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Gamers – See You in the Cloud

Gaming has always been a huge industry that comes with a lot of addicts, so it’s no wonder that major players have emerged, even if we’re only talking about the big three: Sony (with its Playstation), Microsoft (with Xbox) as well as Nintendo (with its Wii and DS series).

Apart from those console manufacturers, the personal computer has also become a station for gaming and is often a popular choice for most gamers. Indeed, gamers will often invest large amounts of money in order to get customised and over-boosted PC configurations.

Given the huge success of the gaming industry, a lot of newcomers have come into play and most will attempt to ‘reinvent’ the gaming experience. It all started with ‘LAN’- connected games where multiple players could compete against each other while being on the same local area network (LAN).

The introduction of network-based games was a huge innovation since gamers could now measure themselves against each other while having their own screen and console. As this concept of network-connected games became popular, it came as no surprise that the gamers ‘playground’ was soon to invade the Internet. While it ‘shyly’ started, the introduction of broadband Internet connection made a huge difference. Now gamers can join online games and compete against someone who is thousands of miles away – only knowing their opponent via their online avatar.

So the internet has become the El Dorado for game editors – major portals and Internet players also got into the ring and started to offer these games to their visitors. While it all started with small applications, the industry has drastically evolved. The industry is so successful that Zynga, one of the most prominent online game editors, is hugely contributing to the income of the social networking giant, Facebook.

But the Zynga experience is also a clear sign that Internet is becoming the new ‘games-console’ for a new segment of gamers. And ‘traditional’ game console makers like Sony now have to catch up by acquiring some of this segment of players within this field. For example, Sony have recently acquired the cloud-based gaming company called Gaikai for $380million.

While it isn’t expected that ‘genuine’ gamers will leave their favorite gaming console in favor of internet-based experience from any device (computer or Smartphone), the introduction of cloud-computing into the gaming industry can be quite interesting. For example, the cloud can be a great platform for game trials or ‘teasers’: one can think of using the cloud for a limited version of the game, then up-selling the console-based version of that same game.

This would make perfect sense – the gamer can have a limited ‘demo’ version of the game without having to install it on their favourite console. On another note, this can also be a great opportunity for game editors as this will allow them to make abstractions of the gaming console platform, thereby offering the same experience to gamers whether they use a computer, a Playstation, a Xbox or a Wii/Nintendo.

So what’s your view on this innovative approach to moving the gaming experience to the Cloud? Do you think it’s going to ‘replace’ the console-based gaming experience? Or do you think it will attract a new set of gamers that are more internet-oriented?

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