Sony acquires Gaikai – what next?

It’s been rumoured for a while, and earlier this week Sony finally confirmed what many had taken as pretty much gospel since E3 anyway: its acquisition of Gaikai, a cloud-based gaming service created by David Perry of Shiny Entertainment fame.

So what? How’s that business move going to filter down to our everyday gaming experience? Here’s what the industry experts reckon:

“This won’t impact next gen at all” – that’s Michael Pachter of investment firm Wedbush Securities, speaking with GamesIndustry International.

“I think that Sony is doing this for strategic reasons, and think that they want to control the migration from consoles to the cloud.  Owning Gaikai lets them integrate the service into Sony smart TVs, and allows them to integrate with PSN and PS4 as they see fit. It also keeps Gaikai from competing or falling into the hands of a competitor.”

So that’s one view: that this is essentially damage control on Sony’s part. It allows them to decide the pace of cloud gaming’s integration in the home, and prevents them from being beaten out of the blocks by Gaikai as a competitor.

It’s a view shared by the fantastically-named Piers Harding-Rolls, senior analist for Screen Digest speaking to Eurogamer:

“Sony needed to make some sort of judgement about whether it could build [a cloud gaming service] in-house or whether it was better to acquire. What they’re paying for is not so much the assets that are involved, but it’s more about getting a head-start, buying time, being able to launch the streaming services earlier than if they’d just tried to do it in-house.”

IDC research manager Lewis Ward expects to see some form of cloud gaming implementation this gen, though:

“I think this is ultimately more about the PS4 platform than PS3, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see some streaming game demos at least surface in Home and in the PS Store within the next year.

I think Sony will hold off on the streaming of AAA games until the PS4 arrives and they can offer some interesting subscription levels.

Nicolas Lovell, Gamesbrief owner foresees Sony working the exclusivity angle of Gaikai hard: “Sony buys it, because cloud gaming is an existential threat to a core part of their business. They then try and integrate it, but they integrate it Sony style – they integrate it and all of a sudden they have to work with the Sony Online Networks, and it has to be integrated into Bravia, and it will only work on certain televisions and not others, and it will have to carry PlayStation branding and you won’t be able to use it if you’re not building a PlayStation game.”