Remember the online gaming service we covered a few months ago called OnLive that moves your gaming to the cloud? Well it just got real. In case you missed it, OnLive aims to deliver over the air gaming to users in a similar way to general cloud computing.
Data and games are stored on OnLive servers and the images are beamed to gamers around the world who compete in an online environment. The Beta went up quite a while ago and it seems the waiting is almost at an end for US gamers, as the official OnLive launch date has been announced as 17th June 2010.
For $15 a month users will be able to access the OnLive community, however games themselves will cost that little bit extra which is a given considering developers are still going to want their money’s worth out of their games. However this does raise some concerns with potential gamers.
For example, new services and businesses always have a high risk attached, so what if OnLive goes under? what happens to your ownership of the game? Perhaps people would rather have a physical copy of the game still that they can call their own.
Initially, the service will run on Mac and PC as a browser plugin, but the MicroConsole will be released later in the year if you’d rather have a more authentic console experience with the controller pad and all.
Impressively, the games will be run at 720p with 1080p resolutions to come later as well, with up to 60 fps. They also showed off the games running on platforms such as the iPhone which they say will be implemented, ‘over time’.
At first there will be between 12 and 25 titles including Mass Effect 2, Borderlands, Assassin’s Creed II, Dragon Age Origins, and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. The titles can either be bought or rented from the OnLive service which provides users with the option of long term deals which will be cheaper, or testing a new game perhaps in a more thorough way than possible through downloadable demo’s. The games will be sent to 48 states in the US and the data centers storing the games are ‘strategically placed to avoid lag’.
So the service is now completely official, and it is confirmed to include features such as ‘instant play demos’, ‘multiplayer gaming’ and ‘instant video-based social networking’. There are obviously advantages and disadvantages to any service, particularly ones of this sort.
For example, travelers will no longer need to lug around huge gaming laptops as this service reduces the real need for such high spec computers. So then the questions will be raised by the manufacturers of Alienware machines which are specifically designed for gamers. Will they be left redundant if the service takes off on a global scale? But also, how will this service fare given situations of internet connection issues and high internet traffic, do we even have the infrastructure yet to properly play games using this straming, cloud-based gaming system?
Personally, I feel the prospect of OnLive and its games on demand system is certainly exciting. I can’t wait for it to be brought to the UK (if indeed it will be, we will wait on the success across the pond first) as it means I no longer have to worry about the high cost of my machines as this could be the ultimate form of digital game distribution. I feel that many people will share this view and can honestly see the service being successful, but perhaps not the real future of gaming.