The cloud-based console will launch in Japan on June 20, and will cost around $140 with a $5 monthly subscription fee.
Earlier in the year, AMD unveiled some fancy new cloud based graphics cards. One of the projects they said they were working with was known as the "G-Cluster," though we didn't get too much info on it. It now looks like the G-Cluster is set to be an entirely cloud-based console, releasing in Japan on June 20 for around $140. Due to the cloud-based nature of the machine, users will pay a $5 monthly subscription fee for their games, instead of purchasing titles individually.
The G-Cluster is being produced by Broadmedia, a company that is behind various streaming TV and movie services in Japan. Kind of like Japan's Netflix. The launch titles will consist of mostly puzzle and adventure games with a few larger titles as a bonus, the most notable one being Lego Harry Potter. The $5 monthly fee gets you the base range of titles, but for an extra $30 a year you can unlock the system's full range of games. It connects to a TV via HDMI, and while it does come with its own controller, it is actually compatible with a large range of third party alternatives.
Followers of cloud computing might remember the cautionary tale of On-Live, a company that attempted to make an entirely cloud-based gaming system for PCs and smartphones. Unfortunately, a low install base and high setup costs landed them in some financial woes, and the project has been suspended. Nonetheless, other companies have been incorporating aspects of cloud gaming into their systems since then. Steam syncs savegames and other data to its cloud, and Sony recently bought out Gakai, the world's largest cloud gaming provider, to use with it's PS4. Microsoft claims cloud computing will actually increase the power of its Xbox One games, a claim prominent indie dev Jonathan Blow recently refuted.
While the torches and pitchforks were quick to come in in America at the mere suggested the Xbox One would be "always-online," over here in the land of the rising sun, it's not as big of a deal. The internet infrastructure of Japan is incredible; I live out in a small country town, yet I am able to easily get a 100 megabit connection. If that goes down (which is very, very rare) I can tether unlimited 4G from my phone for free.
Japan seems like the perfect market to test the waters of cloud-based gaming. There is currently no word on when (or if) the system will make it to the West.