Sony to acquire cloud gaming company Gaikai

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Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) has announced that it entered into an agreement to acquire Gaikai, the world’s leading interactive cloud-based gaming company, for approximately US$380 million.

Sony plans to establish a new cloud service through the acquisition.

“By combining Gaikai’s resources including its technological strength and engineering talent with SCE’s extensive game platform knowledge and experience, SCE will provide users with unparalleled cloud entertainment experiences,” Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc, said.

“SCE will deliver a world-class cloud-streaming service that allows users to instantly enjoy a broad array of content ranging from immersive core games with rich graphics to casual content anytime, anywhere on a variety of internet-connected devices.”

Wait? What’s a Gaikai and how does this affect me?

Take note of Andrew House’s last line again as I present Exhibit A:

At the Google I/O Keynote, Gaikai demonstrated the ability to play Bulletstorm, a game released just last year, in Google Chrome. That’s right, a web browser.

Gaikai is a cloud platform. What’s essentially happening is all the processing for the game is done at Gaikai’s data centres, meaning that you could theoretically play Max Payne 3 on an old computer. Think of your device as the controller, with the console all way back at Gaikai’s end.

The downside is that for your game experience to be fluid, your Internet connection has to be rather fast.  Gaikai recommends at least 5+ megabits of downstream bandwidth.  Obviously, not everyone has access to a blazing Internet connection, but a few years down the road should change things. Look how far we have come since the days of 56.6k modem gaming.

Overall, I am guessing Sony is planning long term. If everything pans out, the potential for this service is endless. We could play next gen graphic intensive video games on our phones as we head to work and have a backlog of classic games at the tip of your fingers. All this, without having to invest money in another expensive piece of hardware that would only last us a maximum of  5 to 7 years.

If that thought doesn’t excite us as gamers, I am not sure what will.

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