Holy bloody f-ing hell. I have seen the future of gaming. Who says nothing interesting happened at GDC? Screw flying cars, to hell with space exploration, given today’s news I’ll never want to go outside again.
Thanks to seven years of research and hard work, the good folks at OnLive have MacGyver’d this very inexpensive laptop I’m typing on as… well, I type, into a tricked out rig capable of running Crysis, or any other game you can throw at it, at the highest settings. How you ask? Surely nothing short of the black arts can make such a dream possible.
Actually, it’s simpler than you think and quite ingenious to say the least. Rather than you running the game on your own hardware and using your own hard drive space for the install, they run the game for you and send it back to your screen. Looks like Logan can finally run Puzzle Quest Galactrix and not have to rage quit out of any more podcasts.
The service is more than just a convenient workaround to constantly upgrading graphics cards. There is a wide range of planned community features for the service. Chief amongst these will be spectating. Provided the user has spectating on, you can check out anyone playing ANY game, regardless of if you have purchased the game or not. What better way to appease that on-the-fence- potential purchase than to actually go in and watch the game in action? This also has the potential to actually make the quality of these games better. Publishers can use the spectating feature during open beta tests to see what is working and what needs work. Speaking of publishers, OnLive already has support from companies like Electronic Arts, UbiSoft, THQ, Atari and others. There are also first party and indy games in the works. Other community features will include the “brag clip” that will save the last 15 seconds of game play in a recording, and integrated voice-over IP.
Not all is peaches and cream however. Potential problems can already be spotted. First, the service will only be as good as your broadband connection. A 5k connection promises uninterrupted Hi-Res gaming goodness, while a 1.5k will get you standard resolution. Anything less and the service is not for you. Also, every game on the service will be ported over from either a PC, 360, or PS3 version. While it should not be a problem for publishers, especially in relation to PC games, history has shown that you can’t always trust publishers to make a faithful port.
OnLive is scheduled to release in Winter of this year, with a beta sometime in the summer. Pricing has not been nailed down but will include a subscription fee as well as an additional charge for the optional “mini-console” that would allow you to hook the service up to your tv.
It remains to be seen how well this will be received by the gaming public, but this is shaping up to be a great alternative to buying that new overpriced ATI or NVidia card.