OnLive to Revolutionize Gaming?
So this past week saw the announcement of the super-secret, seven years in the making gaming service called OnLive. Many blogs and news websites have touted this as the service that will make the games console and gaming PCs obsolete and the future of gaming. Not only that but if you read what OnLive promises to deliver they’re also pioneers of future Internet technology but I’m getting ahead of myself. I meant to blog about this earlier but as ever I wanted the dust to settle and give me the chance to read what my favourite gaming site Eurogamer had to say. When I read it I felt there’s no point in me posting my thoughts as they pretty much cover all the concerns and reasons why I thought it can’t possibly deliver on what they promise.
The main thing for me is they boast this service as an platform which can be played from a Windows or Mac PC as well as it’s ‘micro-console.’ Cool, brilliant love that especially as gaming on a Mac is pretty lacking in top notch titles. The reason I stopped playing games on my Windows PC was I was tired of having to upgrade every few months to play the latest title in it’s full glory. With my XBox I could play any of the latest titles without any upgrading and the only upgrade would be every few years when they release the new console. However when you consider the numbers that could potentially connect to this OnLive service you begin to wonder whether it’s at all feasible. According to a Gamespot article XBox Live currently boasts 17 million active members and the Playstation Network having 20 million members. If half of those join up to OnLive their servers would potentially have to deal with 18 million connections. That’s a little over the top I appreaciate but they could likely get say 1 million people wanting to play the latest games and they say no lag?
That’s the other thing, lag. Lag or latency is the bane of any online gamer and even with current tech you will, at some point, experience lag when gaming. However the boffins over at OnLive say they’ve eliminated it to the point where they can say that they’re service will be without it. That must mean then they have something completely new that no-one has figured out already but I simply can’t believe that. Even when I was gaming on a server where I had a ping of <10ms I still experienced lag, it was frustrating then and if I signed up to this service and was playing say Mirror’s Edge I’d be even more frustrated if I died because my input to jump was relayed that mili-second too late. The only thing I can think they’ll be doing is having different servers per game and even one per region and that’s a staggering amount so they must have a monumental amount of financial backing.
In the end it’s a cool idea and if it works, great! However it won’t spell the end of the console for one reason, this service relies on you being on broadband and while the numbers of broadband take up is on the increase it’s not reached everyone. There’ll always be those who will be too rural to get broadband or who plain don’t want or need it. It may become standard at some point in the future but too immediately for Microsoft or Sony to worry about. I wish OnLive all the best and if I lived in the US I’d apply for their public beta which is coming up. I guess like those ‘revolutionary’ services before time will be it’s judge.