Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rearden Studio's OnLive game service - "What Is It?" and How Will It Revolutionize the Gaming Industry

Today at GDC, Rearden Studios unveiled a new game service and "micro console" called OnLive. In OnLive, you can virtually play PS3/360 quality games on any PC/Mac and SD/HDTV via the internet with no video lag.

"How is this special?"

In reality, this concept is just video streaming from a server with very low latency (video lag), down to the milisecond. Then the you can control the game with the OnLive's controller or even use your mouse and keyboard. The hardware requirements are minimal. This means you don't have to dish out for better video cards or other components. In the GDC '09 Rearden Booth, you can see Crysis playing smoothly on a regular Macbook . To play with your Mac or PC, all you need to do is subscribe to the service and then you are set. Rearden will come out with a "microconsole" with bluetooth (for mics and controlers) so you can play their games on your SD/HD TV (via HDMI and SD probably via composite adapter Pricing is not yet available for the microconsole, but it is expected to be lower than the Wii's retail value, or below $250.

All OnLive platforms will feature the OnLive interface. It is intuitive and easy to use. Joystiq says "... browsing games is like a vertical version of Apple's Cover Flow...Gaming on your Mac or PC will only require you to download a browser plugin that's less than a megabyte in size."

(Shown Above:The OnLIve microconsole)

In order to play, you need at least a 1.5 Mbps connection to play SD Wii quality games. To play HD games, you need a broadband connection of at least 4-5 Mbps. You will still need a broadband connection with the MicroConsole.

Of course, with gaming comes online multiplayer. There are leaderboards, stats, ranks, etc and "brag rolls". Brag rolls are a recording of the last 10 seconds of a gameplay where you can show off and other stuff of that nature. There can also be mass spectating and instant playable game demos.

You can expect this to be very successful. At launch you can see many game titles because of the many game companies and studios that are already on board. Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, THQ, Epic Games, Eidos, Atari Interactive and Codemasters have already joined in. Expect game launches and release dates to be on par with their console/PC counterparts.

OnLive is expected to launch this Winter with monthly subscriptions available in "a variety of different pricing packages and tiers, competitively priced to retail." OnLive subscription-based service's price will likely be comparable to Xbox Live.

It is also worth noting that this piece of gaming tech may out live the current generation of consoles. Gamedaily.com writes:

"Ultimately, if OnLive is the "transformative" technology that Rearden believes it will be, then the traditional console cycle can be thrown out the window... possibly for good. Perlman called the console cycle a "nightmare for publishers," and while the current Xbox 360/PS3/Wii generation may last longer than previous ones, there's no question that the massive costs inherent in launching a new platform have been detrimental to Microsoft and Sony (Nintendo's hardware has always been profitable). Moreover, on the publisher side, Perlman points out that companies often have to make a bet three years out on which console will lead in market share. This only adds further risk to the publishing equation. After all, who really envisioned the Wii taking the industry by storm the way it did? Publishers were left scrambling as a result."

This can be profitable and positive for everyone which is what everyone wants these days. Only time will tell if this will work. Only one things for sure, I'm definitely paying for this.

Read more at: