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Carlucci

On-Live: New On-demand gaming venture

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This doesn't really fit in Consoles or Computers, so thought I'd stick it here.

 

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB123787473566622741-lMyQjAxMDI5MzI3NDgyNzQ0Wj.html

 

technology that allows advanced games to be run remotely on servers and played over the Internet. The technology can quickly compress and decompress large amounts of data for transmission over standard home broadband networks, helping entry-level personal computers and specially equipped televisions play the sophisticated software.

 

it has signed up nine software publishers -- including Electronic Arts Inc., Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. and THQ Inc. -- which have agreed to offer their newest game titles through the service.

 

OnLive says services that allow graphics-rich fast-action games to be played from a central server remotely are not currently possible -- in large part because current technology can't provide the instantaneous two-way response time they require. Mr. Perlman said his company has worked seven years on that problem, and has solved it.

 

 

Opine.

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Great tech, doomed product for the US market I suspect in its current design. Any latency will kill the quality of the experience, combined with the various traffic caps coming into place, combined with the issue of scalability on the server side, make it a really hard sell unless they get ISPs or someone like Time Warner on their side. It might have more potential outside of the US where the economies don't support selling expensive PCs or consoles.

 

Trion Networks are doing something similar in the MMO space, I believe.

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I agree with Dogbert and have to add that a significant portion of North America likes the physicality of ownership. While DLC is a great option, even DLC games that you can hold locally, the fact that you never truly physically Own the media in question makes it a hard sell.

 

I'm not interested in renting game experiences that way. Most especially if the rental "expires" if I upgrade or change consoles. It's just as bad as having to pay over and over again for something I've already seen or bought, and honestly I can't be bothered to do that. I'd rather spend my money on something tangible.

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Dean Takahashi @ VentureBeat's got a big article up about OnLive too. He specifically talks about "A packet can make an entire round trip in 80 milliseconds".

 

80ms is like 4 or 5 frames for a 60fps game. Ouch.

 

have to add that a significant portion of North America likes the physicality of ownership.

 

As we've discussed many times, as time goes on that is increasingly going to be a minority view.

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If the latency for controller input is tollerable than I'd definately be interested in this. I haven't upgraded my PC since buying one in 2004 and just can't be bothered to upgrade every year or two just to be able to play a few PC games here and there. Will be interesting to see what happens.

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There was another company testing this type of gaming solution and I was lucky enough to get in on a beta for it. It worked but the latency was very hit or miss... Some game sessions were amazing and I was really thinking that this was what cloud computing would do - that we might actually have "arrived" - and then I'd get a session where it was virtually unplayable due to input lag :( And I would default back to a standard console game or something else because it was nothing but frustrating with lag.... My impression is that this is where things are heading but, it may still be a little premature to launch in 2009. Regardless, I think they'll find a niche market like former GameTap customers or something and be able to sustain themselves... Whether it ever gets bigger than that is anybodys guess.

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Just wanted to post an addendum that I should have clarified: The service I was in beta for worked brilliantly when played at SD resolutions. this was also on a BT DSL line that was 6mbps max :( Even with this though, titles like Bioshock and even Crysis played and looked solid with no perceptable input lag as long as the resolution was kept at 800x600 or so. Point being that as higher network bandwidth becomes more readily available it should unlock higher "resolutions" to play at and really the only limiting block was the network pipe.

 

And what a cool idea this *could be: Software companies would not have to worry nearly as much about system requirements - sort of like the Korean gaming cafe's where the game only needs to be spec'd to play on the cafe's systems. Home users can still play of course but, they will be responsible for getting their machines up to par. Hardware manufacturers can sell entry level systems with the same margins they are now but sell them in much longer cycles without as many model refreshes (at least to some degree). Maybe even sell entry level models as game capable with a service like this preinstalled. It effectively eliminates piracy by hosting the games on the remote servers and requiring an account and authentication to play.

 

So many cool possiblities - and so many points of failure too :) heheheh cool stuff though

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I heard someone recently say they tried the beta. It was good for some games, but not others. Think it may have been Pachter

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Heard rumors that they are going to release it in February, but in my opinion, they could as well keep dragging this on well into next year.

 

A bit sad that most of the games they got now can also be found in Xbox 360 or PS3, I hope they'll add more games that can only be played in a PC like : Empire : Total War.

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I've been in the beta test since December '09. Can't really say much other than that but I'll say that some of the features looks promising but there are quite a few areas that really need a lot of work.

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I originally applied for the Onlive beta after GDC, when it was opened to the public at large. Instead of a beta invite, I just got offered one "free year" of service & "one free game" with "no further commitment". That's one way to drive up business.

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Just got my invite for the free year, and then the second year at a a discounted month to month price.

 

I did find it funny in the FAQ it mentions mass effect 2 being only able to play on Windows because of licensing restrictions. Guess it was part of the deal EA/MS made.

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Are they geographical restrictions on who you can play with? In my thinking, you will either have to play within a very tight region, or you won't have any control over who you will play with/against due to the tight non-latency requirements.

 

 

Carlos.

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I'm tempted to see how well it works.

 

I just tried it out to see how the tech worked, and it's actually pretty impressive. You can download the client for free, and try some demos, and other than the selection being pretty thin, and the UI for picking games being pretty craptacular, the streaming games seem to just work. I tried a little of the Arkham Asylum demo, and a little UT3, and gameplay-wise they both at least worked. I did keep getting a popup about network quality, and I did notice some atrifacting, but none of the input felt overly laggy. I don't know that I'd ever buy anything on there, and I'd like to try it at home over wireless, but at least the tech seems solid. I'd also like to see how much bandwidth it's actually using as well, and how it works through a more restrictive firewall.

 

Maybe I'll try installing the client on my MAME cabinet-that's probably the oldest PC that I've still got that's working :)

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Here's an interesting move... Preorder Homefront on the Onlive store, get the Online standalone hardware unit for free (you pay shipping + tax).

 

http://www.joystiq.com/2011/02/25/onlive-giving-away-free-microconsole-metro-2033-with-homefront/

 

They're even throwing in a 'free' copy of Metro2033 on the system for doing it.

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Allright, who is the brave one? Starts shipping 12/2.

 

http://www.onlive.com/game-system?utm_content=MCLaunch_Members&utm_campaign=OGS+Launch&utm_source=iPost&utm_medium=email

 

 

Do we need to start a pool on Joey?

 

 

 

Carlos.

 

 

LOL I didn't see this when you posted it. I have no need for the on live console. I already have a gaming PC, and I can also use it on my Mac. I have tried a few games using the service. It is a very cool idea, but hope this idea is used on existing consoles in the future.

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I don't see any of the console manufacturers being interested in allowing this service on their ecosystem.

 

Much more likely on your cable box or "app enabled" TV.

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