If you’ve been following the news, you’ll have heard that OnLive is currently suffering. Whether it’s dead, or alive, or semi-conscious and dwelling half-beaten in a ditch somewhere remains to be seen, but whatever comes of its future we’ve witnessed the first casualty of a hazy and unsure cloud gaming movement.
For those not in the know, and presumably that’s a fair few of you considering the shape of things, OnLive is a service that has strived to bring top-spec PC gaming to the masses. Their aim was to do this via a mainframe of servers which, essentially, stream footage of the game you’re playing to your screen. So, you log-in to their service, connect to the game of your choice, and then, over your internet connection, footage of you playing a game on their servers is streamed to you. This is Netflix, only you’re streaming a huge, fully interactive video game, rather than episodes of VR Troopers that you only watch for ten minutes because the novelty quickly wears off.
It’s a lovely ideal, high-spec video games for all, food for the starving children, adult versions of those awesome roller-skate shoes that kids wear, but sometimes these things don’t play out according to plan. Sometimes things go a bit Rapture, and you’re left curb-stomping splicers. In OnLive’s case, the dream was far grander than the execution, and playing games with an oddly Youtubeish video blur and pixelation problems didn’t quite grab gamers. Its most severe frailities surfaced when users attempted to play competitive titles like Street Fighter 4, those exercising their talents with any level of precision soon found that there was a noticeable lag between the button press on your joypad and the reception of it at OnLive HQ, making beat ‘em ups, sports games, and even titles with a heavy reliance on QT events, borderline unplayable.
There’s no real doubt that the future of gaming lies in the proper execution of an idea like OnLive’s, but unfortunately it has had to be a martyr for companies further down the line to learn and take note. It seems major movements need these sacrifices, Sega’s Dreamcast being perhaps the most infamous of all. Introducing so many fantastic ideas but not quite hitting the mark in practice, allowing companies like Microsoft and Sony to perform their autopsies and Frankenstein their own, much smarter monsters. There’s a future for something like OnLive, but likely not OnLive itself.
Lou Chou (Word-type-guy at GamingBS.com)