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Old 07-05-2010, 09:33 AM
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London Dave London Dave is offline
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Default OnLive: the future of "PC" gaming or a pipe dream?

What does everyone make of OnLive? It is supposedly online now (in beta at least). I got this email from them earlier today:

Quote:
Hello from OnLive,

Don't miss your chance for a FREE 1-year OnLive membership, and 30% off all game rentals and purchases!

We're still accepting sign-ups for the OnLive Founding Members Program, presented by AT&T, to get your 1st year of membership to the OnLive Game Service completely FREE*! Sign up to reserve your spot today at http://www.onlive.com/signup/.

The OnLive Game Service is the fastest way to get the hottest games you want to play. And this weekend we're having our first weekend sale extravaganza, where we're offering 30% off all rental and purchase prices for our entire library of games to current OnLive members**. No downloads, no waiting in line, no trips to the mall. OnLive lets you Just Play the hottest titles from our publishing partners including Ubisoft, 2K, Eidos, Warner Brothers, and many more.

Don't miss the next opportunity to get in on these great deals. We're only accepting sign-ups for a limited time for the Founding Members Program, so act now!

Hope to see you soon!

The OnLive Team
Being from the UK I don't have a prayer of getting into the "Founding Members Program" despite the false ZIP code I provided six or more months ago, Austin TX I believe

Future or flop?
  #2  
Old 07-05-2010, 10:56 AM
Marach Marach is offline
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if you sit down and do the math there is no way they can pull this off over a given amount of members it's a niche program and i expect in a year or so it will change over to something like gamefly or metaboli
  #3  
Old 07-05-2010, 11:26 AM
Mika Mika is offline
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Im a big believer. At current speeds, image quality may not be top notch due to the compression artifacts, but the video's ive seen look pretty sweet and better than what most gamers will achieve with their hardware anyway. Moreover, if you think ahead, the current 2Mbit bandwidth is pretty low ( I just got a 50 Mbit connection) especially if you put these servers where they belong: at your provider.

latency doesnt have to be a problem either then, if onlive (or was it otoy) can really compress at sub 1ms latency per megapixel, as they claim. Roundtrip network latency to my provider is just 8ms (and eg google is at 15ms roundtrip from me). Thats faster than many screens and faster than the refresh rate at 60 Hz/FPS.

This is where its headed IMO. No more piracy, no more platform dependency. No more uber expensive hardware that gets outdated faster than french cheese.

Last edited by Mika; 07-05-2010 at 11:30 AM.
  #4  
Old 07-05-2010, 11:43 AM
Mika Mika is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marach View Post
if you sit down and do the math there is no way they can pull this off over a given amount of members it's a niche program and i expect in a year or so it will change over to something like gamefly or metaboli
Well do the math for me then?

As I see it today gamers spend 100's of euro's on hardware each year that they use maybe 5% of the time and when they use it, they often use only a fraction of its capabilities, or do you really max out on RAM and all 4 or 6 cores while playing WoW? It simply makes sense to pool these resources together in a datacenter and pay-as-you-go.

It makes even more sense for game developers to support this. They can target a single hardware or API platform, have zero chance of seeing piracy, they can reach audiences they could never reach before (no gaming PC, no console, linux/OSX/android/ipad/ whatever users. Not too mention, the TV crowd!) .

Lastly, it makes perfect sense for ISPs to offer such services and provides them with a wealth of new business opportunities and models.

This will work. If not Otoy or Onlive, then someone else will make it work. Google, Microsoft, your provider. Whoever.

Last edited by Mika; 07-05-2010 at 11:47 AM.
  #5  
Old 07-05-2010, 11:46 AM
Marach Marach is offline
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yes i can see it now the whole world covered in fibre just to feed onlive!! It's a good idea in some ways but the bandwidth etc requirements limit its growth add in the cost of servers and renting space with your ISP etc and costs start to spiral after a certain point
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Old 07-05-2010, 11:56 AM
Mika Mika is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marach View Post
yes i can see it now the whole world covered in fibre just to feed onlive!!
No, you will have DSL, cable or fiber for your digital tv anyway. What difference does it make in bandwidth for your provider if they stream a HD tv show or Arma2 ?

Bandwidth usage may be high, but its very local. From your house to your provider, bandwidth rarely is a problem.

Quote:
It's a good idea in some ways but the bandwidth etc requirements limit its growth add in the cost of servers and renting space with your ISP etc and costs start to spiral after a certain point
It wont be free, but neither is a game PC and keeping it up to date. By comparison streaming games will likely be dirt cheap, especially for gamers that dont play 12hr per day.
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Old 07-05-2010, 12:30 PM
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I've written pages about this before, so I'm going to summarise in bullet points my main feelings, and anyone who thinks OnLive has a future can argue otherwise and I'll respond to them directly in full.

- Graphics issues - 720p compressed video is just not as good as standard PC gaming
- Latency is high
- Streaming that video consumes vast amounts of bandwidth which you're going to have to pay your ISP for
- Costs for non-"Founding Members" will be high. $10-$15 a month as a base plus full price for the games, unless someone has a link showing otherwise. New hardware is much cheaper.
- You have no physical copy of the game, hence you can't apply mods, are at risk of the servers being shut down (e.g. temporarily outages; bankruptcy) and the ability to play and have your data is removed when you stop paying the subscription.
- Llano, Ontario and Sandy Bridge will make almost all new PCs able to play games.
- Most gaming is done on consoles. PC gaming is not an expanding market, and emphasis on 'core' gaming has shifted to the consoles in the last few years. Graphical quality in PC games has stagnated since 2007 because of rising development costs, so hardware demands will not rise fast in future anyway.
- What happens when a title comes out that isn't on OnLive, or has features that aren't supported by it? Do you wait in vain for it to appear, or just buy the right graphics card and a retail copy and move on?
- If it suceeds, the streaming market will fragment into tens of competing services, OnLive being one, competing for 'exclusives' and making no single streaming platform able to fulfill everything. Will it be so attractive then?
- The biggest, most successful, most profitable video gaming company on the planet, Nintendo, will never adopt this technology as their strategy has always been tight game hardware-software integration and huge first-party resources. Even if OnLive is a phenomenon beyond expectation it will capture no more than 40% of the console market (360+PS3+PSP) plus PCs.

Last edited by Game_boy; 07-05-2010 at 12:32 PM.
  #8  
Old 07-05-2010, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mika View Post
No more uber expensive hardware that gets outdated faster than french cheese.
The thing is, French cheese never gets outdated, it only becomes better.

The real question will be what the final monthly fee will be, because at for example $15,-, one can as well maintain a reasonable priced budget-gaming pc that can keep you running for 2 years. If you need a pc at home anyways and keep the $350,- per 2 years for gaming-parts, you can even maintain a good gaming pc.

Add to that the prices of games, being the same as when you buy the actual game in the shop, but than with the downside that you can't play it anymore after a few years, things look not that great.

So far I don't see much of cost-killing and only added variables the customer can't control.
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  #9  
Old 07-05-2010, 02:04 PM
toughluck toughluck is offline
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Currently, as OnLive is only slowly coming online, the expected frame rate is around 20/s. That's already low and imagine what happens when more users join and want to play -- bandwidth goes down, latency goes up, lousy experience for everyone. Latency might not matter much, even in deathmatches, assuming all players are on the same OL server -- everybody has the same potential latency and everyone is equally affected by the server. However, as soon as someone conceives a way to use OL to connect to other services (or vice versa), people with dedicated hardware will definitely be at an advantage.
720p is low, graphics settings are not set to highest, and the content is delivered compressed. I know how it is to work on a thin client and believe me I wouldn't like to game on one. One show-stopper already: pretty much every new computer has enough muscle to run games at OL settings or better at OL framerate or better. More than that, with dedicated hardware, you can set the game resolution to the optimal screen setting, something impossible with OL (who has a 720p monitor, anyway?).
Some games on OL cost as much as in retail. But you can't download them (at least not from OL) and you can't play them if your connection to OL is down. I'll take the retail box copy over some virtual right any time. What happens if you cancel or suspend your subscription? What if you lose access to purchased games on rejoin? That never happens with hard copies (exception: brain-dead copy protection schemes).
You can't upgrade your hardware and take advantage of the possibility to set the preferences to higher quality -- note that OnLive does not sell their offer to some isolated market. People have friends and those friends just might have the hardware to run Crysis on 1080p with highest gfx preferences. Now, you've got OnLive, you purchased the game, and you could spend the money spent at OL to buy a PC and the retail copy -- won't that sting?

There's a myriad ways in which OL stinks and is a step back rather than forward. People will vote with their wallets and I expect OL to go under in a year or two.
  #10  
Old 07-05-2010, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toughluck View Post
People will vote with their wallets and I expect OL to go under in a year or two.
I can't imagine the scale of the capital investment (hardware, engineers, marketing) that OL have had to get already. They've been doing nothing but talk about it for two years with no income until this week. When those investors see the membership falling well short of the projections I guess they'll just pull out rather than wait years to see if it improves.

That'll leave a lot of people with games they've paid for and can't play.
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