OnLive impressed me – a very slick interface and great way to quickly play any number of games or watch others play. Without a doubt the future of gaming is cloud based – the removal of hardware and other barriers to content gives complete freedom to gamers – you can buy a game anytime and play it on anything that supports the OnLive app. OnLive is a great name for the product and very marketable – without knowing anything about the product it would take a complete hermit no more than a few minutes to have a rough guess at what kind of service a product with that name would provide. In all fairness it’s probably piggy-backing off Microsoft’s Xbox Live too (not to mention the 360 controller) – but that’s a smart move. You’re giving people something completely new but with a touch of the familiar to help lure them in; it’s kind of like the big bad wolf dressing like Red Riding Hood’s granny to get her within eating distance.

Gaikai is actually slicker than OnLive as it doesn’t require any kind of app – everything you need to run a game is somewhere other than your device. The main advantage to this of course is that you can play your games on machines where you wouldn’t usually have access to install any kind of app – such university or work computers, The thing that bugs me about Gaikai however is the name – sure, it’s a better service but the second question on the website’s FAQ is ‘How do I pronounce Gaikai?’. So now you are giving people something completely new, and making them guess your brand name. That’s a tough sell in my opinion.

Of course the other thing to consider is that there’s nothing to stop OnLive from changing its service to be app free as well – they may even be working on this right now. So then Gaikai’s unique feature is no longer unique and it’s left with a name some people can’t say. Let’s also consider the arrival of the ‘big three’ console manufacturers – how are Gaikai and OnLive going to entice consumers to their services when they can’t host any of the first party titles, together with the fact that the games it can offer are also going to be offered by the ‘big three’? Assuming the ‘big three’ do shift into cloud gaming it’s finally going to lay to rest the console war – with no entry fee to their games, everyone will be able to ‘own’ the future ‘hardware’ of the ‘big three’ – that’s worth getting excited about; a future where there are no barriers and only those making the very best content will survive.