David Perry: Cloud control

David Perry: Cloud control

By Rob Crossley

November 29th 2010 at 2:30PM

We catch up with David Perry as he puts Gaikai to the mercy of the masses

Last week David Perry said he “decided to stop coming up with excuses not to launch Gaikai” and sent out beta invites to 1,000 enthusiasts.

His company will now send out invites in waves of 10,000, he writes, “until all issues are fixed”.

Still with so many questions in the air, Develop sat down with Perry to outline the next year for his company.

Many people expected Gaikai to launch in full this year, how has business been going?
We’ve gone through some changes at Gaikai since Intel invested in us, we’ve been looking at how to scale really big.

To justify the cost of the current servers we have to run multiple games on each one. And we’ve been designing a brand new server with Intel, and very close to finishing the first prototype.

We call it a zero day server; it’s got custom video cards, it’s amazing high tech and in fact we’ve just managed 14 World Of Warcrafts running on one server. That’s outrageous.

But it’s called a zero day server because we can get games on there really quickly – within 24 hours in fact. That’s a game changer for us. Imagine how useful that is to us in meetings by saying we can add a publishers’ games to Gaikai in a matter of hours.

So this has meant a delay in your operations?
No. This is actually a side-effect of something else. Our plan was to launch October 1st, but then we got an offer to launch on a large gaming website. We’ve been negotiating that deal for a little too long now, but now it’s almost done.

So, why we’ve been waiting, we’ve been building this second server type.

What’s happening with the full game service? Still on for 2011?
When it’s ready depends on how much focus we put on it – technically all the work is done.

The only hurdle now is to get television manufacturers to support high-performance video. They all have hardware decoding, but most have some limitation. They usually buffer the video, because they think you’re about to watch a movie, so we need to get that out of internet-ready TVs.

We started down this trail, talking to TV manufactures to take buffering out of their sets, and they’re already thinking about doing it anyway because they’re thinking about introducing video-conferencing.

So we look at this as screens as platforms; iPad, Facebook, TV sets, all browsers.

That’s why I was surprised you put a 2011 date on the full games service, because the possibilities are fairly wide open.
Well now we’re testing our tech with the Beta. I’ve hired companies to do compatibility testing – but I need millions of people to play to know that we’ve nailed it on all browsers.

So, is a full games service still planned for 2011?
Yes. There’s going to be a large announcement on who’s going to lead that initiative. We’ve got some one pretty important.

Is Gaikai on home consoles a possibility?
It’s not impossible.

Have you spoken to any of the console manufacturers?
You can imagine I have. An interesting moment in time was when OnLive basically stated to all the console manufacturers that it was trying to replace them – trying to dominate the TV – whereas we are trying to help console manufactures.

Gaikai on consoles is technically possible right now.

Do you expect to sign with a console manufacturer?
We’ll see. We’d like to partner with them, we’d like them to take advantage of game streaming. I don’t think it makes any sense for them to build their own network when Gaikai is already there for them – we’ve been working on this for three years.

I think consoles will eventually go digital-only. It’ll come in two phases; the first will be the consoles fully embracing streaming and all other online services. The second will be little Hockey putts – like Apple TV. They’ll be small $99 dollar things.

This year you signed a landmark deal with EA.
We wanted to try and land the number one entity in every category, and EA is the number one in PC publishing.

How’s business with Activision?
Very good. I would say we have about 100 deals in the air right now, with publishers, TV firms and so on. I haven’t have one single publisher flat out say no to us – all the big brands you know of have said no to us.