Cloud gaming, you may recall, was the 'big new thing' at this year's Games Developers Conference in San Francisco earlier, with companies such as OnLive, Playcast Media and Dave Perry's GaiKai all pitching for a slice of the action.

This nascent sector of the gaming industry is gradually beginning to grow, what with this week's announcement from Dave Perry that his GaiKai cloud gaming service is about to enter the beta testing phase in Europe.

"Our closed beta has two goals," says Perry. "Number one is to bring our servers to their knees so we can choose the final configuration before we start ordering large quantities of them.

"We think we have it worked out, but you can be certain our staff will be swapping cards and testing different processors as each day goes by."

Perry's second goal "is to test older computers. We've had lots of emails from people describing their computers and 99 per cent of them have ample performance. Remember you don't even need a 3D card to see a 3D game run on our service.

"I know this is strangely counter to what people expect, but we actually want to get plenty of basic office-grade XP machines testing so we can make sure we can reach the widest audience possible.

"After we choose the hardware configuration in Europe, our next phase will be our USA Nationwide Network Test, that will be using 8 Tier-1 Data Centers, getting hammered by Closed Beta testers.

"During that process, will be identifying the other data centers we need to include to blanket the USA in a low latency array. Phase 2 of that is Europe, in exactly the same test."

Cloud cuckoo land?

The latest news of the Gaikai beta follows the recent testing phases of both OnLive and Playcast.

However, there are still many in the games industry and the wider gaming community that remain defiantly sceptical about the possibility of widespread cloud gaming threatening the current hegemony of gaming consoles and PCs in the home.

Not least, Awomo.com's Tim Ponting, who recently explained in a TechRadar guest blog why he thinks latency is going to be the hurdle at which the promise of cloud gaming falls flat.

However, if you are still a little more open-minded about the possibilities of gaming in the cloud (ie if you want to test out how well your old work PC runs up-to-date 3D PC games from a remote server!) and you are interested in becoming a GaiKai beta tester then head over to Perry's sign-up page.