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Blueyonder gaming Q&A session
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers.
Murray Hume, Business Manager. blueyonder multiplayer games service (http://gaming.blueyonder.co.uk).
For those that have no idea what blueyonder gaming is about, could you please explain the main ideas?
blueyonder gaming is a mixture of public and paid for services that bring PC gamers together and allow them to play against each other remotely over a best of breed broadband network. The paid for service is all about giving gamers full control over their game, from map choices and game settings, whether you want to play just your mates or play anyone who wants a game, through to RCon. Basically allowing you to control every parameter in real time via a simple fully integrated website. In other words you get all the features of a clan server, and the technology means you get it instantly rather than having to request changes from an administrater. And from 6.50 a month, its all at a fraction of the cost of a clan server.
Many of the people that were around in the online gaming community will recognize that you have a number of the now defunct Gameplay staff on board. Did having staff that was already well known to the community help blueyonder setup online gaming services quicker?
The service was already in it's completion phase when the guys came on board. In fact some of what the service can offer was what brought them on board. I know that other players in the industry were chasing them and I'm pleased to say they chose us because our ideas and vision for PC online gaming were the same.
With other game service providers in the market, how do you wish to set yourself apart from them?
Some of our staff built Barrysworld, the others ran Wireplay, so we clearly have the experience and understand the mindset of our competitors. We used that experience and put simply we set out to build the best technology, the best proposition, with the highest bandwidth, lowest ping. We have the best staff, our own broadband network, and our community is second to none. If you look at many competitor services they make life far to complicated for the user to get a game.
You were one of the first big broadband operators to offer gaming services, do you feel that online gaming is an important factor in choosing blueyonder broadband over your competitors?
Absolutely, everyday there are more and more reasons to get broadband and when it comes to gaming, cable gives the best performance so it made sense to set up a dedicated service that was as good as the broadband connection going into it.
Latency is very important for gamers. Whilst having broadband helps a lot with that, what other investments have you made throughout your network to ensure latency remains low when usage increases?
For a technical answer it's best that you ask the network guys directly. What I can say is that we really do have a best of breed broadband network. Already the performance is fantastic and I know that the people involved in keeping it that way are keen to continue with the success they are having - to the point where upgrade news is regularly posted to user newsgroups to keep our customers informed of the upgrade work that we continue to do. With regards to the games service, it was built to be fully scalable from day one.
With online gaming moving towards a "pay-to-play" how will this affect the services you offer?
It really depends on what you mean by pay per play. The service we provide is that of renting server time/space and putting on events for our community. We don't actually charge for the game, users do that when they buy the game, we charge for the servers, the bandwidth and the community management - all of that stuff costs a lot of money that is why the industry is moving to a paid for model.
Is Blueyonder considering to launch a "pay-to-play" service?
We already offer paid for services that give the same functionality as having your own clan server, but you can also make all your game choices instantly and starting at 6.50 a month the price is much lower than a clan server.
What would you consider a reasonable amount to pay for a "pay-to-play" service?
If the service is as good as ours, up to 10 a month. But you have to remember that for a customer to want to pay 10 you have to build them a service that is actually worth 15, that's what we've done and continue to imptrove upon.
Looking at a current pay to play provider, Thrustworld, they haven't been very successful. Have you looked at their policies/pricing structure and taken notes in order to make any venture Blueyonder launches more successful?
In general we seem very often to take the lead in this market rather than the other way round. It's been a brave stance but it is working. The people I listen to are our gaming audience, our community, I suggest my competitors would be wise to do the same if they don't already.
Are we going to see competitions sponsored by Blueyonder in the future?
It really does depend on the nature and audience of the competition. If anyone out there has any interesting ideas they should send them through to me.
Most of the old Gameplay community moved over to the Blueyonder gaming community. Some have said that without taking on board the staff from Gameplay it would be a much rougher ride for you guys to get support in the gaming community. Do you feel this is true?
You have to remember that when we started this Gameplay and Barrysworld had both shut down so I think that the community needed a place to go to regardless of who ran it. It is correct to draw emphasis to the fact that we have a fantastic team here with a depth of experience that covers most of the companies that pioneered online gaming in this country. We picked every one of them for their commitment and experience and that was a smart move. I believe the community picked us because the whole team we continue that pioneering legacy - taking online gaming forwards, making it bigger and better.
How important is the support of the gaming community to you?
They are my customers - you can't get more important than that in my eyes.
We are starting to hear stories in the US about xDSL/cable providers introducing bandwidth charging. Can we expect this to happen in the future over here?
I can't comment on other peoples future plans. I know that bandwidth is not free and it's not even cheap.
You have recently launched 1mbit downstream / 256Kb upstream. How has the uptake on that been?
Very well - I imagine that a press release will give figures soon. I know our gamers love it.
Do you feel joining up with NTL to fight against BT is the best way you can penetrate the broadband internet market share taken up by BT?
I believe that if you look at the in franchise penetration figures that we are both beating them independently. I think this is a result of better products at better prices.
We would like to thank Murray for taking time out of his hectic schedule to answer our questions.
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