Microsoft appear nonplussed over Sony’s recent purchase of steaming service Gaikai.
There has been speculation that in response the Windows giant would buy OnLive, but as that company is valued at closer to $US1 billion, it seems more likely that Microsoft will concentrate on its own cloud technology
"The cloud has been a key component of our strategy and a big area of investment with Xbox for many years. Through Xbox Live we're serving up gaming and entertainment in the cloud to more than 40 million people," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
"We're committed to delivering extraordinary entertainment experiences across devices in a uniquely connected way through Xbox, Windows Phone, Windows 8 and other popular devices, and we're looking forward to continuing to innovate in this space in the future."
Columnist Rob Fahey downplayed the importance of the cloud, commenting that its short- to medium-term effects on the industry would be minimal.
“The world isn't ready for cloud gaming… PlayStation 4 is not about to become a $99 thin client for cloud gaming; it will be a powerful client-side gaming console with lots of storage for digitally distributed titles and a Blu-ray drive for boxed titles,” he said.
Fahey did see an immediate use for the service, however – the speedy delivery of older titles as well as today’s ever-larger game demos.
“It's a fantastic option for selling access to a back catalogue, for example, and should provide Sony with many new opportunities to monetise the impressive back catalogue of PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS3 titles.
“As game demos have grown in size, now often clocking in at multiple gigabytes, they've become less and less appealing to consumers. Streaming offers a chance to let players try a game instantly without the inconvenience of a large download,” he said.
“Given Gaikai's low client-side requirements, I feel that Sony would be missing a trick if this functionality didn't appear on PS3, let alone PS4.”
Wedbush Securities’ analyst Michael Pachter felt the acquisition was more of a strategic move to keep others away from the service.
“I think that this is more related to Sony’s integrated strategy, and ties into their hopes of selling more televisions. I know that Gaikai was purchased by Sony Computer Entertainment, but essentially, they provide a solution to play games without a console, so they make a lot of sense if built into Sony TVs.”
“This could be both a strategic move to sell more TVs and a pre-emptive move to keep others from using the service. It’s actually a very interesting deal, and the price is reasonable if it gives Sony an advantage over other television manufacturers while keeping the technology off the market so that others can’t eliminate the need for a console.”
“This won't impact next gen at all,” he said.
EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich hailed the purchase as “genius” on Sony’s part.
“Although they've been doing quite well in video games, as a company Sony has been struggling. What the acquisition of Gaikai really does is it helps to future proof Sony, because no matter where the industry transitions… they will be able to utilise Gaikai and its technologies to deliver entertainment straight to the consumer.”
Interestingly, the latest version of Sony competitor Samsung's TV firmware lets users see an application tile for Gaikai and apply for a closed beta, which Gaikai first mentioned back in June when it announced its Samsung partnership.
The beta only works on Samsung's 2012 LED 7000 line or newer TVs.