Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012 at 12:45 PM by Tim Bowers
Last Week at the Eurogamer Expo at Earls Court in London we caught up with Bruce Grover, General Manager for OnLive UK.
We talked about OnLive’s first year in the UK market and the events that occurred a few weeks ago and their plans for the future; you can find that part of our interview HERE. We then settled into a friendly conversation about the Cloud gaming industry, OnLive’s role in that industry and their feelings towards Sony’s recent acquisition of GaiKai.
Cloud gaming has gone from being a relatively unknown concept to one of the most talked about things in the gaming industry. Do you feel the concept is still in its infancy?
I think it’s definitely in its infancy, but I think what’s changed since we launched in the US is that first nobody knew what cloud gaming was and then over the course of a year people started to understand what it is, but they didn’t believe it was important, games companies, publishers, studios, no one really believed it was important. Now you go to any keynote speech, listen to people talking about the Video Game Industry and cloud gaming has become part of the discussion. Whether its browser gaming like Core Online, the new offering from Square Enix, or streaming like OnLive, these are all new technologies that are moving forward and showing that there is a value in new business models, there is a value in delivering games from the cloud. What’s important for OnLive is making sure that we’re part of those discussions because, quite frankly, we’ve been doing this for four years so we think we’re quite well placed to talk about this.
OnLive was the first major name in Cloud gaming within the UK, since then a lot of other companies have stepped forward, most notably Sony’s recent purchase of GaiKai. Do you see these events as competition or as a way to get the industry moving?
Any time that you are running a business and there is no competition, you probably want to take a look at what your business is. Yes, competition is important; competition is what moves the space forward. We don’t have just one video game platform we have several and we have people who are passionate about each of them. It’s always important that when you bring new technology, cloud gaming included, that there are enough people in the space to make it viable. All of these are raising the profile so whether it’s, as you say with Sony, or with what we’re doing, that’s building up the credibility and telling people it’s real. It’s telling developers to pay attention because this is happening, it’s telling consumers that there are new ways to get video games, all of this is what builds up the message, if this didn’t happen then OnLive would be on its own to try and get that message out there. It’s going to take a while, but at some point we’ll look back and wonder why we ever had consoles.
There’s an on-going battle at the moment between the older retail models and downloadable/cloud gaming, back when you were first starting how did you approach the developers and publishers to get them to put their games onto your platform?
We started those discussions back in the US 3 or 4 years ago and it took a long time to get those going. One of the nice things about the games industry, is its well connected, everyone knows everyone in it. You go in, sign an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement), you then call up someone else and they say ‘Oh yes, we’ve heard of you’.
Once we got the first of those meetings, we went in saying give us some of your titles, they don’t need to be the triple AAA rated stuff. When we launched we had 18 titles in the US, by the time we got the UK we had 200, now we have 350. Once you’ve got the first few people on board then other people start seeing it and say ‘I want some of that’ Now what’s key for us is to make it even easier for people to get content onto the platform.
I have a dream for the future and it might only be a dream at the moment but in the future I want to go to the Independent developers. A couple of people developing a game, then they can just hit a button and it goes up because it’s that easy. I want to streamline it and make it easier for developers and partners to get their content uploaded.
One of the key areas that the industry is struggling with is pricing. Developers and publishers are pricing downloadable versions at a higher cost than the retail sector. How are OnLive looking at that?
I was reading something similar the other day about Ebooks being priced the same as a hardback. It doesn’t make sense, where is the tangible product. Video games are going through the same thing, it’s going to be harder because there is this traditional retail model that everyone understands and that we’ve been locked into for a lot longer.
What OnLive sees as a big shift is the subscription package, more content delivered by a channel of games. For some pounds a month you get access to a massive bundle of content. I think we’re going to be seeing more things like how do I offer a kids channel, an FPS channel, a driving channel. Similar to Tv & Movie packages.
What about the rental market? There’s now a range of video game rental companies like Boomerang, Blockbuster and LoveFilm. Would OnLive offer a similar service for people to rent a £40/50 game before committing to buying it?
We do have a rental model, but we haven’t marketed it heavily. A lot of our games you can rent for three or four days, with the technology that model is relatively easy. I think it’s one of those things where we can do that without them having to make that big investment.
If someone who isn’t that heavily engaged in gaming goes into a store and sees two competing football games, they haven’t been paying attention so how do they know which one to spend the money on. That’s where subscription and rental packages come in; it’s making the content as easily digestible by more people so instead of getting that £40 once, you’re getting £4 ten times.
So what does OnLive have planned for the next 12 months?
I think 2013 is going to be key building these partnerships and relationships. Making sure we give the best experience and making sure we’re really focussed on who are market is.
For more information on OnLive head over to www.onlive.co.uk.
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