Interview

Agawi: Cloud gaming has 'reached its inflection point'

Gaikai buyout proves big boys want to play ball

Agawi: Cloud gaming has 'reached its inflection point'
OnLive may have run into trouble, but there's little sign longterm interest in cloud gaming platforms is dying down.

Indeed, according to Rajat Gupta – co-founder and CEO of Agawi, formerly known as iSwifter – Sony's decision to acquire OnLive's rival Gaikai is all the evidence we need to know that this is a market major players are keen to have a hand in.

According to Gupta, OnLive's faults aren't industry wide. The firm simply got its strategy wrong – a mistake Agawi, which is now spreading out from its base on iOS to the likes of Android, Windows and smart TVs, has no plans to replicate.

We caught up with Gupta for his take on why he thinks why, with the cloud, the only way is up.

Pocket Gamer: We've been covering iSwifter's development on PocketGamer.biz for over a year now. How is take up of the platform going?

Rajat Gupta: We're streaming 12,000 titles to three million gamers in 150 countries. And now that we're growing beyond solely the iPad to multiple platforms, like smart TVs, Android and Windows tablets, and even PCs, we're optimistic about seeing our user base grow.

Since the Agawi platform is solely based in the cloud - as opposed to OnLive's reliance on their own data centres - it's extremely flexible and has the potential for huge reach across all cloud platforms, such as Azure, Amazon, etc.

Why the name change to Agawi?

iSwifter was very focused on streaming games to the iPad, and we wanted to truly express our reach across platforms - iPads, PCs, Macs, Android and Windows tablets, and smart TVs.

We're also emphasising that we can stream any game genre, from social casual to midcore and hardcore, regardless of big data requirements for console-quality graphics.

Agawi stands for our slogan and mission statement: "any game, anywhere, instantly."

What do you think the streaming part of Agawi offers developers that the likes of OnLive and Gaikai can't?

Flexibility, lower operational costs, and access to a wider market of gamers.

The world today has a much higher number of gamers than it did just a decade back. Orders of magnitude higher. These gamers are split across casual, social, mid-core and core genres on the gaming content side and PCs, tablets and, soon, TVs on the consumption device side.

Only the Agawi cloud gaming platform offers the flexibility, economies of scale that come from leveraging cloud infrastructures and wide reach to serve these diverse gamer audiences with even more diverse gaming genres.

Incidentally, what do you make of OnLive's troubles of late?

OnLive had a flawed business model and its timing was off. Those behind it started before the cloud, whereas we see Agawi being post-PC and concurrent with the emergence of the cloud.

OnLive also tried to dictate which platforms publishers could stream their games to.

We have more of a B2B2C business model, where we work directly with publishers to help them stream across the platforms of their choice and deliver games to their audiences anywhere and everywhere.

How do you see Sony's Gaikai buyout impacting the industry?

It's been obvious for a while that gaming is heading to an all-digital future. We've seen it with other types of content such as movies - Vudu, Netflix, Hulu.

On the gaming side, digital downloads have already become pretty standard with serious ramifications for the distribution middle-men in the packaged games industry. I believe Sony's acquisition of Gaikai is a strong signal that cloud gaming is at an inflection point.

All-digital gaming in the form of streaming from the cloud is the way forward. Console economics are no longer sustainable.

On the other hand, with the drop in prices of server and GPU hardware, multiple providers are building GPU clouds. My prediction is we'll see players from all sides of the gaming value chain increasingly start to invest in a cloud gaming future.

Agawi boasts the ability to bring console and PC quality game to touchscreen devices with ease. Do you think these are the kinds of games mobile gamers want?

We think that the definitions of 'console gamers' and 'mobile gamers' are becoming more fluid, and that these areas are converging.

Increasingly, console makers have been trying to make handheld devices like the PS Vita catch on, so that's a clear sign that they recognise gamers are looking to play games anywhere and at any time, not just at home and tied to a console.

What is your long term plan for Agawi? Would you welcome a buyout if someone made a move for the company?

In the last two and a half years, we've built what we believe is truly a world class cloud gaming platform. Our team of rockstar engineers and PMs is second to none.

However, there are a number of other ideas we have to push the frontiers of this technology even further. We intend to continue focusing on creating more value, which will benefit the entire gaming ecosystem.
Thanks to Rajat for his time.

You can find out more about
Agawi on the platform's website.


With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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