Interview with Blade CEO Emmanuel Freund on Cloud Gaming
Cloud gaming has arrived. With mobile gaming operating almost exclusively in the cloud and Google, Microsoft and Tencent gearing up in the space. Are we about to see the end of the Games Console and Gaming PC?
Some say cloud gaming is still a few years away, some say it’s already here. But what are the benefits for the industry and indies? We caught up with Blade CEO Emmanuel Freund to find out what he and his team are working on and get their thoughts on the opportunities in cloud gaming.
Blade, CEO, Emmanuel Freund
Firstly for anyone unaware of your business could you introduce yourself and Blade?
Blade is a cloud computing company, started by myself, Stéphane Héliot and Asher Kagan in 2015. Across the last four years, the company has proven to be a pioneering force in the cloud computing and cloud gaming space, through it’s high-end, cloud-based PC, Shadow. All three of us have a wealth of previous experience working across business, tech and also in navigating the start-up environment.
“Shadow is a leading, cloud-based PC, offering users an outstanding level of computing performance at a fraction of the upfront costs associated with similarly performing physical hardware.” Blade, CEO, Emmanuel Freund.
Tell us about Shadow, what is it, how does it work and has its release been a success?
Shadow is a leading, cloud-based PC, offering users an outstanding level of computing performance at a fraction of the upfront costs associated with similarly performing physical hardware. Since launching Shadow in 2016, we’ve experienced a period of exponential growth and are widely recognised as one of the pioneering names in the cloud-computing and cloud gaming space.
The service works by streaming a powerful virtual PC directly to any internet-enabled devices, by way of our highly secure data centres based throughout Europe and the US. Each PC is unique to each individual user and can be accessed via any screen with an internet connection.
Our goal with Shadow is to open up availability to high-performance computing and gaming, by removing the traditional barriers that prevent access, such as high upfront costs, lack of portability and the ongoing upgrade costs associated with keeping physical hardware up to date.
The service is a fantastic solution for anyone who relies on extensive computing power for everyday use, particularly gamers, editors, content creators and individuals on the move, or who work remotely.
What were the wow moments with Shadow?
One of the biggest wow moments for us came during our initial launch of the Shadow service back in 2016, when cloud-computing, as a consumer concept, was still in its infancy.
As a company, it was always our initial goal to prove the relevancy of cloud-computing technology, and that a cloud-computing model could work, and, ultimately, be highly useful for our users.
Our very first batch of 500 Shadow subscriptions sold out completely within a 12 hour period, demonstrating an intense demand from early-adopters for a new generation of computing tech.
“As consumers slowly trend away from direct ownership in favour of subscription-based models, we absolutely see the cloud as being integral to the future of both gaming, and computing in general.” Blade, CEO, Emmanuel Freund.
Are Shadow and cloud gaming the future of gaming, are we seeing the end of the console and gaming PC as we know it?
As consumers slowly trend away from direct ownership in favour of subscription-based models, we absolutely see the cloud as being integral to the future of both gaming, and computing in general.
When the benefits of cloud gaming, with increased access to games, low-costs, high-end graphic capabilities and portability, become more mainstream it will be increasingly difficult for traditional consoles to compete, which is why we’re seeing manufacturers begin to explore cloud options.
While adoption will take some time and there will, of course, be some PC purists who want to continue to build their machines, you only need to look at the music or film industries to understand the impact that streaming and the cloud has on the vast majority of general consumers.
“Naturally, we believe that mainstream popularity of cloud gaming is far, far closer than some people are suggesting.” Blade, CEO, Emmanuel Freund.
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer says that Cloud Gaming is ‘years and years away’, what do you say to that?
Naturally, we believe that mainstream popularity of cloud gaming is far, far closer than some people are suggesting. While it will take some time, the overwhelming popularity of current streaming services will ultimately expedite interest and adoption.
The unprecedented task that faced the pioneering streaming services, like Netflix or Spotify, was proving to consumers that renting their movies or music at a small monthly cost, rather than owning them directly, was a viable and attractive concept.
In 2019, consumers are more than comfortable with streaming their entertainment, so the barrier that remains is a general awareness of cloud-gaming. That is something that new platforms from well renowned companies like Google Stadia will massively help with.
With Google, Microsoft and Tencent now making serious moves into Cloud Gaming, what does this mean for you and the industry?
It is great to see established players entering the cloud gaming space, offering a number of exciting new opportunities for gamers. Google, Microsoft and Tencent will bring strong ties with developers, studios, and also huge cloud infrastructure and technological capabilities but, most importantly, their presence brings credibility to the cloud gaming space.
“Adoption of cloud gaming will be huge for indie developers, looking to get their game in front of a larger audience.” Blade, CEO, Emmanuel Freund.
What does industry adoption of Cloud Gaming mean for Indie Developers, is this an opportunity for them?
Adoption of cloud gaming will be huge for indie developers, looking to get their game in front of a larger audience. Cloud gaming and in particular, agnostic platforms like Shadow, which offer access to various game libraries, rather than just the games allowed by the manufacturer, mean that indie devs will no longer need to jump through various hoops, and pay the extortionate costs, to get their game in front of a mainstream audience, as they currently do on gaming consoles.
How can Indie Developers work with you and Shadow?
Being an agnostic platform, developers don’t have to work with Shadow to have their work seen. If it is available on a PC, it will be available on Shadow.
What are you working on next that we can look forward to?
We are constantly improving our service, ensuring that Shadow doesn’t rest on its laurels and matches the performance of the current top of the range gaming PC’s. New cloud-enhanced features are also coming, as well as dedicated experience on mobile and TV.
You can find out more about Blade and Shadow here