By IDC’s check, chances are (well, only by margin of about 48%) that you know what cloud gaming is, which in the case of OnLive is running a bunch of games in their data center and then broadcasting the video results to your computer or TV through a console. Kelly and I dropped in on the OnLive and Razer joint conference this morning to hear what they had to say about its future.
While OnLive unveiled its service two years ago, the technology behind taking your inputs, transmitting them out to the internet through their data center, then back out as a video image that can be played on most any device took a decade to develop. It’s a marvelous piece of work that OnLive claims they’ve conquered and they now want more people to use the service through new offerings, like a native app on LG TVs. Founder and CEO Steve Perlman went over why people would use the OnLive service over a standard console experience:
- True cross-platform functionality. Steven brought up examples like EVE Online with Dust 514 and the Wipeout games to demonstrate that games were being played between several consoles or between the console and the computer, but these are rare instances, or only for very specific functions, like swapping items. With OnLive, virtually any device that can play video (with roughly the same technical requirement as running Netflix) can play high-end PC games. Steve also demonstrated a new MultiView feature in which you can spectate on three other OnLive players at a time. Again, there’s no extra hardware required on your end as the image is being generated by OnLive. He showed off playing Borderlands 2 with a trio of cooperative partners, then switched one of his panels to a friend playing another game entirely. It was pretty sexy.
- For tablets, touch-specific controls. Last year, Rockstar unveiled a version of L.A. Noire that had some specific icons to aid in play on Android tablets (Steve says that playing games through iPad is “coming soon”, but that Apple is taking their time: they submitted the OnLive iPad app a year ago.
- For publishers, there’s no piracy. Citing an 89% piracy rate on mobiles and a large chunk being removed from the retail equation by both piracy and used gaming. Publishers and OnLive get to share 100% of the bounty between outright game purchases, downloadable content, and regular OnLive subscriptions.
- On top of that, OnLive wants to be great for small developers and free to play games that don’t have the retail or technical support that larger publishers do.