E3: Samsung signs Smart TV cloud gaming deal with Gaikai
Samsung is to introduce a cloud-based video games service to its premium TVs.
It has signed a deal with Gaikai to use the California-based firm's streaming technology to let its customers play titles written for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 without having to own one of the consoles.
The tie-up was announced at the E3 games trade show in Los Angeles.
It appears to confound rumours that Gaikai was on the verge of being taken over by Sony.
Samsung said the service would be made available on its Smart Hub environment on high-end televisions released this year.
It will initially be restricted to the US where users will shortly be invited to sign up to a trial.Console competitor
"Samsung is excited to deliver this revolutionary gaming experience that takes advantage of all the benefits of cloud-computing, all on the central screen of the home," said Kyung-shik Lee, vice president of Samsung Electronics' visual display business.
Gaikai's chief executive David Perry added: "Together, we will turn Samsung Smart TVs into a console-like experience capable of delivering the best-selling video games and other content instantly to consumers - no downloads, no extra hardware, no trips to the store."
End Quote Giancarlo Varanini Senior editor, Gamespot
Streaming technology is very attractive in theory to publishers as it's a piracy buster”
The cloud gaming company was founded in 2008 and to date has focused on offering users the chance to play demonstrations of console-designed games via web browsers.
Samsung will pay the company a fee to use its cloud technology and then strike separate deals with games publishers to allow owners of its televisions to buy access to full titles.
The South Korean firm was not able to discuss which titles would be available at launch.Quality concerns
OnLive, another California-headquartered company, already offers users the chance to stream games to TVs via its Microconsole device.
However, both it and Gaikai's service have been criticised for offering an inferior experience to owning a dedicated games console.
Graphics are either shown at a lower resolution or with fewer frames per second. Players have also complained that it can take longer for their control pad commands to be registered.
The delayed response time is only a mater of milliseconds, but this can still put users at a disadvantage in fast-paced action games.
However, the recent announcement of new technology from Nvidia and the roll-out of faster broadband should address such issues going forward.Reaction times
One industry watcher at E3 said cloud gaming had huge potential, but might disappoint serious gamers in its present state.
"Streaming technology is very attractive in theory to publishers as it's a piracy buster," said Giancarlo Varanini, senior editor at the news site Gamespot.
"It makes it so much more difficult to copy titles when the files are located on a remote server.
"But broadband penetration isn't where it needs to be and the service isn't up to snuff for games which require a huge amount of precision. Gamers need quick reflex responses to compete with other players especially in multiplayer environments."
Gaikai had previously been linked to a potential takeover by Sony, and trade magazine MCV suggested the two companies might still announce a tie-up of some sorts.
A spokesman for Gaikai would not confirm or deny the report, saying only that: "We don't comment on rumours".