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Sony and Orange have made waves in the cloud gaming sector this week

Sony and Orange have made waves in the cloud gaming sector this week

Orange on Thursday acquired a minority stake in Japanese cloud-based gaming specialist G-cluster for an undisclosed sum. The service provider said that cloud gaming represents an important opportunity and will expand upon an existing agreement whereby G-Cluster provides software services to Orange.

G-cluster already provides the software platform for Orange’s cloud gaming service that is currently available for almost three million customers of Orange TV in France. The new partnership will allow G-cluster to develop internationally and see Orange expand its cloud gaming offering across Europe.

Orange’s role as a network operator gives it a distinct advantage in the cloud gaming arena, as network quality and user experience are the key issues cloud gaming firms are struggling with. Network agnostic player OnLive has run into issues regarding latency for its games.

Orange said it aims to create value through its high speed broadband networks on fibre and 4G, by offering customers an innovative experience of gaming across all screens, TV, PC, tablets and smartphones.

The supposed benefits of cloud gaming is that it can offer an easily accessible platform that enables users to instantly play games on their TVs without any need to download large files. They can then continue their game, at home or on the move, using their PC, tablet or smartphone and experience multiplayer, multi-platform gaming. All of these elements are network dependent however.

Earlier this week, Electronics giant Sony revealed its plans for cloud gaming company Gaikai, which it acquired in 2012. The technology has been used to build PlayStation Now – a game streaming service that will launch in the US in the summer.

The cloud-based PS Now will deliver a variety of popular PlayStation 3 game titles to PS3, PS4 and PlayStation Vita connected gaming consoles. Additionally, most 2014 US models of Sony’s BRAVIA TV2 lineup will support PS Now. The end game is that Sony will eventually expand the service beyond PlayStation and its own native platforms and will allow users to stream PlayStation games on numerous other internet connected devices.

In terms of access, PS Now will offer gamers the opportunity to rent by title on a one off basis or choose a subscription that delivers additional value.

The system is being demonstrated during this week’s CES convention in Las Vegas. But cloud-based gaming is still a concept very much in the developmental stages. OnLive, which launched in 2012 after eight years in development and funding from AT&T Media Holdings, Lauder Partners, Warner Bros., Autodesk and Maverick Capital, has struggled to make its business work.

To be fair, the company has had a disastrous relationship with late investor HTC, which chalked up tens of millions of dollars in losses to OnLive, when it emerged the company significantly underestimated the amount and cost of resources such as data centre space, causing accelerated cash burn. Then the company went through a period of upheaval in 2012, with mass layoffs, a sellout and eventual relaunch.

But the problems that dog OnLive are the same as those Sony will face and hinge largely on elements outside of the company’s control. In the main, the quality and experience provided by the network the service is delivered over is critical as latency is of utmost importance, with reviews suggesting the performance is still somewhat lacking.