Thursday, March 26, 2009

My thoughts on OnLive

The recent announcement of OnLive ( has caused quite the stir in the gaming community. I figured I'd offer what thoughts I have on the subject.

For those of you who are not new to the gaming scene, you may recall a console named the Phantom. This console was designed to be able to play any PC game past, present, and future via a download service that would elimate the need to upgrade the console. While it was an interesting and certainly revolutionary idea, it tanked. The console was never actually released.

Now please understand, I am well aware of the fact that OnLive is different from Phantom in some significant ways. I only mean to point out that this is a furthering of the same concept as the Phantom. OnLive promises any game on any platform, not just the PC. That alone makes it very different.

I find a couple of problems with this. First, on the practical side of things, motion sensing is becoming increasing intergrated into games, and I have yet to see a computer capable of reading such input outside of a webcam. This is something that will need to be dealt with if Wii games(and possibly 360 games with the announcement of the Freedom controller) are going to be put on the service.

The larger problem I see is this: some are heralding this as something that will forever change gaming into a utopia where you'll never again need to buy a console, and you can play any game you want as long as you have a computer with Internet. Here's the thing though....if this works...if it takes off like you honestly think that another company won't start one of their own? After all, the American economy is based on competition. So if this works and is shown to be very profitable, it's only natural to assume that another company (or two) will try and get in on the market. They'll start competiting to get exclusive rights to service certain developer's games...and then guess what. We're back to where we started, only it looks a little different. Instead of shelling out a few hundred every few years for your console, you'll shell it out over the course of those years, and still have a limited selection of games. "You want to play Call of Duty 7? Well we have it right here! want God of War 4? Oooo...that's on another gaming service, we don't have the rights to it."

It may seem cynical, but I think it's a likely outcome of all this. But who knows, I'm just a guy that plays games. Maybe it will be a gaming utopia...but I doubt it.


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