I feel it’s my geek given duty to make a post about this presentation. I was lucky to finally have the time to watch their hour long presentation and Q&A session at the Game Developer Conference 2009 (which ends a couple of days from today). They could have not picked a better place to finally demo their technology.
In short, they’ve introduced a huge new concept to the video game industry, I’d call it “Cloud Gaming” to not only host the games, but also host the processing juice. You won’t need a console anymore, they keep the hardware to execute and stream the game to your screen. They support TV (with a miniconsole), PC and Mac.
So bear with me, they say they have solved the issue that you’re thinking about now, Lag. The people behind this worked on apple to create Quicktime, and they identified differences between what it takes to compress linear (regular) video, vs Interactive Video. They say their compression algorithm doesn’t take seconds of lag (like when you stream over a webcam), but miliseconds. They have custom chips to process the graphics, and I bet they might even built their own network protocol right on top of IP.
So what are some of the implications of this:
- We’ll all be able to finally play Crysis and even more demanding games on low end PCs
- No more buying more hardware, no more upgrading your PC to be able to run games, no more buying consoles
- All your games live on the platform, so you can play from any computer, and you’ll keep the state of your game until the last time you hit the Pause button
- Your friends can see you play, live. I bet we’ll be able to see live tournaments, we’ll start seeing a new breed of famous people get more attention, the Elite gamers. Imagine seeing the best Call of Duty player in the world playing live
- New Genres of video games will emerge on this platform, maybe even new genres of entertainment, think new Live Broadcast shows where participants use an avatar to either act or compete (game show)
- Game Developers not need to think of the rendering limitations that they might have nowadays, and will be able to design games that could only be imagined in the past. Render quality only thought for movies will now exist for video games, think of virtual reality now
- There’s about 100 million PCs/Macs/Laptops out there that are not ready today to play high end games, now they’ll have the possibility of playing virtually any game by installing a 1Mb plugin from OnLive.com
- Takes Piracy out of the Business Equation
- A bigger gaming audience makes an even better case for companies placing advertisement in video games, maybe there will be a lot more high end free games with bigger audiences, think the next Grand Theft Auto coming out for free with superb real life like graphics rendering, all ad sponsored and free to the consumer. The amount of people that you could have playing a great game for free would make other developers think twice about charging for their games and having their virtual worlds ad sponsored.
- No more installs
- Now multiplayer will have almost no latency since all players live inside their datacenter, you only get the latency of your ISP if there’s any
- Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft must be shitting their pants
- Services that sell used games are going to be selling vintage and their business will be reduced
However I think there will always be room for the old consoles. This is the biggest entertainment industry in the world, we have grown up with consoles for almost 30 years and there’s a lot of changes to push into people’s minds:
- How do you convince me, that finally made up my mind after years and dropped $500 on a PS3 to play with my friends in latin america online to switch to this, if my friends will probably have no way to even have access to the system in years to come?
- How do you convince PC gamers that rather pay for the hardware and pirate the games? (There’s plenty of those, probably the majority of the PC gaming population outside the US never plays for a PC game, and doesn’t get into consoles because they pirate the games) into renting or buying games on the cloud?
- How do you convince all the people that they should switch when their gaming experience depends entirely on being connected to the internet. So If the ISP is having issues I can’t play? isn’t my console awesome?
It seems that many of these complains are similar to all the complains brought upon business models that didn’t exist online and that are now thriving. This presentation left me with my mouth wide open, and I highly recommend you watch it. You’ll be blown away by the power of the UI, and how as you Browse for games, you can even see how other people are playing live, it’s like streaming video is nothing for OnLive. Really sick technology.
In the case that they succeed, I just can’t wait for them to have competition by the existing big brands, it’s going to get so interesting once cloud gaming becomes the defacto platform, maybe we as consumers will end up playing games for free, all sponsored with in game ads.
Just by listening to the guy if you’re a techie, your mind will start to fly to barely start to imagine the awesomeness of the technology that should be behind this. I can imagine anything from custom virtualization technology, to custom GPUs, custom network cards, custom network protocols on top of IP, deals with major internet backbone networks, ISPs, deals with game publishers, sick level API development, incomprehensible comprehension technology for my retard brain… when I see shit like this, I always think… how the hell is there people that still believe in god? Mankind is the closest thing there is to something like that! I’m thankful for people in this world that can think so big.
The service is supposed to launch next Winter 2009, but you can sign up to be a beta tester