy net neutrality died then, huh?

Re:two articles in a row? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34269172)

Really successful cloud companies won't be affected either: They can just pay the ISPs for an exemption too. This does mean that it'll be impossible for anyone new to compete on a fair footing with the established companies, but then that does seem to be the idea.

Open? (2, Insightful)

MrMarkie (1079197) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266184)

Doesn't an open beta suggest anyone can join, or does open beta mean that anyone can apply nowadays? Sounds more like a closed beta to me. Am I missing something?

Re:Open? (1)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266248)

Interesting question. I guess it's more about being "open to the public", i.e. you don't have to be on the payroll, or even a member of a special testing team. Possibly there's no NDA associated with it; that to me would be a strong indicator, but certainly not the only indicator.

Access to the DCS: A-10C Warthog [] 'open beta' is only open to those who pre-purchase the game. Does that qualify as an "open beta" or does it have to be open to everyone for free, since it excludes people who can't/won't buy things online or who can't download a few gigs?

If that is open, then is restricting it to people who pre-purchase it all that different to restricting it to those who win the lottery (i.e. are picked at random to receive an invite)? Arguably yes, but then; whether or not an individual happens to have been born into a life whereby they can afford to spend $60 on a video game is pretty much a lottery, too.

Re:Open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34266746)

I always thought betas available to the public were just public betas (and that, as GP suggest, these can be open or closed).

Re:Open? (1)

zarzu (1581721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266352)

The term open beta has been watered down over the past couple of years. It used to mean that anybody could join as long as they can run the application. But these days it really doesn't mean anything specific anymore. In the MMORPG scene where this development has been observable, the NDA is typically lifted a few weeks before the end of the closed beta, so defining it that way would make no sense either. Then when the "open beta" stars, it can have any arbitrary restriction: Only the first x applicants, only if you have a subscription at gaming site y, only if you preorder the game, only if you bought our previous game z, etc.

SaaS and DRM (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34266218)

The sooner these "Let's use the SaaS model to enforce our DRM Policy for our Games" idea dies, the better. They offer little benefit to the user, cross platform might be nice in theory but...
  • The nature of SaaS is you as the consumer have little control, it's not like Steam where it least you have a local copy that could be cracked/unlocked if the company goes under, but here you're completely screwed in this case because it's all held and operated elsewhere.
  • Want to know what's less ubiquitous than performance video rendering hardware for games? Low-Latency High-Bandwidth Internet connections. Latency is going to be a bitch with this in games which require quick response times and/or if you're too far away from the actual cloud and/or you're on a higher latency connection (Wireless, rural etc.). Bandwidth is also going to a bitch too seeing as it's inefficient and some, or most depending on your region, people have periodic bandwidth quotas.

Fact is, the only reason this idea is getting off the ground because of the benefits of a subscription model and the DRM mechanisms inherent in the system. The whole idea of "You don't need an expensive device to play our games!" is silly seeing as you need other decent stuff and sacrifice alot just to get that one or two benefits. It's a self serving model which does little for the consumer.
It's like replacing individual cars with big giant cranes all sprouting out from the centre of the city reaching out to get your capsule and lifting you to your destination.

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266530)

As far as I can tell, it brings a lot of cost savings to the developer+publisher (no need for anti-piracy, multiple platforms, distribution). That could mean better and/or cheaper games. Of course, that rather relies on the internet being able to grow with the demand; as you correctly outline above it is only partially there yet.

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266776)

When has one producer's ability to lock out competition and prevent sale of used copies ever led to anything other than a price hike to take advantage of the effective monopoly? Publishers are less afraid of pirates than they are of a completely free market.

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268056)

Publishers are less afraid of pirates than they are of a completely free market.

Then why do publishers release some games for both Xbox 360 and PS3, which have a strong tradition of resale and rental, and not PC?

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 3 years ago | (#34279264)


Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34275632)

And what happens when I want to play a game from 20 years ago on my phone that they do not support?

Oh yeah I am screwed. Now back to playing Monkey Island running on my droid.

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 3 years ago | (#34279258)

Indeed. It's not like it is a secret. Of course, the only reason you can play monkey island is due to a major effort by OS developers reimplementing the SCUMM system. What happens when I want to run my non-supported games on my N900? Right, you're screwed :P

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34282724)

Scumm should run fine on an N900, get the Debian arm build. I ran that build on a much slower Zipit Z2.

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 3 years ago | (#34289690)

Sure, and thank you. I was talking about some random non-SCUMM game I used to enjoy, say Civilization or Savage.

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292994)

Again if you port the engine they will work, or if you use qemu, unlike SaaS which since you lack even the binaries you will never run again once they stop supporting it.

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 3 years ago | (#34303712)

How do I port an engine I don't have access to? I really fail to see any real difference.

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311444)

That is where qemu comes in. I can run dosbox on my phone and run old dos games on that, that is not even the same architecture. Quite different from SaaS.

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 3 years ago | (#34315224)

I have never had any success with that. On the other hand, theoretically my SaaS game could still be working.

More importantly, it is upfront: I know what I'm getting with SaaS. And if you're lucky, you know what you're getting shrink wrapped. I prefer not to pay for other people's piracy, and to have it just work, and thus would prefer a streaming service, all other things being equal. In the few cases where I have wanted to go back and play an old game, it has never worked for me anyway.

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34320006)

I would prefer not to rent software.

What old games have you had problems with? Anything dos age works fine in dosbox, anything from then to NT4 works in wine.

Re:SaaS and DRM (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323266)

I especially remember Severance: Blade of darkness. I have tried it in windows and wine to no avail.

*sigh* (3, Informative)

wildstoo (835450) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266290)

First of all, since links are conspicuously missing from TFS: []

Secondly, the framerate in that ME2 video is shockingly bad, and gives no indication of how laggy the controls are (I'm guessing: very).

I'm still not convinced this can be more than vaporware until the latency can be brought to 10ms or less, which isn't going to happen with any regularity on the Internet we have.

Re:*sigh* (2, Interesting)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266326)

Do you have under 10ms when gaming directly from your rig? I don't. Applying my Citrix experience to this idea, though, lets me agree with your expectations about the control issue.

We'll see whether this'll be the next big thing after 3D gaming soon enough, I'd assume. I'll reserve judgement until then.

Re:*sigh* (1)

wildstoo (835450) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266468)

Monitor response time: 5ms.

Lag introduced by USB control:

So... yeah?

Re:*sigh* (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266512)

Er... you're missing the point. It's not the lag between you and your PC - that's ALWAYS present on whatever system. It's the lag between your PC wanting to processing the input and sending the relevant graphical output. On a conventional PC this is less than the time required for one frame (or else you wouldn't get the framerate that you do). On this system, it's a remote PC over a latent link, that's a lot more. You're still using monitors, USB peripherals and everything else and, yes, you may have slightest reduced *multiplayer* latency because you're effectively logging in remotely to a PC playing a LAN game, but the latency from control input being recieved to graphics card sending a signal to the monitor reflecting the output is VASTLY increased, by orders of magnitude in some cases.

The sub-50ms ping you get from a counterstrike server is only how long it takes the PC to talk to the other computer and get a reply (for a tiny packet). The latency problem here is inserted between the computer successfully receiving your input and then producing a graphic to represent that, where normally that is only limited by the bus and CPU speed of your computer, and where now you have to include a transport across an international network, another computer to perform those same calculations / bus transfers, and then another network transport.

You're basically VNC'ing into a bunch of computers playing a LAN game. Try it. Just because the remote computer gets "20ms ping" to the main server doesn't mean it's more responsive than just playing the game locally.

Re:*sigh* (1)

wildstoo (835450) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266536)

I'm not missing the point. That's exactly what I was saying.

The question Kokuyo asked was "Do you have under 10ms when gaming directly from your rig?"

Kokuyo was saying 10ms was an unrealistic expectation of latency on a gaming rig. I was pointing out that it wasn't.

I fully agree that with the overheads incurred by encoding the video and audio, sending it to the player's system and syncing it with the control packets it will be pretty unplayable.

Network latency in online gaming didn't even come into it. The example used was Mass Effect 2, a single player game.

Re:*sigh* (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266620)

Then it was a misunderstanding on my part. I was talking about online games you directly launch on your rig but which connect to the net.

Of course, I might have completely misunderstood how this gaikai thing works in the first place.

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34268630)

Admittedly this is in the UK, but I can connected to dedicated servers on Jolt and get under 15ms pings. Bearing in mind that this is connecting to a game server on a different ISP, there's no reason that 10ms shouldn't be possible for one hosted on the same ISP.

That said, I can't see one of these gaikai like services (it's not the first I've seen mentioned) keeping up with the throughput that these games will require. We're talking about a service that's going to be generating as much traffic as streaming video service like Youtube, but with an operational requirement to keep latency as low as possible *and* no ability to move a game to a different rack mid-session without breaking things.

I just can't see how something like this is going to be able to scale.

Re:*sigh* (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266796)

It was particularly telling that they demonstrated this with a single player game. Considering practically every game these days has multiplayer bolted on whether it needs it or not, are people generally going to be happy not only going back to the days of single player only, but then having even that experience watered down with the kind of lag you'd find in multiplayer. I agree with you - if they can make this work with current generation internet infrastructure (or hell, anything within the next decade) without it being a horrible experience, I'll be the first to eat humble pie. I just can't see it happening.

Re:*sigh* (1)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266714)

"the framerate in that ME2 video is shockingly bad"

Perhaps not. Look again at the first few seconds of the video and you'll notice that the mouse pointer is jumpy, which suggests that it's the framerate of the video that is low. May be the recording, may be the YouTube playback. Of course this doesn't prove that the game streaming _isn't_ poor framerate, but certainly doesn't show that it is.

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34266994)

Hard to call it vaporware when there's another company (OnLive) doing the exact same thing and has already released it to the public. It may not be successful until latency can be reduced (although your 10ms statement is a bit hyperbolic), but I have little doubt this will make it to market.

Google - get your wallet out... (3, Interesting)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266358)

Man ... why dont google buy this company ? It strikes me combining this with the GoogleTV platform would be a pretty nice marriage....


Trial in second life too (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266556)

Linden Labs it using Gaikai to render their Second Life world using a web viewer, and is running tests. I read one appraisal that said the bandwidth required is incredible, with one hour of in-world running around consuming about 1gb of traffic. Considering some providers may raise a red flag if users go over 1-3 gb per day, not to mention a monthly total, users, especially international, could find this a show stopper.

Re:Trial in second life too (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266618)

with one hour of in-world running around consuming about 1gb of traffic.

One gigabit doesn't sound like that much.

The real show-stopper is the name. Any name beginning with letters that look like "gay" is going to be endlessly mocked by young gamers, who are the ones buying the games in quantity.

Re:Trial in second life too (1)

Vernes (720223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266842)

Has this bandwidth use been confirmed? Also, I gather this might mean it's alike a video stream? Aren't there render engines build for browsers? (flash,js,html5) Would the bandwidth use be less if they would replace the videostream with opengl/directX data? So the client would still be run remotely, the video wouldn't be a video stream, but instead 3D data, compatible for direct consumption by your 3D card.

Consider AGP (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268116)

Would the bandwidth use be less if they would replace the videostream with opengl/directX data?

If that were true, video cards would still be PCI. But the progression through AGP to faster AGP to PCI Express to multi-lane PCI Express showed that even the 1 Gbps of PCI is not enough for meshes and textures. Compare this to the video stream of a DVD (capped at roughly 9 Mbps) or Blu-ray Disc (capped at roughly 50 Mbps).

Any homebrew version? (1)

snookums (48954) | more than 3 years ago | (#34266622)

Does anyone know of an open source stack that can achieve the server side of this functionality? In other words, Grab an OpenGL window, encode as video in real time, and stream it with low latency while using a protocol like VNC or NX to feed user controls back to the server.

Seems like it would be a fun thing to experiment with, maybe play games from a tablet in the living room while the more capable PC chugs away in another room. Mobile devices have much better video decoding than 3d capability.

I tested this a couple of days ago (2, Informative)

ninjacheeseburger (1330559) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267086)

It does work, but there defiantly needs to be improvement.
I was using my uni's 55mb connection, and the resolution wasn't very good, even when I selected full screen there were massive black bars round the game. The anti-aliasing needs to be turned up as well as even the cut scenes looked horrible.

Control wise the game was playable but I had major difficulty aiming with a sniper rifle.

I believe the idea is to offer instant demos to people on game sites instead of just adverts and trailers, instead of onlive's approach of buying and playing games. If this is the case I could see this being a useful service even if the quality isn't great, I'd never played Mass Effect before and this allowed me to get a taste of the game without downloading GBs of content just for a quick demo.

Re:I tested this a couple of days ago (1)

tarlane (1167521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34271136)

I got into the trial of this as well and gave it a shot.

When I first attempted to connect I received a notice that my latency was too high and I may be out of range of their servers, which as the article mentions is obviously something they are trying to correct. A day later I attempted to connect again and everything went smoothly, so it must be fairly picky about only letting you get in if the quality is going to be up to par.

The resolution was a bit grainy compared to when I play the same title on my fairly hefty gaming rig, particularly at larger screen sizes, but I didn't experience any of the black boxes the poster above mentions, nor did I have any trouble with frame rate or render speeds.

I was expecting bad things from the controls but they were quite responsive and I didn't notice any real stickiness at all, which could have been a real killer in a (relatively) action heavy title. The beta gives you an hour and a half to play and includes saves which are taken past the initial cutscenes/dialogue so if you already know the game and just want to give the service a try you can have plenty of time to do it.

I didn't see any sort of NDA in effect and after the beta closes they ask for some quick comments, how you liked the game, the service, and if you would like beta keys you can share.

All in all I was pretty pleased with my trial and I think that it looks like Gaikai will be a great service for those who want to game on older computers or laptops and if they can bring in some good titles, they will be a strong competitor for OnLive since that seems to be one thing they lack a good variety of.

One of the big complaints about PC gaming is the high cost of entry, both financially and in keeping up with what is needed to run modern games. If these services are able to deliver, there may be a renewed market.

Correct me if I'm wrong... (1)

cuckundu (1934964) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267516)

...but wouldn't this require a hell of a good connection to run smoothly at all? That seems like a lot of data being transferred back and forth, real-time.
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