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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Re: OnLive a Game Changer?
Mar 24, 2009, 21:21
54.
Re: OnLive a Game Changer? Mar 24, 2009, 21:21
Mar 24, 2009, 21:21
 
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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     Re: OnLive a Game Changer?
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