Wednesday, March 10, 2010
OnLive Goes Live June 17 2010
Games in the cloud in June. Let's see if it works.
Onlive runs games – they list Borderlands, Mass Effect 2, and others – on their server farms, and streams the video to your PC or TV. I've written about this before, in some detail, as the Twilight of the GPU; it's a possible "twilight" since obviously OnLive users need neither consoles nor high-end gaming PCs.
Ah, but will it work? Everybody, everywhere, is questioning that.
The most obvious issue is lag: the time between twitching a control and seeing the response. OnLive inserts a time-of-flight delay in there, which clearly can't help. Whether it will be enough to seriously affect gameplay is anybody's guess right now; the live demo at the original announcement seemed to play well, and they claim it'll be OK (but then, they would). The ugly fact is that console game developers struggle with lag now; that doesn't leave much slack for a long-distance connection.
There's another issue, one which most people are ignoring, that I brought up in my earlier post: bandwidth. The bandwidth chewed up in hours of gaming is large enough (see that post for the math) that it seems like it must force a response from ISPs.
We shall see. I'm pre-registered to be a beta tester when they do an external beta, or so their web site tells me. If they decide I'm worthy, I'll try it and post my reactions here. That will be interesting because of my location: I'm just north of Denver, rather far from all of their four centers: San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Dallas. I'm still with the 1000-mile radius they say is needed (600 mi. by air to Dallas), but hardly in their pocket like the usual Silicon Valley coterie of likely beta testers.
See that earlier post for more details about OnLive, or Google "onlive" and check out the many stories on this announcement. It's pointless for me to try to link to them here, since it went everywhere. Even AP. But here's CNET, and Reuters, and PCWorld if you want to read more about the announcement itself.
(This may be the shortest post ever to appear in this blog. I don't usually do "repeat the news" posts, but this one is both major and highly relevant to my general subject area.)