What’s Exciting About OnLive’s Gaming Model
Basically, OnLive brings cloud computing to gaming. In non-geek speak, the planned service will stream games to customers’ PCs, Macs, or TVs. OnLive runs the games on its own high-end servers—independent of the users’ hardware—while accepting controller inputs and streaming video of the gameplay through the internet. So conceivably, customers will be able to play the latest graphics-driven first-person shooter, even if they’re doing so on a two-year old computer barely creaking by.
That, says founder Steve Perlman (also the founder of WebTV), is a big benefit:
OnLive is somewhat future-proof, meaning that players won’t have to upgrade anything to keep on playing games on the system years into the future. Instead, the upgrades will happen on the back-end, with the company regularly boosting the power of the servers it uses to host and stream the games.
Of course this whole setup, totally reliant on internet connectivity, will require fast broadband connections. On his own feature of the service, CNET’s Daniel Terdiman recommends at least a 1.5 Mbps connection for “standard-definition play” and 5Mbps for high-def.
I wonder how quickly hardcore gamers (and gamers in general) will adopt this model. No doubt, the chance to play the latest games trouble-free is a great incentive. But I’m thinking OnLive won’t try running their games at maximum settings, unless they want costs to skyrocket. That setup may turn off dedicated players who like their games powered by top-of-the-line specs. Also, as a frequent gamer myself, I feel a bit uncomfortable keeping my saved games and player data on a third-party server (though it’s true that we already save a lot of our personal info online nowadays).
And is OnLive offering its brand of gaming too early? As reader Carl said, “It’s just… just too ambitious”. Maybe the service, despite reportedly relying on a subscription-based business model and one-shot or total ownership packages, may burn through money too quickly. As a first-mover, OnLive will have to face a lot of challenges and deal with them quickly on the road to profitability. But if they succeed, they could potentially change the face of gaming forever.
(Image courtesy of OnLive)