Posted on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 at 1:55 PM by Tim Bowers
12 Months can be a long time in any industry, but in the gaming world it can be a lifetime. At Eurogamer 2011, OnLive burst onto the UK gaming scene, they had one of the biggest stands at the expo and one of the longest queues. They gave away thousands of OnLive devices to promote their cloud gaming service and it was heralded by some as the future of the industry.
This year’s Eurogamer told a different story. Instead of the big stage and bold statements there was a quiet room at the back of the press area. In that room we caught up with Bruce Grove, General Manager for OnLive UK to talk about the past 12 months, the future of OnLive and the events that occurred just a few weeks ago that saw the company nearly collapse.
Last year’s presence at Eurogamer was huge. Did you expect there to be such a big response?
It was unexpected to be honest. We knew there’d be some excitement. In essence we were doing a platform launch and I remember talking to the organisers of Eurogamer, Rupert and David and they were excited as it was the first time a platform had launched at Eurogamer.
So here we were coming to the UK and doing this big product giveaway, it was a fantastic event, the response was phenomenal, the fans, the activity we saw afterwards, the service got absolutely slammed for a few days quite honestly, and it was an amazing thing to be a part of.
What about behind the scenes? Were you ready for such an overwhelming increase in traffic?
We had a plan to scale the service and we always knew we would have to. We spent time planning and charting and we’d also been in the US for about a year and a half so we had some background as to the way things might happen, but this accelerated far quicker than it had in the US.
In hindsight for kind of obvious reasons when we launched in the US we didn’t have that many titles and no one knew what cloud gaming was by the time we came to the UK we had about 200 games and a much richer offering, it was a very different service. We had this plan to scale servers which was supposed to take us through January we ended up pulling that plan in and scaling them up for October. It was quite exciting and caused a few sleepless nights.
After Eurogamer had finished was there a continuous build of the service?
Absolutely. We didn’t have a lot of marketing budget so after Eurogamer there weren’t any billboards or TV ads. We focussed instead on growing the service so what was 200 titles at launch is now 350. In January we also launched the virtual desktop so we were doing multiple things and really growing OnLive the company.
The Company has gone through some tough times over the past few weeks. What can you tell us about that?
When we got to 6-8 weeks ago it was a big changing event for us. What happened was we reached a point where we thought we had secured more money and funding but at the last moment that didn’t happen so all of a sudden the company didn’t have enough money to keep operating. One thing that we hold our hands up and are very proud of is that during the transition that was zero down time to the service. For anything web based to operate 24/7 without any downtime is an achievement, but during something like this for the service to continue and for there to be no interruptions to the players is something we’re very proud of.
The gaming industry is going through some tough times and there is no guarantee that having a genuinely good product means success so with the changes that the company has gone through is Cloud Gaming still the main focus?
One of the important things that events taught us is focus is important and gaming is absolutely a core focus. We love video game, we’ve built up a great team who are passionate about the games industry and we have a core understanding and background of everything we’ve built over the past four years.
Now it’s really about focussing on how we deliver those games to who and how do we partner with people who can deliver that experience.
Now that the dust has settled over the past few weeks what can we expect to see to get OnLive moving again?
A key focus for the company going forward is making sure we deliver the service to customers that can use it. If you look at last year we gave a lot of consoles out to a lot of people, but with the best will in the world we know that not everyone can get good broadband to use the service. So now we’re going to focus on those that we know can get good service.
We’re slowly starting to see faster broadband in the UK so what’s important for OnLive is Partnerships. Finding partners we can work with to deliver OnLive as a service which they can then deliver to their customers. That way the brand can build in the way that we’ve seen other media services building, such as streaming movies or music. We want to be one of those services that are delivered to a customer as part of a value package they are getting. I think that’s how you’ll see OnLive grow.
Keep a look out for Part Two where we will be talking the Cloud gaming industry OnLive’s role within it and their thoughts on Sony’s recent acquisition of Gaikai.
For more information on OnLive and their services head over to www.OnLive.co.uk
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