OnLive: The Future of Gaming or Technological Disaster?
The OnLive Company first proposed their plan to provide cloud-based gaming service to the public at the E3 conference, June 2009. To many of the enthusiasts at the conference, it seemed that an On-Demand service for video games was only natural, given that movies and music have already adopted cloud distribution. As Microsoft and Nintendo premiered their new resource-hungry consoles, OnLive demoed Crysis, a graphics intensive videogame, on an iPhone. The crowd was astonished by the games low-latency, and quality. CEO Steve Perlman also points out “we can deliver anything” through the cloud, including design applications, movies, and other forms of multimedia. OnLives idea to deploy the innovative service has not gone without criticism; many people are skeptical of their business plan and believe it to be impractical.
In prospect, the OnLive service will revolutionize the gaming industry. After using the service for only a few minutes, I mused that gaming consoles would never again dominate the market. Along with games, OnLive’s interface is also a social network. It allows users to interact and share information, such as "Brag Clips" which are user-selected 10 second clips of memorable moments in their gameplay. Perhaps most importantly OnLive can be played through nearly every new device with an Internet connection, including iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. Currently on pre-order is OnLive’s “MicroConsole", a cigarette package-sized device that can connect to OnLive to a Television. Even the old IBM computer that has been sitting in your garage for years can run the newest games through OnLive. Whereas in the past gamers were forced to purchase the new Sony Playstation, or Xbox to run the latest games, OnLive gives anyone instant access to the same games through a variety of devices. If a user pauses a game on their home computer, they can easily resume it later on a laptop or cell phone. Customers pay a low monthly subscription fee to OnLive, and never need to upgrade their devices to play the newest games.
OnLive has been made possible by a form of client-server virtualization commonly called "Cloud Computing". Cloud computing consists of two main components: a client and a cloud. In OnLive’s service, the client is a user with a laptop similar device, while the cloud is one of OnLives “datacenters”: a facility that houses thousands of servers that operate together. A user accesses OnLive’s cloud through the Internet. While the client is connected the service, OnLive’s datacenters stream a real-time video recording of the user interface and games to the client. As result, the game that a viewer plays on OnLive is processed as far as 1000 miles away (Perlman, “Demo”) and displayed on a TV, or “dumb terminal” (Larry Ellison’s) as an interactive video.
By processing the games in the cloud, OnLive’s service eliminates the need for a user to buy an expensive,...