A topical post for my blog today. There are a lot of blogs covering OnLive at the moment however most are doing so with far more enthusiasm than I will.
So what is OnLive? Well from Wikipedia.org:
OnLive is an on-demand video game distribution system announced at GDC 09. The service is a gaming equivalent of cloud computing with the game being computed, rendered and stored online. The service was announced to be compatible with any Intel based Mac or Windows PC running XP or Vista and is also able to stream games to the OnLive MicroConsole connected to a television.
Sounds good does it?
Not to me.
considering the average speed in the country is under 3meg this is not going to work. As for me personally? well I can barely stream videos from youtube, what hope do you think I have of playing Crysis on a remote desktop connection? Any guesses? Did I hear a “none”? Yes, I think you may be right. The internet in this country is simply not up to this, the copper in the networks needs replacing but that isn’t going to happen until BT think it is economically viable. So probably around the same time Hell has a frosty coating of snow then.
Did you notice I called it a remote desktop connection? Well that is because, as far as I can tell, that is exactly what this is. The game is running on a remote computer and is streaming video of the output to your screen, which brings me to the other problem with this. Lag. Anyone who has used rdp to operate another computer over the internet will know just how slow it is, I don’t mean slow in completing tasks, in that respect it is the same as being sat at the computer, it is the response time that is a problem, you click on the start button but it doesn’t know you have clicked until a second later. Anyone who has played Team Fortress 2 or Unreal Tournament will know that online games have compensation for this lag, but remember that these games only transfer positional data not video, all the rendering is done on your local machine and also remember that this correction is far from perfect and still results in people getting shot when they thought they were safely round the corner. In short, I don’t care how good their lag correction is, I don’t want to have to put up with any lag in a single player game.
So lets imagine (and it is purely hypothetical) that the internet is (magically?) improved by BT to a state where this system can flawlessly let me play games at high resolutions, what then? They will want everyone to buy the same dumb terminal and subscribes to games. Sounds good. No more upgrading your PC, no more incompatible hardware, no more dodgy Xbox ports that for no good reason need a processor from ten years in the future to run despite still looking like crap. But this brings me to my second problem. I happen to like upgrading my computer and making it better, I like tweaking my OS to get my games to run better, it is a hobby, just like tuning cars. Sure it costs money, quite a lot of money, but I wouldn’t have it any other way or I would buy a console. If all computers become dumb terminals all this will go, and there would be no need for innovation by the likes of Intel and NVidia. Nothing would get better, the server farms would just get bigger and it would be the end of the PC as we know it, taking what little control remains in the hands of the individual and putting it in the hands of big faceless corporations.
Note: Following additions are a result of comments by M_the_C
Talking of control brings me on to my (maybe) final point. OnLive is in fact the ultimate DRM , their PR is acting like they are doing you a favour but in reality it is more restrictive than any DRM to date. Forget about your limited activations and need to register increasingly long CD keys, at least currently all single player games (that I am aware of) can be played offline once installed. With OnLive you can forget about that. And what happens when your favourite game is removed from their severs to make way for generic shooter 2012? I can (and do) still play Doom, a game that was first released in 1993 but under this system once a game became less popular what is to stop them taking it down? With the game on your computer you could potentially crack it if the servers went down. A possible solution would be to release the games on DVD at a later date in much the same way that TV shows are released, but if TV Box sets are anything to go by this would be very expensive and the game would more than likely disappear forever.
Say no to OnLive, it is trying to kill off my hobby and is expected in Q4 this year.
 as of last year anyway, if you can find some more recent info I will update this.
 I’m not using the term “HD” because it is dumb, PC gamers have had higher resolutions than this HD for years, it isn’t new, it isn’t clever.
 They say for Mac and PC, but I think the idea is to get everything on one model, there won’t be a mac and a PC, just a Mac or PC channel on whatever the successor to onLive is.
 I have put aside up to £750 for a core i7 upgrade later this month, more on this when I do it.
 Don’t get me wrong I thing DRM is a good thing, when done preoperly, see my last article.