Video gaming goes streaming

Chris Caceres · September 3, 2009 · Short URL:

OnLive launches public beta to change the way we play games and disrupt the industry

Gaming has gone streaming.  OnLive just opened the doors of its public beta and is looking for gamers to try out a whole new way of "on demand" gaming.  

If you haven't heard of OnLive yet, it basically removes the whole aspect of having to download, install, insert a disc, insert a cartridge, etc...when loading up a game.  How does it do this - OnLive streams the video signal of those games to our device, whether it be a TV or computer simply through our Internet connection.  If you are playing on a TV, there is one piece of hardware involved, a console smaller than the actual controller, which outputs the video signal to your television.  The games are being run up in the "cloud", on OnLive's servers.  So if my computer doesn't have a really powerful video card, I can still play some high quality games because I'm simply streaming the video signal.

 Steve Perlman, CEO and Founder of OnLive, wrote in a blog post, "One of the key challenges that OnLive technology addresses is providing a high-quality, fast-response gaming experience over a wide range of situations: different speeds/locations/types of broadband services, a variety of different PC and Mac configurations, several kinds of input and display devices, etc. So, a major focus of OnLive Beta is to test as many of these different situations as we can."

So all those questions I have about - how good the quality will be, what if my Internet connection sucks, what if my video card is weak, are set to be addressed and answered in the OnLive Beta.

Beyond technical and gameplay issues, the concept of OnLive is sure to disrupt the gaming industry as a whole.  If you think about some of the issues today, like pirating games as one clear example, OnLive has a big solution - a subscription based model.  Since users need to pay a monthly fee in order to access OnLive games up on OnLive's servers - how are they going to download, copy and pirate those games?  It's simply a video signal being streamed live to their desktops or TV's.  I'll admit, I beat Blizzard's Warcraft 3 from a pirated disc install my friend obtained as a torrent download.  This streaming method of playing games could be even more secure than Apple's method of buying and downloading games in the App store, if I want to play free games on my iPhone I can - I can simply JailBreak it.  

And OnLive will be offering some pretty big brand, high quality names through its service.  Some of those advertised on its site include, Mirror's Edge, Crysis Warhead, and 2K Sports Major League Baseball 2K9.  OnLive's current partners include EA, Ubisoft, T2  and THQ to name a few.  

I'm really interested to see how these games run using OnLive's technology, and that's why I've signed up for the Public Beta.  I've been a gamer since the Atari days of Pong, Pacman and Frogger up until today when I'm playing remakes of those on my iPhone.  

Perlman wrote, "Beta is an AWESOME milestone for OnLive, capping many years of work. We’re really looking forward to hearing what you think."

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