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OnLive Changing the Game?

CNET, VentureBeat, CNBC.com, and FT (and likely others) have articles on a new cloud computing gaming service called OnLive after Variety posted a story in advance of the unveiling of the service today. The service is the brainchild of entrepreneur Steve Perlman (QuickTime, WebTV) and has the backing of Warner Bros' WBIE. All the stories on the topic portray this as a potentially serious competitor in the home gaming scene, offering the ability to stream AAA quality games to any system without wait times, and if it works as planned, it does sound like it could significantly change the games market. Here's a summary from CNBC:

OnLive includes a tiny set-top box Perlman calls the "MicroConsole" that links the internet and the company's service to your TV, as long as your part of the country (that's the 70 percent part) has a broadband connection. Any laptop with a wi-fi, other wireless or network connection won't need the box.

Once you're linked to the subscription based service, you'll have access to game titles from Warner Bros., Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Electronic Arts, Eidos, Atari and a host of other top publishers who will all be announcing partnerships with the new service. Games can be accessed through the web, either bought or rented, and played by just a few participants, or players can play against thousands. There are no downloads, the games will live on OnLive's servers. It's an application of so-called "cloud computing" that the industry really hasn't seen before.

But here's the rub, and why Perlman tells me the days of the traditional console might be dwindling: Because the games live on servers and aren't downloaded, it won't matter what console you need, or what platform the games were developed for. They'll simply work on any TV, PC or Mac.

"When you watch a movie on TV, you don't think about what it was developed for, it just works," Perlman tells me. The same will be said of video games. And players will be able to access the games at a fraction of the cost of today's experience. Says Perlman, "Some consoles cost $300 or $400 or $500. Even more in some cases. So now, instead of spending all that money on a console, they can spend it on the games instead. Doesn't that sound more fun?"

He might have something here. While only a couple of dozen titles will be available when the service officially launches later this year, Perlman easily envisions entire libraries of titles available instantly with a simple click.

The games, their graphics -- no matter how complex -- will go directly to TV or computer through compression technology Perlman and his team have been slaving over for the past seven years. Publishers love the idea because there's virtually no chance of pirating the games on the service they're stored on the company's secure servers.

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65 Replies. 4 pages. Viewing page 1.
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65. Re: OnLive Changing the Game? Apr 3, 2009, 11:16 Nox
 
Time Warner to add download caps to more cities:

http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/mar2009/tc20090331_726397.htm

Just one more reason why this service isn't even close to practical.
 
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64. Re: OnLive Changing the Game? Apr 1, 2009, 10:59 Nox
 
Wow, what got up your ass? Did the OnLive folks kill your dog or something?

Flash is totally incapable of what OnLive is describing here - a technology that they've spent 7+ years building, and have successfully demonstrated in a pretty legitimate test environment at GDC.

Look, there's every reason to be skeptical, especially when real internet latency starts becoming an issue. But why the hell are you so seethingly HATEFUL about this idea?

Because I'm tired of conmen and their technically ignorant minions like yourself who nod their heads and say "give it a chance" when it doesn't have a chance in hell to succeed. Anybody with even a rudimentary knowledge of internet infrastructure would know that this idea isn't even CLOSE to practical. Yet here we are wasting time trying to explain internet basics to stupid fanboys who are easily manipulated by a few smoke and mirror demos.

So yes, I'm seething at the continued ignorance I constantly see around me. Thank you for contributing to the idiocy.
 
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63. Re: OnLive=Game Changer? Mar 28, 2009, 06:27 KilrathiAce
 
Old CD-i and 3do full motion movie interactive games could work with this! rofl  
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"On 2646.215 I myself attacked & destroyed TCS Tiger's Claw in my Jalthi heavy fighter"
Bakhtosh Redclaw Nar Kiranka
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62. Re: OnLive=Game Changer? Mar 27, 2009, 11:56 Dades
 
Most of this argument is made moot by early publications reporting lag, blocky textures and compression artifacts during the most ideal testing conditions they were given. Which is pretty much what everyone expected would happen. If you want to play 640x480 Quake 2 with input lag then be my guest but this thing is just more Phantom buzzword nonsense to me. If anything it's an idea that's far ahead of it's time.  
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61. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 26, 2009, 00:53 Jason
 
Get lost troll. I've probably bought more games than you've ever seen in your fucking life

I did address your repeatedly incorrect points. Where as -all- you've managed in reply is name calling. Which would make you the troll. I'd be interested to see you try some more analysis though, to demonstrate how often you can be wrong again.

Just to demonstrate that even when you resort only to name calling, you still get it wrong... I once owned a Vic 20, (new). I've owned gaming platforms from every generation since.

This comment was edited on Mar 26, 2009, 00:55.
 
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60. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 25, 2009, 17:04 MindStalkerReturned
 
Players won't blip around, because there is NO need for client side prediction. If I was riding on someones BF2 M1 commander seat, I'd find using the machine gun easier on this service than on BF2 as it stands, because the movement packets aren't retransmitted, which multiplies x2 lag spikes when they involve the servers connection.

Whats even more interesting about this is if your playing multiplayer on this system you'll most likely be paired up in games with other OnLive users meaning the multiplayer commonent will feel like LAN (a very fast LAN at that). So there will be no additional lag in multiplayer versus single player.
 
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59. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 25, 2009, 00:22 Creston
 
overall broadband deployment is over 80% of American households today

Uh, yeah right. Not even by the government's standard of broadband (which is 756kb down/256kb up) does the US have 80% broadband. 5Mbps is available at maybe a 20% market penetration, and the large majority of that is based on shared bandwith. Ie, if everyone in your apartment complex started streaming that 5Mbps at the same time, everyone would soon pretty much stall.

The idea that "five years from now we'll all have 10-50 Mbps links is really nice, but the reality is that people in major cities can get it and everyone who lives even 10km outside one is screwed, simply because the cable companies and the telcoms refuse to put pipe down to outlying areas.

ATT's Uverse and their "Fiber to the curb" bullshit is exactly that, bullshit. When I moved to my house in the boonies in 2007, AT&T told me that I'd have fiber to my curb by year's end. It's now 2009 and when I called them a few months ago, they said it would probably never happen. Their idea of Fiber to the curb is where your curb < 50 yards away from where their fiber currently is. Otherwise, you're just shit out of luck.

Whether or not people that have actual broadband available (the 10mbps+ connections) will make up enough users for them to be financially solvable remains to be seen. (ignoring every other problem they have to face.)

I havent seen that data yet, but my guess would definetly be broadband is signing up customers faster than the consoles are selling.

Please. The majority of people in the US are CLAMORING for broadband, only to be told by the cable co's and telcoms to go fuck themselves, because they live too far away. You know which areas are "growing?" The people in inner cities who keep upgrading from the top tier connections to the newer top tier connection. Sure, FIOS has 2 million customers. The large majority of those came from people who already had 10Mbps cable. Once Verizon (I think?) rolls out the 150Mbps line, who will get those connections? The people who already have FIOS and want to/can afford it.

Not to mention that Obama is going to sink $8 billion into upgrading america's broadband

Uh, you're aware what his plans for "broadband" are, right? Once the analog spectrum is sold, he wants 25% of it to remain available for free wi-fi coverage across the US. That's going to be a 512kb down/64kb up connection, most likely, though some reports say it might go as high as 756/256. That will probably only be in the big cities though.
None of it will be usable for this project.

If this service has a good launch, I can also see it enticing more people to consider high speed internet, and I imagine they are partnering with the telcos to encourage exactly that.

The telcos don't give a flying fuck. There is no problem with DEMAND for high speed internet. There is a problem with SUPPLY. And the telcos have no intention of doing anything about the supply problem, because it's not economically feasible for them to do so. (or so they claim anyways.)

AT&T isn't going to say "Holy shit, Steve Perlman has some servers that are streaming the Sims 3, and people want to play it. Let's roll out fiber to the curb so everyone can sign up for Steve's plan!"

Creston

This comment was edited on Mar 25, 2009, 00:23.
 
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58. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 23:59 Creston
 
If you want it to go away, you'll have to suck it up and buy from regular channels instead of pirating everything.

Get lost troll. I've probably bought more games than you've ever seen in your fucking life.

Did you take a wrong turn at slashdot or something?

Creston
 
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57. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 23:50 Jason
 
Remote control play over the internet? Fail. It took current wireless controllers five years to finally come up with a system that has no noticeable lag in the controller, and those things need to transfer data between points that are 2 to 10 feet apart. Now add your ISP, routers, packet prioritizing (raise your hands everyone who thinks it won't happen, and those of you who think that ISPs will prioritize gaming packets. Anyone?), congestion and data caps into the mix.

If I used this service to check any of 20 demo's before the usual process of downloading, then purchase and patch the 5 I liked, I'd quite frankly use -less- data allocation (yes I am on a cap). 400MB of texture and 300MB of model data is only good for me if I actually go to all the places in the game, and see all the textures and models.

Besides the world (and ISPs) are coming to the inevitable relevation that the internet is required to be scaled to full-screen video to every-desktop size. Even backwaters like Australia are seriously planning a post-adsl internet.

You are also mistaking lag issues that affect FIRST PERSON SHOOTERS mostly, and possibly accurately simulated car driving games, with the entire rest of the game market place. WoW/Warhammer/EVE and hundreds of other games would work just fine through this service.


100ms delay is acceptable when you're playing a current online shooter, because they have client side prediction. There won't be any client side prediction, so... huzzah? All of you who are thrilled to see players blipping around the screen again, raise your hands. Still nobody?

The player movements will be rock steady, because there is only 1 in-memory representation of a player object, not 17 like a 16 player game. The only issue will be frame-rate inconsistencies due to transmission, and they will only affect the guy with the shitty connection, not everybody trying to shoot at that fucker, like in current implementations.

Players won't blip around, because there is NO need for client side prediction. If I was riding on someones BF2 M1 commander seat, I'd find using the machine gun easier on this service than on BF2 as it stands, because the movement packets aren't retransmitted, which multiplies x2 lag spikes when they involve the servers connection.


Finally, is this the most draconian form of DRM ever invented? Now you'd be able to buy a game and not even have a physical copy of it installed on your machine? So you'd basically have to pray really fucking hard they never go under, or never lose your account etc?

Piracies efficiency improved with the rise of P2P, its not suprising that lowering the profitability of other channels, makes these very expensive channels feasible.

If you want it to go away, you'll have to suck it up and buy from regular channels instead of pirating everything.

Vaporware and money stealing is what it is

I think you've posted enough drivel in this thread for me to say that you remain rather uninformed.

The actual difficulties these guys will face are

1 - utilisation spiking will cause them to spend a lot more money on hardware than they'd like, that will sit idle until they have hundreds of shipped games live to even it out.

2 - for -stable- games that have low or no connectivity requirements, they will waste a lot of bandwidth (which they probably have to pay half and then pass along to the consumer), which would probably be reflected in a monthly service rental that may make the overall service uneconomic for the number of games they need on the service to keep the hardware utilisation reasonable.
 
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56. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 21:37 Aelith
 
No lag at all is an impossibility in the real world. It's simple physics.

This is true, but even single player games can have plenty of lag - as anyone with the wrong GPU/drivers/LCD etc has experienced. As I described in a previous post, its actually *possible* for them to stream a game to you from their servers with LESS total lag then you running the SAME game on your local console. Simple physics. Their servers can be very fast much faster than your 360 or PS3, and if your ping is low enough to their servers, this can completely compensate or even overcompensate for the network delay.

Just because packets are crossing the network does NOT necessarily mean more total system lag. Especially for a multiplayer game, where the packets have to traverse the network *anyway*.

Also, to point out again, they apparently are doing some form of server side prediction - rendering frames with a little prediction.

This comment was edited on Mar 24, 2009, 21:48.
 
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55. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 21:30 Aelith
 
Well, from what I've heard of some devs who saw it at our office, everyone was surprised with the (lack of) latency - ie, you couldn't tell.

Scalabity is an issue, but its completely controllable by simply limiting how many accounts they sign up regionally to ensure they have enough server load at the time. That part is really quite simple - no rocket science. It seems that you are guys are just fishing for reasons for this to fail.

Which brings me to some legitimate reasons it could fail:

Well, I agree that hardcore PC gamers may hold off on this, until they have some killer Crysis munching game you can only play OnLive, and you can play it at high res with low latency.

But the console market is different - the majority of the games are still 720p at 30fps (1080p just isnt worth it yet), and the controllers and gameplay are suitable for higher total latency, for a variety of reasons.

To me, the immediate wins are console games of all flavors, but especially multiplayer games (where they can offer a much better experience), and of course, MMO's, where there's huge potential.

And BTW, its also available on the PC, and the device has a mouse keyboard compatibility.
 
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54. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 21:21 Aelith
 
Google has massive data centers to be sure, but they don't need <30 ms latency - its just not a design issue. Google is crazy enough that they *are* quite concerned about latency, but just not at the same time scales - they are concerned with getting you back your search results within < 1000ms or so. Their big technical challenge is search CPU latency, not network latency. OnLive has very different technical challenges.

And yes, actually I'm a graphics engineer. I'm not talking about multi-gigabit internet connections - are you inane? - read my post - or read the actual OnLive annoucements:

-1 Mbps for SD resolution (average DSL speed)
-5 Mbps for 720p resolution (typical cable speed)
(presumably - 10-12 Mbps for 1080p resolution - Fios, etc. And no, it doesnt scale linearly with resolution - but this probably uneconomical for their outgoing bandwidth right now, but those prices are dropping - fast)

These numbers are in line with high quality H.264 compression - or maybe a little worse, but their codec has the additional constraint of extremely low latency and low CPU requirements. (However, having access to the rendered frame's depth buffer and potential motion vectors allows large speedup potential, not to mention they probably run the compression parlty on the GPU.) Apparently they have 100 patents on their compression tech, so its not typical off the shelf stuff.

You consider 50 million households with broadband a SMALL market? From broadband reports, current deployment looks like this:

25 million households with cable internet
20 million DSL (which includes some newer high speed, like ATT UVerse)
5 or so million other (including 2 million Verizon Fios - 20-50 Mbps)

overall broadband deployment is over 80% of American households today

Do you know how many 360's + Wii's are in north america? (look it up - < 50 million total) Again, from a market size perspective - the broadband market (DSL + Cable + Next gen) is comparable or *larger* than the console market in size - *today*. Not 5 years, not 15 years - right now.

As to which is growing faster, I havent seen that data yet, but my guess would definetly be broadband is signing up customers faster than the consoles are selling. Not to mention that Obama is going to sink $8 billion into upgrading america's broadband - and its not like the Fed is about to subsidize the PS4 for Sony.

5 years? Things are moving a little faster than that . . .

If this service has a good launch, I can also see it enticing more people to consider high speed internet, and I imagine they are partnering with the telcos to encourage exactly that.

Theres a lot of Ifs here to be sure, such as - are they going to have exclusive content? It would seem hard to compete without at least one killer system seller . ..
 
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53. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 21:01 Cutter
 
From the article....

In other words, a real-world test is something that's still a ways off, but my experience with it was nevertheless impressive. I didn't notice any lag with Burnout whatsoever, and every motion, button push and adjustment I made seemed to happen simultaneously with my hands' movements. Being the HD snob that I am, I was slightly put off by the video signal's washed-out appearance (due to the compression of the image), but it wasn't washed-out to the point of being annoying -- I'm just an elitist when it comes to picture quality and have been spoiled by the plasma-powered pop over the last few years.

So already we know that this is a controlled environment, and we've all seen how they've been utilized over the years to mislead the public. No lag at all is an impossibility in the real world. It's simple physics. And I'd love to see how wahed out it looks - even under this controlled enviornment. Again, does not bode well. Forget wabout where we maybe be in 5 or 10 years. In a century we may have holodecks, but that doesn't change reality today.

I can't guarantee the service will work in the real world, or how it will react to hundreds of thousands of gamers hammering on the servers. OnLive seems confident, but scale could be a major issue. What happens when one million people want to play the same high-end game?

Again, what does reality say will happen? This service how somehow automagically mitigates all those issues does it? Anyone who says it will is selling something, or very, very high.

And it utilizes a console controller. No mouse/keyboard? No thanks. How much per month, how much to rent games on top of that? No, this is a con job.


 
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"The South will boogie again!" - Disco Stu
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52. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 20:07 elefunk
 
Do they have any demonstration? Any actual evidence of this product? That movie analogy they make is silly. Movies aren't interactive. Streaming those works well. Games are interactive, are they saying is that their servers have enough horsepower to run the game and stream the resulting graphics via a broadband connection to the home without lag issues and be controlled by a player without lag issues? I find that extremely hard to believe.
http://pc.ign.com/articles/965/965542p1.html

Demo setup, contrived circumstances, but it was still up and running for real at GDC while connected to remote servers.
 
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51. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 19:55 Overon
 
Do they have any demonstration? Any actual evidence of this product? That movie analogy they make is silly. Movies aren't interactive. Streaming those works well. Games are interactive, are they saying is that their servers have enough horsepower to run the game and stream the resulting graphics via a broadband connection to the home without lag issues and be controlled by a player without lag issues? I find that extremely hard to believe.  
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50. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 18:45 MMORPGHoD
 
It's an interesting idea, but obviously waaay too early to try to implement on a large scale IMO for a number of reasons. Another related issue to consider besides the streaming video is something almost as important, audio. The comments about the audio quality from people trying to use netflix for streaming videos does not bode well for streaming games. Well, unless it's bejeweled.

This comment was edited on Mar 24, 2009, 18:46.
 
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49. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 18:37 toranaga
 
why am I picturing this whole thing as

concept specification,
phantom 2.0:
-------------------
gfx: Glaze3D or Pyramid3D
network: BigFoot Networks' Killer NIC
game service distribution backend: xStream
investors: morons that fulfill criteria 'greed > common sense'
 
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48. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 18:21 NKD
 
More bullshit designed to rob some venture capitalists of their dough.

I can only imagine the low-fi bullshit that most people will be subjected to, or the people with fast connections who blow through their monthly ISP caps in a day of gaming.

Grats, WebTV guy, for another epic failure. US Internet infrastructure is shit for streaming, and no one wants their games to look like they are playing some fucking low end FRAPS video of their game.

Jesus how does anybody get to thinking this is a good idea?
 
Avatar 43041
 
If you don't like where gaming is heading, stop giving your money to the people who are taking it in that direction.
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47. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 18:15 MMORPGHoD
 
Well, good luck to those onlive pioneers. I won't be able to use that any time soon with DSL. Just waiting for the desktop icons to refresh in remote desktop for a computer down the street is lag central. I'll stick with local apps for my gaming. Someday maybe, but not today. And any investor in this tech best do their research...  
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46. Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 18:06 Flatline
 
you can't really compare this latency wise to existing games, they really building data centers direclty connected to ISP backbones and geographically distributed for really low latency connections.

You mean like google? Who has an order of magnitude more data centers distributed, just in the US, and more money than God, and even *they* can't push the kind of performance these people are promising?

You're spewing complete marking hype here. If you really are a game dev, I doubt you're an engineer. You talk like fiber to the curb and multi-gigabit connections are just around the corner for us all, when by your numbers (50 million broadband users out of 111 million homes) 15 years hasn't even brought broadband, which today can be retrofitted to most existing homes for relatively cheap prices, to half the nation. Fiber to the curb is even more expensive to deploy, so honestly you're talking about things that *might* come to pass in 30 years, and not 5.
 
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