If the sudden implosion and resurrection of OnLive these past couple of weeks have given you pause for thought as to the viability of cloud gaming, it seemingly hasn’t affected the perceptions of Square-Enix, as the Japanese publisher will shortly be launching a cloud gaming service of their own, known as ‘Core Online‘.
While it still subscribes to the cloud gaming mantra of no downloads, no installation and no waiting, its execution however, is somewhat different from the likes of OnLive and rival cloud gaming outfit Gaikai.
Running from browser based plug-in and instead of streaming the game to the user as video which is what the latter and former companies do, Core Online aims to leverage the technology present in Google’s Native Client platform. Essentially, the jargon-tastic sounding technology enables a web page to take full advantage of the 3D graphics hardware contained within a PC or Mac, allowing real-time rendering of visuals from inside the web page.
That means razor sharp graphics and, in theory, much lower latency than you would see with the OnLive and Gaikai cloud gaming solutions.
Despite the software being seemingly skewed towards Google’s popular Chrome browser, Square-Enix has also said that by adapatating their own technology, they should be able to extend the same sort of functionality to Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers in the future.
In terms of the business model for the fledgling service, Square Enix is trying to turn an interesting trick; players are able to play games for free if they click on video ads, that when watched, allow you to play the game for a short period of time; a window-shopping demo if you like. Conversely, players will be able to skip the ads entirely by buying the games outright, or in the case of some titles, buying individual pieces of content.
That said however, the whole project is in relatively early stages, so it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect some wrinkles to be introduced to the business model that they’ve prototyped here.
Given the infancy of this intriguing new technology, the caliber of games that you’ll be playing on it will be relatively modest to start with. Hitman: Blood Money, Mini Ninjas, and Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light will be the launch titles when the service goes online this October, but as the technology improves and becomes more robust, so will the ambition of the titles which will find a home on the service.
While we’re not at the stage yet where cloud gaming is the de facto direction for gaming going forward, its always good to see companies experimenting with the technology and trying to overcome the hurdles which typically would stymie its mainstream acceptance.
Take a look at the debut trailer for the service below:
You can sign up for the service here.
Core Online launches this October.