With the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2009 now underway the furore seems to be centring on a new device called OnLive. The device aims to eliminate the need for separate games consoles such as the Xbox, Playstation or PC and even the need for any actual games.
OnLive only needs a small decoding device to work and all the games are stored on servers at the company’s headquarters. Instead of playing the game locally your controller will play the game on their servers and through video compression a video of your interaction with the game will be sent back to your box to display what is happening.
While the promise of a cheap console, lag free (???) gaming and relieving us of the need to ever leave our couches to buy the latest game seems promising, I remain wary to say the least. I can’t be the only one who has serious doubts about this and I hope that this is not the face of the future gaming for a long while at least.
The first issue is the promise of lag free gaming. Call me a sceptic but I am highly dubious, lag depends upon how far away from their servers you are and on your internet connection. My connection seems to struggle with small flash videos sometimes, let alone High Def videos. Additionally, what happens if your connection drops out as most connections in the UK see to be prone to do? Seems you would be unable to play any games at all.
The next issue I have is the price. The box may be cheap but the pricing of the titles online and possibly a fee for subscription to the service will probably mean the costs will soon add up.
Finally what would happen to the competition? The gaming market seems to be thriving at the moment because of the competition between Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to create the best selling console and a unified video console would probably stifle the market.
I will be keeping a dubious eye on development that this may bring.
A video can be found of the OnLive service can be found here
Let me know what you think. Are you excited for the future or are you wary?