Cloud Gaming Service Gaikai Set to Go Live Mid-December

The cloud-based game streaming service Gaikai is feature-complete and on course to launch in mid-December, CEO and co-founder Dave Perry has told VG247.

"The minute that announcement comes out of who we're gonna partner with, we'll start sending out invites immediately. And we're gonna do that for 60 days. So we are 60 days from the start of those invites to launch," Perry said. "So that's means, at some point in December--probably mid-December--we will be live. There will be no 'you're in a beta.' It'll just be 'go ahead and play.'"

Gaikai runs games on remote servers and then streams video feedback to the player through a browser plugin, meaning that the most-demanding of games can be played on low-end computers. As the service is, by its nature, at the mercy of latency, Gaikai claims to have servers spread out across 300 data centers and at 900 local ISPs.

Speaking at a GDC Online panel this week on emerging online business models, Perry said of retail stores that "long-term, they're gonna be toast," though for now, "Everybody really needs to start to embrace that retailers can help them find customers."

Perry commented that digital distribution still has its own issues, noting that "You spend $20 million to make a game and all you get is a little static image [on a digital storefront] to sell the game." It just so happens that Gaikai could help here.

Unlike its similar, rival service OnLive, which is geared towards selling full streaming versions of games, Gaikai has more of a focus on being a demo service for publishers. The plan is that players will be able to try a streaming demo then pay for a download of the full game, order a physical copy or continue playing the streaming version.

Gaikai's model will allow it to run subscription-free. OnLive was initially set to charge a $14.95 monthly subscription fee on top of charging for games, but recently announced it's going sub-free. It had yet to actually charge any fees, as all active users were given a year's free subscription as part of its Founder's Program.