RPS Asks: Cloud Gaming = PC Gaming?

By Alec Meer on June 22nd, 2011 at 9:08 pm.

My god, it's full of videoclips

Pay attention, students – here’s your homework for today. Cloud gaming services such as OnLive and Gaikai: discuss. They’re on the rise, and approaching the point where they’re not just a fascinating gimmick but a viable way of playing high-end games at reasonable graphical quality. But what do they mean for PC gaming? Indeed, can they be considered PC gaming? And most of all – how seriously should we, and you, be taking them?

Cloud gaming, if you’ve not managed to keep up with the streaming Joneses, is a system whereby the game you’re playing is actually running on a high-spec PC somewhere on the other side of the world (or ideally much closer), and streamed to your monitor/TV/tablet/whatever as essentially a high-resolution video that reflects the keys or buttons you push. So, if you load up Dead Space 2 and press fire on your keyboard, a command is sent to a remote machine that then renders the action and effects thereof, and as close as possible to instantly transmits the resulting image back to your PC via the internet.

Is it magic? Yes. Probably. Don’t ask me, I just press the buttons and watch stuff happen.

Is it something that is actually happening and possible today? Also yes. With the proviso that it doesn’t look anywhere near as good as a locally-running game even in the most ideal circumstances (those being not just your ISP, but pretty much every piece of cable and exchange between your computer and wherever the remote server is), and in the rather less than ideal circumstances most of us actually have, you simply can’t avoid a loss of detail and a bit of lag. In theory, this can be improved both as the average web connection increases in speed and as canny optimisations and smoke and mirrors are found to compensate for the delays and the fidelity hit.

Prices also need to improve – OnLive’s quite happy to charge what pretty much amounts to full retail price at the moment, but on the other hand it does have an increasingly up to the minute selection of games. It’s been quite back catalogue heavy for a while, but now the likes of Duke Nukem Forever are up there. Most games can be played for free for half an hour too – so right now you could go try out FEAR 3, for instance, even though it doesn’t have a demo anywhere else. That kind of thing could be an enormous way of driving sales – and potentially torpedoing a game’s success, if a quick play of the opening section suggests it’s a stinker. (So if this really did take off, I can imagine publishers/developers making games with this in mind – making the first half hour astonishingly good at the possible expense of the later stages).

In some instances, the pricing ain’t bad – for instance, you could ‘rent’ FEAR 3 for three days for $5, which would be time enough to complete the singleplayer quite happily. Of course, you wouldn’t own anything at the end of that time – question is how important that is, in this age of constant new releases, constantly getting distracted by the next big game?

The most important thing, of course, is the the tech itself, which is working surprisingly well. My first experiences with OnLive when it first launched didn’t exactly fill me with hope – a tiny, muddy window and a whole lot of lag. Yesterday, however, I was playing Metro 2033 at a reasonable resolution and looking… well, nowhere near as sharp as if I ran it locally, but not at all bad. Not bad at all. There was still an element of lag which made things feel a bit dreamlike, but I reckon it’s tolerable for more casual play. If you’ve not tried it for a while, I really do recommend it. And Gaikai too, which uses similar technology but with a very different end in mind. While OnLive’s plan is to have you essentially rent entire games, Gaikai’s current shtick is offer game publishers a way to present potential customers with instant demos – so renting out their servers and streaming tech to third parties for promotional purposes. No downloading 3GB of code (and, mildly troublingly for such as I, no need to read some journo’s write-up of a preview event) – instead click a button on a webpage and you get a playable chunk of the game there and then. Followed by, of course, an option to buy a copy of the full game via a partner retailer or download service. It’s clever bloody stuff for sure.

Deep in the RPS dungeon, we’ve had some discussion amongst the ol’Hivemind as to a) whether or not this is PC gaming b) either way, should we cover it here and c) what does it imply for the PC as a gaming platform in the years to come, if it does hit big?

My take on it right now is that, despite options to play OnLive on an iPad or with a special ‘microconsole’ that connects directly to a TV and a gamepad, it’s very much a PC thing. For one, it’s running the games on a PC somewhere. For a second, the cheapest, most readily-available means of accessing it is a PC. Any PC, so long as it’s online. The hardware in that PC is more or less academic, which is bad news for the processor and graphics cards industries but good news for anyone who wants to play high-end PC games without having to upgrade any time soon.

For the console companies, even the concept of this stuff must be absolutely terrifying. Who would want to drop £200-300 on a big ugly box to stick underneath their telly, and one into which they had to pick up new plastic discs all the damned time, when they could just hit a button on either a PC or a gamepad that talked directly to their internet-enabled TV and start playing any game right there and then?

For the PC… well, it’s a bit different. If these games are being played on high-end PCs somewhere, should these services and concepts become successful that rather suggests there’ll be lots of games being made that take advantage of high-end hardware. I.e. a PC. Why not make these games directly as well as remotely available to PC owners – especially given, as with today’s status quo you’ll get the best possible visuals, customisation and whatnot on PC, so there’s a good chance this of all platforms has the best chance of continuing to thrive alongside OnLives and Gaikais. We’re a long way off a streaming video really being able to rival the visual quality of a high-res PC game – while it might be almost possible for the richest of the richest, the road to getting the majority of internet connections suitably high speed is a ludicrously long one.

The flipside concern is that even a PC becomes an unnecessary part of the chain, if tablets and phones finally stumble across a way to have decent controls, if internet-enabled TVs bundled with console-like gamepads become big, or even just if Xbox 4 or PlayStation 5 elect to become nothing more than a tiny plastic box streaming cloud games into an HDMI port. Click’n'play is going to be a lot more appealing than waiting two hours for Steam to download it, then finding your graphics card isn’t up to it or you’ve run out of hard drive space. Or more appealing than loading an MMO and finding there’s a 1.5GB patch to download and then the file’s corrupted and aaargh. The PC is the home of complexity and often that’s a good thing – but a little more ease of access wouldn’t be a bad thing. How the PC adapts to cloud gaming is going to be just as fascinating as how the console-makers adapt: because the thing about cloud gaming is that, in theory, it works on any platform and any hardware. A screen, an internet connection and some manner of controller are all it really needs.

Contrary to all that again is stuff like modding, indie games and (almost) lag-free multiplayer. The PC, the most unbound and adaptable gaming platform there is, can only remain king there. Cloud gaming cannot beat it on that front, even if it manages to marginalise it on others.

And that’s before you get into the issue of not really owning anything – just renting access to something played somewhere else, and relying on the fact that the service doesn’t fold, games aren’t cynically switched off in favour of sequels, and someone like Lulzsec doesn’t decide to knock all the servers offline for an hour, a day, a week, a month. Cloud gaming’s an amazing concept – but it’s also a bit sunshine and daisies, based on the presumption that everything will be A-Okay, Every Day. The events of the last month or two do seem to suggest that we’d be pretty foolish to be 100 per cent reliant on remote services for our digital entertainment. They don’t, however, mean that the games and technology industry is going to lose interest in the cloud as a platform. This is only going to grow, I’m sure of it.

Again, don’t mistake for me for being hysterical about this – while OnLive and Gaikai’s offering has improved significantly over the last year, I’m quite sure we’re many years away from the point where it could become anything like the norm for gaming. But it is on the rise, it is improving and we should take it seriously – both as a new gaming platform and as the next step in the PC’s fascinating, ever-changing, ever technology-defining history.

So expect a little bit more coverage of Cloud Gaming to appear on RPS in the not-too-distant. Question is – should we make it regular? Over to you.

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168 Comments »

  1. Tonamel says:

    I’m subscribed to the OnLive Playpack, and it’s basically Netflix Streaming for games. I love it for that, but I would never make a regular purchase, because I like being able to play games offline.

    • SpinalJack says:

      Exactly this, people rent games and videos all the time, now you can do it without having to pop into block busters or the post box and all you need to do to play a game at your friend’s house is to remember your login details.

    • Delusibeta says:

      I would agree with the comparison. I can see Metaboli going bust due to OnLive (or at least scrapping their rental service), but I can’t see any of the other major digital distributors following suit.
      OnLive is excellent as a rental service, if your connection is up for the job. Would I pay for a permanent license to a game? No. But I would consider the pack once I get a better connection/router. Gaikai is also an excellent idea, and I think has the most potential, due to the fact that it’s not tied to a client and just needs Flash and Java.

    • MattM says:

      Online game rentals are a different matter than the online remote gaming. Steam already does free weekends so it wouldn’t surprise me if regular digital distribution services start offering rentals soon.

    • Premium User Badge lurkalisk says:

      I never thought of how cloudiness might benefit game rental, but that actually sounds like a good idea. Purchases, on the other hand, simply cannot become cloud-based, lest the medium devolve into a EA wet dream (no products, only services, and total control on the wrong side).

    • Baboonanza says:

      Reply fail :(

  2. MiniMatt says:

    Suspect we need to see better bandwidth and more realistic monthly bandwidth caps before it becomes widespread in the UK? Staggering proportion of UK are at around 2mb which is going to struggle with hi-def streaming I’d guess.

    Personally I’m not keen on the model but that might be my inner luddite and general suspicion of publisher’s motives.

    • PickyBugger says:

      Struggle with high def streaming, I think you mean struggle to play any online game if another person in the house wishes to do anything more than open their emails.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Normal online gaming can do clever things to compensate for lag, since it is running a full-blooded client, and all the rendering, locally. Even in the case where every other player is teleporting around randomly, at least your own movements will be reponsive. (And for cases short of random teleporting, it can do a lot of guesswork and pretending to maintain the illusion that everything is fine really.)

      This is literally impossible with a VNC-with-a-silly-name model like OnLive. As is ever getting rid of that extra lag this side of us suddenly discovering that physics are broken. In which case I think we’ll all be a bit distracted with running from Cthulhu to play games.

    • Premium User Badge Carra says:

      Here in Belgium our lines are very fast.

      But at the cost of 30-50 gb limits. So no, I’ll pass on these live streaming as long as we have limits.

    • James says:

      @Carra
      I haven’t read all of the comments yet, but from what I’ve seen already you bring up the best argument against the adoption of cloud-gaming on a large scale; Many people have bandwidth limits.

      I’m curious about what kind of bandwidth these services currently require, and if that requirement will increase as the fidelity improves. My assumption is that many people with limits on their bandwidth will avoid these services by default, though there will probably still be members of that group that attempt renting/demoing games in the cloud.

      Edit: http://perilsofparallel.blogspot.com/2010/07/onlive-follow-up-bandwidth-and-cost.html

      3 gigs in one hour is going to be prohibitive for a large group of people. Maybe it has improved since the above was written, but I can’t see how it would be drastically improved at all, given the nature of what’s taking place.

    • Creeping Death says:

      “Staggering proportion of UK are at around 2mb ”

      I think you need to lower your estimation alot here. I’m living in London and my max speed is 2mb. I’ve lived in 4 different places in as many years around London and this is the fastest connection I’ve had so far.

      Back at my parents home in N. Ireland, their max speed is still a 512kb line. That’s 50kb/s download speeds -.-

      So as for cloud gaming becoming a mainstream thing, I would say it’s still quite a few years away from that yet.

    • Premium User Badge Carra says:

      Onlive has now got an agreement with one of our two meaningful ISPs, Belgacom.

      I assume that these services will not count towards the monthly bandwidth limit. But what about competitors like Gaikai? I cannot see the ISP giving them the same, free limits. And what about those who are with a different ISP?

    • Dirtyboy says:

      I played the OnLive beta with a 40 down/12 up fiber connection on west coast US and there was noticeable input lag and the graphics quality would fluctuate quite a bit. Just Cause 2 there were many instances it was impossible to time jumps/grapples.

    • JFS says:

      And I always thought my 2 mbit connection was somewhat aged. Now it seems like I’m ahead of the game. I mean, even the ads at my bus stop make fun of me… what has happened that bandwidth distribution is so unequal throughout Europe?

    • MiniMatt says:

      Interesting stats at http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/telecoms-research/bbspeeds2011/response-to-asa.pdf

      (page 5) Shows that 12.6m of the 18.8m fixed non-commercial broadband lines in the UK are advertised as “up to 8mb” (1.2m of those as 2mb or under).

      (page 7) Shows that the mean speed achieved on an advertised “up to 8mb” DSL is 42% of 8mb – or 3.3mb. And that mean speed achieved on an advertised “up to 20mb/24mb” DSL is 29% – which would be 5.8mb / 6.9mb.

    • Warth0g says:

      Yes precisely. I’ve just upgraded my broadband to BT Infinity which gives me 37mb – but it’s still caped at 40GB download a month so not sure that something like this would be feasible…

    • Brutal Deluxe says:

      My main issue with this whole system is a purely technical one. The bandwidth of HDMI is around 5-10 Gbps (sustained). For the average broadband it’s 10-20 Mbps (peak). Under ideal conditions, that’s a compression rate of 500:1 (note that HDMI is already compressed). Is the compression technology advanced enough that I won’t notice (or care about) the difference?

  3. djbriandamage says:

    Streaming cloud gaming like OnLive is cross-platform, not PC. It’s like Flash or Java or web; designed to be consumed equally well on disparate devices.

    That being said, if it’s on PC then it’s good for us! More competition means more innovation.

    There’s still a ways to go though. OnLive is a marvel of engineering and is glorious to behold, but the relatively low resolution and the half-second input lag are unpalatable for me. Still, it’s very innovative and lots of fun to watch other people play in real time.

    This concept will become more prevalent, and will dominate entirely, in the next several years. Ownership is done. Renting is the future.

    • Evil Timmy says:

      consumed equally well poorly. FTFY.

      Their strength is also their weakness; it’s like console vs PC optimization but even more extreme. If you expect your program or script to run on absolutely everything without refactoring or at least recompiling, it’s going to be performance-tuned for absolutely nothing. If this was launching in South Korea, I could definitely see this as a compelling service: broadband penetration is exceptionally high due to a condensed population and government subsidies, and users frequently pay for “renting” games at LAN cafes. In the US, Europe, Australia, and anywhere that has a spread-out population and/or bandwidth caps, it’s currently not practical, and for your ISPs sake, God forbid it becomes popular. It’d be “OMG Netflix eats all the bandwidth” by a factor of at least two.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Make no mistake, streaming IS the future of digital content. We will buy subscriptions from Sony and Microsoft instead of consoles. OnLive will be bought by one of these, I’m sure, or maybe even Google.

      We’ll still have some “on-premeses” gaming in various forms but the cloud will be the prevalent mechanism. There’s no stopping it. Poof goes piracy. Poof goes the used market. Poof goes minimum system requirements. Dedicated servers, modding, cheats and trainers, who knows.

      Is it worthwhile to give up ownership for the privilege of playing Crysis on your abacus? Our generation will say no. Our kids will say yes.

    • James says:

      @djbriandamage

      What’s it like? The future, I mean. I’m assuming you’ve actually been there in the flesh, as otherwise it would make your position of certainty quite laughable. I know you’re not the kind of person who would boldly state an opinion as absolute fact, so I await your description of the many marvels I have to look forward to.

    • Premium User Badge Wisq says:

      Piracy will not go “poof” any time soon. In fact, if we’re being forced to use all these new cloud services, I don’t see it going anywhere but up.

      The whole problem with DRM is that you’re trying to get a product to the user’s hardware without the user being able to intercept it or use it in unauthorised ways. Obviously, this is a lot easier on “trusted” platforms like consoles rather than the wild and wooly world of PCs, but that just ups the ante to buffer overflows, rootkits, and hardware mods.

      It becomes easier if you never deliver the software to a platform that the user controls, like only delivering it to OnLive and never to customers. But it only takes one insider to leak that out to the world these days. And even (or especially) if OnLive uses custom console-like hardware and games are only written to that platform, you can bet people will be trying to make it at home or write software to emulate it.

      OnLive is the closest we can come to eliminating piracy, because the interactivity is gone by the time it hits your screen — it’s just a realtime reaction to your actions, not code to also generate reactions to thousands of pirates’ actions. But it’s still not likely to eliminate piracy, ever.

    • ChromeBallz says:

      @djbriandamage

      The cloud does not let me backup any data (because if it did the cloud would be pointless), there is no guarantee my data will be safe or even kept for as long as i want it to be, my data is in the hands of people i have never met and any attack on anyone in the cloud will mean everyone connected is affected.

      Add to that the ownership issue, no modification is possible and you’re tied to being connected to the internet which all on it’s own is a host to massive problems all the time (remember, it’s not just the cloud service you become dependant on, but also your ISP and by extension everyone in your street because of how adsl/cable works) and it’s a matter of whether you want to risk investing in something you’ll never own and where you’re dependant on a host of other companies and external circumstances for it to work, keep working and stay working for more than a few years…

      Not to mention that Intel/AMD/Nvidia aren’t going to be happy about their consumer market being killed off, and by extension of cloud gaming the demand for new hardware will drop dramatically by consumer OR developers, creating an even bigger dip for the companies. If cloud services would ever become dominant i’d bet that 2 out of those 3 companies would be close to going bankrupt if they aren’t already, something they would in all probability not want to let happen.

      So what happens now is that PC hardware becomes cheaper to a point where people can either look at short term or long term benefits of their data storage/ownership/execution and make a choice which is based on a timeframe of less than a year, maybe 2 (IE: a new cutting edge PC will cost as much as a 1/2 year subscription to any cloud service).

      The most important thing to take into consideration here is that while the cloud gives to the people (easy access almost anywhere), it also takes away (ownership of your purchases, customizability and reliability, making you dependant on 3rd parties).

      Many people seem to be making their decision based on an extremely short term perspective. There’s a lot of disadvantages to the cloud many people prefer to ignore, though i guess that’s their choice. In any case, the cloud will never completely kill off local platforms, even if it’s just because of paranoia, unless the country you live in outlaws local platforms entirely for whatever deluded reason – In which case there’d still be private local platforms around anyway simply because they’re not allowed.

      Think of this aswell: On a cloud service, everything is digital. The hosting company can change anything they want and you cannot do anything about it. Want to keep your savegames for more than a week? Gotta pay. Want to keep your *games* for more than a week? Gotta pay. You bought a game, no you didn’t, there is no sign of you buying that particular game anywhere in their system, you bought another one instead as clearly indicated by the digital (!) receipt.

      Oh yes, that will happen. The cloud will make people utterly complacent at a certain point and hosting companies can very easily exploit this. In the end of the day, they all want to make money, but whereas local platforms can be customized at your heart’s desire in both software and hardware, you have practically 0 jurisdiction about anything you buy or rent online/digitally only.

      Hence i should mention that platforms like Steam are actually quite dangerous aswell in that regard, though that’s a matter for another day.

    • Premium User Badge Devan says:

      Yeah, while I do recognize that there are situations where cloud gaming (or other services like Google OS) might be well-suited, I will not support these systems because of the severe implications on privacy, ownership, security, reliability, and other concerns as explained well by ChromeBallz above. There’s nothing wrong with the availability of more options for people who need them, but considering the lucrative possibilities of turning an entire computer into a service there’s no way that these models could become successful without significantly shifting the industry in a way that is undesired by the rest of us.
      For that reason, I hope to see enough people who value keeping their computing capabilities under their own ownership that the industry never makes that shift.

    • djbriandamage says:

      I agree with pretty much everything you guys say (except James – for you I’ll make a special clarification that my words before, after, and including this sentence are all my opinion).

      I really do think I’ll be proven correct in my predictions. Steam was the first major step where we descended from “software licensees” to “subscribers”. Unlike boxed copies, if you lose your Steam account you lose all your purchases. In that respect the only difference between Steam and OnLive is that you can install Steam games to your hard drive.

      I’m not saying I’m in favour of doing everything in the cloud. I’m not even in favour of OnLive for anything but demos. I don’t see myself ever buying anything on OnLive. But I said the same thing about Steam and now I have around 200 games on there.

      I also stand by my claim that streaming will end piracy. Games will be designed to run on servers and output to IP instead of local video and sound cards, and to hundreds of tenents instead of just one user. Sure it can be emulated or duplicated but I doubt it will be as easy as loading a Mappy Land ROM into MAME.

      So let it be written; so let it be done. So spake some internet DJ.

    • Baboonanza says:

      There is world of difference between Steam, where you buy the games and are free to play them in perpetuity (even offline after they’ve been installed) and a subscription based service where failure to pay your subscription or lack of an internet connection means you can’t play any game at all.
      One is like buying a house, the other like renting a house. It’s pretty clear to me which one is the better investment.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Baboonanza, if you ever read one EULA it should be Steam’s. That document makes it patently clear that you are a “Subscriber” and not an owner. You pay Steam for the privilege of subscribing to their service. You own nothing on that list.

      Technically this is true of all software. You are a licensee, not an owner. That’s why copyright law is so tricky when it comes to software.

      Do read the Steam EULA, or at least the first few paragraphs where they tell you the rights and limitations of being a Steam subscriber.

    • MiniTrue says:

      EULAs are not legally binding in practice here in Europe, though. In America (or “corporaterapeofcommonfolkland”), they most certainly are, but software companies’ attempts to enforce EULAs as legally binding contracts have invariably been unsuccessful over here. Games companies would like it to be the case that you merely purchase a license. However, in the real world, you are purchasing an optical disc with data burned to it, which can then be installed and played on a PC. Rather amusingly, even a steam game can be downloaded via steam and then subsequently have Steam cracked off it. You can debate the legality of it all you like, but a British or European court would never, in practice, uphold the right of a software publisher to revoke a licensee’s licence based SOLELY upon a violation of the EULA, assuming they can provide proof of purchase of course.

      tl;dr: In Europe, if you pay for a game, publishers have no legal power to revoke your right to play it that any court in the land would uphold. The reason? Because such a law would be simply unenforceable. Trust me, I’ve been studying consumer rights laws for three years now, no publisher would dare enter the minefield of European EULA law.

      EDIT: Quick clarification, I am not suggesting that the EULA is worthless, but assuming the user legally purchased a piece of software and has proof of said purchase, European courts would not allow for their licence to be revoked for merely (as an example) cracking the software, in practice. At least, this has never happened yet to my knowledge here in the UK, or as far as I know in the EU. Of course, if the user’s intention was what is rather nebulously defined as “malicious”, or if actual circumvention of payment was involved, then that is a TOTALLY different matter.

  4. Javier-de-Ass says:

    steam = pc gaming? it’s a platform and game subscription service aping all its features from xbox 360 and doing all it can to make porting games from the hd console twins to pc as easy and painless as possible for the big publishers. it’s also serving up actual pc games, but its bread and butter is steamworks drm packaged console ports.

    • deanbmmv says:

      Stream not Steam :P

    • Wowza says:

      In other news, this block button is really starting to become useful.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Never mind that Steam was around for 2 years before the 360 came out.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      @ Jason Moyer

      Stop dipping your little “facts” into other people’s crazy rants. Jerk.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      facts like steam community update in 2007, steamworks in 2008? if valve could have gone completely onlive with steam at the time they obviously would have, and it’s really no surprise to hear they are going to support onlive itself with their games. every single feature in steam is made to take control away from the gamer and give it to valve and publishers.

    • Warth0g says:

      Paranoid much? Rather, every single feature in Steam is designed to make money for Valve and its publishers by giving their customers what they want and are willing to pay for.

  5. DrGonzo says:

    Onlive is a very interesting concept. Having played a bit of Arkham Asylum on my netbook I was quite impressed.

    Here’s a link to Carmack on Onlive http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-21539_7-20069887-10391702.html

  6. Drake Sigar says:

    This is sorcery, and I for one will not be party to it.

  7. noom says:

    As somebody that absolutely cannot stomach playing any game with even a smidgen of mouse lag, I can’t see myself ever going for this. I remain massively impressed with the idea and the technology, and who knows, maybe this will prove to be where things go, but for now, no.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Yeah. No matter how good the “technology” gets, it’s still limited by the laws of physics (ie, the speed of light). I can tell you from experience with guitar software that more than about 20ms of latency is noticeably laggy. It doesn’t feel properly responsive.

      Typical ping from a consumer ISP to a few hops outside the ISP (eg, Google) is what, 20-30ms at best? For OnLive to work well, they need servers literally everywhere.

    • Premium User Badge The Sombrero Kid says:

      ehh it’s not limited by the laws of physics, light travels at 3000 km in a millisecond (roughly 1/10th of the way round the earth), the lag on the internet is from electrical & optical signal processing and switching

      EDIT: as Starky says it’s 300 not 3000 – bad napkin maths, so light could travel around the earth in 100ms not 10ms.

    • pepper says:

      Which is limited by physics, atleast for the current production methods/materials.

      So yes, until we found a better way for that its physics that is blocking us.

    • Starky says:

      No, it isn’t limited by “physics”, it is limited by current technology. Well to be more exact the COST of current technology.

      Though light only travels at 300 km per millisecond (not 3000 as mentioned above) that is still bloody fast
      Yes mechanically switches might impose a hard limit, but advances in optical and digital switching are already reaching switching speeds measured in nano seconds.
      With speeds reaching upwards of 100 gigabits per second per port/switch exist for high end data centres/cloud systems.

      So the best we could manage for say a 500 mile round trip is 4ms travel time, maybe 6-7 ms switching time at the backbones. Assuming you had a fibre connection at your house.

      Obviously right now that number is closer to 40-50ms in most countries (except maybe Sweden or Japan who have crazy good internet), because a lot of the internet infrastructure is pretty piss poor, and over saturated.

      So give it 10 years time most anyone on the internet will probably only have 10-15ms of latency between them and the cloud this would be running on.

      Which is less latency than your monitor/TV adds to your games.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      I think it’s rather our current knowledge of physics or inability to engineer it. Like with time travel.

  8. Bobsy says:

    I definately don’t like it. The lack of mod support, need to pay persistent fees for the privilege, the dependence on other people’s technology to provide an uninterrupted and lag-free service… while I cannot fault the intentions on cloud gaming, the proposed reality leaves me unsettled.

    Brrr. Change, eh?

    • Gar says:

      Yea, lag issues aside, the inability to mod, move around saves, use trainers etc etc really kills the appeal for me. I suppose the “instant demos” thing sounds kind of nice, but the point Alec raised about the developers/publishers possibly exploiting this by ensuring the first 30 minutes of their game gets much more attention than the rest is worth noting.

    • mkultra says:

      So basically you couldn’t mod or fiddle with the games, you’re saying. Just like the majority of new releases today.

    • Premium User Badge Wisq says:

      Show me a single PC game today that can’t be modded or fiddled with, and I’ll show you me downloading a mod or trainer for that title, or macroing it (via software and hardware), or just memory-hacking it myself like I usually do.

  9. googoogjoob says:

    i have a strong instinctive distrust of anything that doesn’t let me actually own my games
    cloud gaming is a logical endpoint of drm, and of games being treated as subscription-based services vs packaged goods
    i want to own my games, and be able to play them when i want to, without having to pay for that right
    this is, of course, totally apart from all the technical issues- having to rely on someone else’s hardware, having to rely on your connection which is just another company you are forced to trust, input lag, servers going down etc
    if you have a problem with a game you have installed on your pc you can work to solve it right away
    if you’re playing a game being streamed to you from a little box several hundred miles away and there’s a problem, you just have to sit around and wait for them to do something about it
    i dunno some of these issues may seem frivolous but they all combine to put me off of cloud gaming (and cloud computing in general)

  10. Vinraith says:

    It’s 100% unbreakable online-all-the-time DRM, I fully expect the industry to embrace it with open arms. It’s also the death of mods, the death of tweaking, the death of any sort of user control at all outside of the in-game options screen. Your games are playable only at the discretion of the provider, your save games are maintained only at the discretion of the provider, your $50 buys you nothing more than the right to play a game if the provider feels like it, welcome to the glorious future of gaming.

    I trust many indies will soldier on with the ownership model, but I expect services like Onlive will, eventually, effectively be the death of AAA PC gaming. It’s the most efficient means imaginable for the publishers to close an open platform.

    • Eightball says:

      Only if we let it happen. We’ll have to simply support indies who keep the faith.

      Who knows, we may all end up better for it, if it forces developers to pick a side.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      @Vinrath I have to agree

      @Eightball just as people took a stand on not paying for map packs that used to be free or all the other DLC shenanigans?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Gotta agree. Gamers are a spineless lot.

      But, frankly, “AAA gaming” is really not that great a loss.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Eightball

      I wish I shared your optimism.

      Gamers pretty much never take a stand on anything, hence the never ending bastardry creep in the industry. The industry knows it can just take away a few consumer rights, wait for the bitching to die down, let everyone acclimate, take away some more consumer rights, rinse and repeat. It hasn’t stopped yet, I don’t see much sign that it’s going to do so before we reach the logical terminus of it, and that logical terminus looks a lot like Onlive.

    • LionsPhil says:

      If you really want to depress yourself, you can project the same path forward for all software environments, given the (slow) rise of the app store. ChromeOS can be considered a rough parallel to OnLive since its purpose is to turn your powerful personal computer into a thin-client system from the ’70s but with more graphics and via the pile of kludges which is the web.

    • Farewell says:

      This is essentially the ultimate DRM. If the biggest publishers started making cloud-exclusive titles (all sequels of existing IP of course) and keep on spending over ten times more resources on advertising than development, it could easily not only take over the role currently held by gaming consoles, but reach a even wider audience.
      As a result, games would be come even more “accessible” and “cinematic” than they are today.

      To me, that future does not look very bright.

    • Bhazor says:

      I’m not so convinced about publishers releasing “Cloud only” games.It would be too expensive running tens of thousands of simultaneous copies of a game on in house servers. If they used a third party they’d be giving far too much control to these third parties, just arranging the licensing would be a nightmare (pay per copy run? Pay per user? A flat fee? Percentage of sales? Pay per server space used?) and it seems far less secure than the old disc protection they have on consoles now.

    • DrGonzo says:

      This isn’t meant to replace PC gaming as far as I can tell. But allow low spec users a choice, and also of course replacing consoles.

      Also, as far as I’m aware there is no reason mod support couldn’t be added. A partnership with Moddb or someone could be great.

  11. deanbmmv says:

    I would very much agree that Cloud gaming is PC gaming. As you said they’re PC versions of a game running on a PC, just in someone else’s house.

    It has many of the benefits of console gaming, the ease of use, plug n play process, so I can see it maybe luring in console gamers there. Then it has the bonus that as it’s a PC title it should be quite easy to sell on to those of us that have the high end gaming rigs and want to tweak it and also own it. I think a good element is these systems are very scalable, so you could have really high end games running. Which would solve the complaints on some people that games have stalled technologically due to consoles. Maybe.

    I don’t think that streaming will completely take over. It could become big, but I think there’s still a part of the gaming populace who would prefer to have control and ownership in the same way people still buy LPs despite the iTunes elephant in the room. So I think “local copies” will still be sold even if most people are on streaming consoles.

    Out of the two I favour Gaikai the most. I think that could go far. If you’re going to have adverts all over a site, and advert that lets me demo the game instead of showing me your pre-rendered scenes is much better. I’m kind of amazed RPS haven’t signed up as a Gaikai affiliate yet. I’d say it would make me come here more often, but I’d come here regardless :D

    • tuacker says:

      It won’t necessarily be easy to get the game running on your rig at home. I suspect the servers will have a very specific set of hardware which allows developers to optimize their games for it, every other hardware config won’t even be bothered with and it probably just won’t work on your PC.

  12. Duckee says:

    If this is the future I dare not think of the day the internet breaks down and I dont have a hard drive full of games to play. (Ignoring the silly games that require Internet connections)

    No, I think I prefer to have my games on the old hard drive and system.

    That point aside, how does this business structure mix with publishers? From what I have heard, companies that have other cloud software solutions only pay for 1 license per customer, which can be reused on a new customer should the old customer unsubscribe.

    • abremms says:

      good call on that. at least with Steam I can play offline if the intertubes get clogged.

    • Premium User Badge Wisq says:

      It would also mean the death of gaming on airplanes, say, or indeed anywhere outside your home where bandwidth is not readily available and uncongested.

      It would mean that playing some games at your less-internet-endowed friend’s house might cost him a lot of bandwidth-bucks.

      And what of the hardware cost? You have to have enough gaming platforms to cover _peak_ load at any given time. That means there’s a time in the evening (of your local country/continent, since latency means this does need to be locally-operated) that requires you to pretty much have one high-spec PC per “hardcore” (every-day) gamer. You’ll either have to charge enough to cover that (at which point the “hardcore” gamer is better off owning a gaming rig) or just hope you get a ton more “light” users who collectively share machines while paying for the required peak capacity.

      No, I’m seeing OnLive as a possible solution for those who don’t want to build themselves a gaming rig, not as the future of gaming.

  13. Cheebahh says:

    I never even got close to a HD image with OnLive, so I probably won’t use it. However I don’t like the industry heading this way, call me old fashioned but I prefer having a nice box and physical copy. Blizzard showed it can still be done nicely with StarCraft II. If it all moves to the cloud we hand ALL power over to the publishers/corporate suits and submit to any price hikes or DLC debacles in the future.

    This is a scary trend that most industries are heading towards, take away our things so we just lease services. Reality will start to break down for a lot of people when this happens.

  14. Silverel says:

    This is a new segment of gaming, and surely is not PC nor Console gaming. It’s some sort of unholy bastardization of the two. Surely some sort of exchange of souls has transpired here. I cannot abide.

  15. Turin Turambar says:

    Technically, it’s still not up there. It will need 10 years more of bandwidth upgrades for a decent video quality. And what about the lag. You can’t reduce the lag, there are physical limits about that, so forget fast action or racing or fighting games.

  16. Tei says:

    I looks like a system good to play demos, and not much less…

    • Bhazor says:

      For me the issue is this.
      Computer technology and bandwidth are both increasing rapidly and in parallel but we’re arguably reaching the peak of computer game technology. Games are already incredibly expensive to produce and the gain from one generation to the next is diminishing. The fact we’re falling into gimmicks (3D tv, motion control, whatever they get the kinect to do next) is a sure sign we’re butting against limits and treading water.
      The point being in 5 years when connections are fast enough and stable enough for cloud gaming then the cheapest hardware will be capable of running it on it’s own. I mean if you’ve got the hardware for a 16+ inch screen on your laptop then why would you not already have a graphics card with it?
      An interesting idea. But I think it’s time has passed.

    • Urthman says:

      Exactly. If we’re reaching the end if the graphics upgrade cycle, then the hardware to run the best-looking games locally will be dirt cheap, and running the games locally is *always* going to look and play better than running them remotely.

      Cloud computing makes no sense because local storage and local processing power is getting cheaper so much faster than bandwidth.

  17. abremms says:

    My biggest concern if this goes widespread is the death of modding. I know not every PC gamer gets into mods, but for me thats kinda Why I Do It. I don’t see modding happening on the cloud.

    beyond that, if they can make the technological magic happen to fix the issues with lag and fidelity, then provide the service at a reasonable price (full price for a AAA game is alright if lag and fidelity are fixed, but as it stands now… meh) then I might be willing to commit to one of these services. until then, or untill my GPU is outdated and I can’t afford an upgrade, I’ll stick with Steam.

  18. zeekthegeek says:

    No moddability = not PC gaming. Full stop

  19. Theory says:

    I would play forgettable un-moddable blockbusters (COD, Battlefield SP, the new Alice game) on these services. But I would always want my own copy of anything that I value.

    • Bhazor says:

      They’ll take my boxed copy of Planescape when they pry it from my cold dead hands.

    • ChromeBallz says:

      @Bhazor

      And my 3 copies of Baldur’s Gate 2. :>

  20. tuacker says:

    Obviously cloud gaming is a very interesting technology and by the looks of it everything is pushing in this direction. I don’t mind not owning (singleplayer) games as I play most only once so streaming them to me at a lower cost is quite an entertaining thought. It’s still going to be a long time until games look as crisp as a native install and even longer until they feel as responsive. But I can’t judge that until I get a chance to try it
    That said, I see PC gaming as being able to mess around with the games I play to my liking. Change gravity, no-clip, mods, you name it. This all will probably be lost with cloud gaming. What I can and can’t do with the game is limited by the provider of the service, developers or both. Superman mod or more hooks in Just Cause 2 are so much fun, nothing like several planes dancing around a tree.
    I’m just not sure what will happen to gaming if there is no simple way for people to use a given game and make their own with it and provide it to everyone. Think about how many popular games spawned from mods or as simple as a modified gameplay mechanic from one game. A chance of losing this makes me feel sad.

  21. Zeewolf says:

    No, they’re not PC-gaming and they’re a genuine threat to the PC as an open gaming platform.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Naw.

      It’s not a binary, “either or” question. Cloud gaming has its place, local gaming has its place, and they’re both going to have a place in the future. It’s not going to kill PC gaming as we know it.

      I can see it doing really well on the next generation of consoles though, and maybe even replacing at least one of the major consoles in the generation after next.

      As codecs get more efficient and bandwidth becomes cheaper, streaming services like these will even start to look pretty damn good, too.

    • Premium User Badge The Sombrero Kid says:

      He didn’t say it would kill it he said it was a threat.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I don’t think it’s a threat to the openness of the platform at all.

      It’s much more of a threat to console makers than anyone, because it frankly doesn’t do and CAN’T do a lot of the things most PC gamers want. No one is going to be able to come in and force it on us from the top down, I think history has shown that with PC games.

      Video-stream gaming is for the gamer who wants to game on their laptop, the gamer who likes the service as a supplement to what they already have, or the casual PC gamer who likes the convenience of it. If anything, it’s just filling in some glaring cracks we’ve had in the market for a long, long time.

    • Finster says:

      The cloud is the opposite of the personal computer. It is anti-PC. The cloud model wants you to have a dumb terminal on your desk that has no computing power of its own. The cloud wants to go back to the old days, where if you wanted to run a program you had to beg to get some computing cycles on the mainframe.

      The cloud is dangerous. The cloud is about taking control away from you.

      The more we support the cloud, the more successful the cloud becomes, the less need people have for their own computer, so the less people will buy them and the more expensive personal computers become. The success of the cloud is the death of the personal computer. If you believe in the PC, you must resist the cloud. This is war.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Well, this conversation just got really ridiculous really fast. :/

  22. Ertard says:

    I tried the Red Faction demo on OnLive.

    It kinda looked like a Youtube playthrough of the demo, although almost controllable. It looked like absolute complete shit, we’re talking PS2 resolution on everything here. It wasn’t even 60 FPS. The lag was bad and would never work for an online title, but it was sort of fine for smashing stuff to bits I guess. I would never ever pay for that level of quality however – there’s a reason why I have a big, powerful, computator under my desk. If I wanted a similar kind of experience I’d have a plastic box underneath my TV instead.

  23. Robin says:

    I am going to do a proper writeup on this at some point, but in short:
    Cloud gaming is being approached in a very naive way as a cure-all solution, in a very similar way to FMV when CD-ROM drives started to enter the mainstream.
    There will be some games where running a game remotely, horfing down bandwidth while suffering unavoidable limitations in responsiveness and image quality will be fine. I expect consoles and internet televisions will offer a load of games of this kind, aimed at the casual audience.
    Solutions that hybridise cloud gaming (or do everything locally as today) will be more appropriate in the majority of cases. Being tethered to a fat internet connection is not guaranteed when most of the devices we use are portable. Hardware power will continue to grow (and more sophisticated control interfaces will continue to proliferate), all at a commodity cost – there is no advantage to not running things locally that are integral to the game experience.
    Onlive based their business model on the now historical ideas that people would keep upgrading their GPUs every 18 months, and that another two console generations would have passed with PS2-like dominance of a technically cutting edge system each time. Beyond the fact that they (presumably) hold some key patents, I think they’re an irrelevance in 2-3 years. (The increasingly insane and desperate proclamations of their CEO Steve Perlman make me suspect that we won’t even have to wait as long as that.) They’re a ‘Wireplay’ in a world that’s about to adopt the internet.
    The best case scenario for PC gamers would be for a paranoid, consumer-hostile publisher (i.e. Ubisoft) to jump on board and make one of their key games a cloud gaming exclusive, and get burnt so catastrophically badly that the technology has to rebuild goodwill with publishers, based on realistic, actual advantages that it offers and when the majority of users’ connections are sufficiently high bandwith, over several years, instead of being able to ride on the wave of investor-driven hype it has at present.

    Edit: Also, I think there is a serious logical flaw with the idea of allowing publishers to continue to make short, non-replayable, style over substance games and simply putting them on a streaming service instead of the ailing retail trade-in-after-a-week channel. The solution to people getting bored of being fucked over by AAA is not to try to entrap them and fuck harder.

    • Robin says:

      P.S. Please note, that at some point below in the comment thread, this story will be picked up by OnLive’s totally grassroots and definitely non-agenda-driven forum community, and reasoned discussion will become impossible, drowned out by anecdotes about people with amazing fibre connections in their homes, but strangely only a $300 netbook to connect to the internet with.

    • belger0g says:

      Yeah, this makes sense. When hardware is so cheap, all publishers have to do is provide a seamless distribution service, they just have to make it easy to buy and download stuff.

      But in general I’m very much opposed to this kind of services. Nice technology considerations aside, I don’t like having all my stuff in the hands of someone else. I like to physically have my own data near me and do my own computing, thank you very much. Even Steam is a bit too much controlled for me, but use it because it’s convenient and because of the Steam sales.

      Ideally everyone would follow GoG’s model. No DRM, no need to be connected to play (or no need to connect once to go offline like in Steam): just buy the game, get it digitally and that’s it, you have it on your computer. No need for “services”. Of course, that’s unlikely to happen.

      As others have said, this is catastrophic for mods and tweaking in general, and those are central parts of PC gaming.

  24. Jimbo says:

    It takes your Personal Computer and effectively turns it into a console. It’s the antithesis of PC gaming.

  25. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    With net neutrality dying a slow death on both sides of the Atlantic I would imagine that we’ll see ISP exclusivity and stuff like that. Much as with Comcast buying NBC so as to control Hulu we’ll likely see eash ISP try and set up their own cloud gaming service and vying for exclusive rights to games, for at least a period of time, to try and make people join their service.

    Expect rival services to get much less bandwidth in such a scenario.

  26. Surgeon says:

    I think it would be eminently more viable if you could buy any game, and then upload it to your area on their server. So you just install your games on ‘the cloud’, and then play them from whatever device you want.

    I’m not too interested at the moment though, although to be fair, I haven’t tried it out yet.

    I’m loving the streaming service from Love Film, but it’s a backwards step as far as quality goes.
    I think of this in the same way, so it may be fine for some games.

    Anyone got any ideas what level loading times are like?
    Is it comparable to SSD for instance?

  27. Premium User Badge The Sombrero Kid says:

    Personally, Onlive is the opposite of the pc in all the ways I care about. I care about the freedom of consumers and the freedom of developers that the PC enables, I care about the technological progress that direct ownership and modularity induce, I care about the empowerment that local processing allows for, these are the things that define me as a PC Gamer and they’re the reasons that for me Cloud Processing in any sense but specifically games is not an acceptable trade off and is certainly not a PERSONAL Computer.

    That aside, i have to reiterate here as always when the subject of cloud processing is brought up, that the internet has has centralised data since it’s inception, because there is an economy of scale with data, there hasn’t been and will not be in the short to medium term future an economy of scale with data processing, this is why the internet has never tried to centralise processing & make no mistake this might be exclusive to gaming just now but these ideas have been and will be tried by all sorts of processing intensive industries and at least while the cheapest mainframe is a bunch of GPU’s which is our medium term future, they will all fail to provide a healthy economic case (that isn’t the same as failing commercially).

    i.e. that’s a long way of saying that Onlive is at a very heavy disadvantage vs. personal computing and is only likely to succeed with the backing of a very economically healthy industry like say advertising.

  28. Pijama says:

    I honestly do not like the idea of not having a “physical” copy – no matter they say, you are only renting the game.

    This has a few economic implications, but the most important is that companies get full control over what content is available to you. Modding is a no-go, and you lose (in part) the ability to regulate demand – for example, you want to play a niche game X, and everyone else wants to play “Call of Duty X – Call Harder Mars Edition”. Sorry, your experience will probably be awful, and they are going to probably make a “premium subscription service” ad just for you so that you CAN PLAY YOUR DAMN GAME.

  29. Pointless Puppies says:

    I don’t think OnLive will ever truly replace traditional gaming for a variety of reasons, but I personally find it and services like it fitting very nicely into a renting or “streaming” service, much like the PlayPack feature or Gaikai’s emphasis on demoing rather than selling.

    I suppose it’s why I’m bewildered at so many people’s rage over these services. If anything, treat it like a rental. You don’t get to own those games and play them forever do you? I’d understand the complete dismissal of the idea if permanent sales were the ONLY thing offered on OnLive, but to me the value of the service stems mostly from the demoing and renting made easier.

  30. Bobsy says:

    Honestly though, I don’t think PCs or consoles should consider cloud gaming that big a threat. TV and DVD co-exist happily (along with cinema); radio and CDs and mp3s continue to survive, as do live concerts. Cloud gaming might take a bite out of the market, but I don’t see it being able to swallow the whole thing.

  31. Hoaxfish says:

    I’m joining the “No, it’s not” crowd. If anything it’s a new 3rd type, “cloud gaming” or something. Hell, they’re selling it as something you can play on a PC, consoles, special “thin-console” hardware, tablets, smartphones, etc… which is not something you can nail down as PC gaming.

    If this is a question of “coverage” for a PC-only website, then it falls into the same definition as Flash gaming, etc. Only if it’s particularly note-worthy.

  32. Haversack says:

    As of now it is a threat to PC gaming in its current form and business model, but if the technology ever arises that allows Client and Server to coexist/share processing a la “folding at home” style, we may see us PC master race giving process sharing for cash to the cloud/game service. I wouldn’t mind that at all.

    On-Live, as it stands currently, is annoying since they give you an instance of a PC on a virtual machine and don’t allow you to choose/ pay more for more processing or better stats. It makes no sense to me why they don’t have different packages.

    It also scares me to think of a game population like WoW switching to streaming only. Netflix (while I enjoy its use) is a huge internet hog, something like 21% of all internet traffic if I remember right.

    On the other hand an MMO based on cloud tech could be really interesting, as far as possible persistent dynamic world kind of stuff goes, since you wouldn’t have to worry about sending or pre-loading assets on the client machine and you are just piping the client streaming video with some control listening you could do some crazy world editing type stuff. Minecraft on steroids with tons of players(Tech/Network willing).

  33. Serious J says:

    Considering that most of the western world’s ISP’s are implementing bandwidth caps which is already affecting video streaming services: no, I don’t think we should take it seriously. However, it will have the opportunity to find success in markets that don’t have a broadband mindset straight out of a forced-obsolescence nightmare, such as Sweden, Korea etc…

    And personally: I’m angry enough about our increasing low levels of control over our purchases as consumers as it is. I want to own things I pay for, not just have the right of access as long as the company chooses. These services provide nothing that I don’t already have access to, with better ownership and accessibility.

    I think it’s a great tech, and it’s rather intriguing. But it’s not for me.

  34. wazups2x says:

    I hate Onlive because of the terrible INPUT LAG. And there’s no avoiding it, there will always be a delay on the internet.

    Other reasons I dislike OnLive:
    - Low quality do to extreme compression.
    - No mods
    - No editing game configs
    - No editing game period.
    - Required internet connection to play
    - Need to be close to a server and have a great internet
    - It’s not guaranteed that you can play YOUR games after 3 years of being released.
    - You don’t actually own your games.

    Onlive is NOT PC gaming.

  35. golden_worm says:

    I’ve had an idea! We could put a bunch of these cloud services in a cabinet and a bunch of cabinets in a room and make it so people have to put money in every time they want to have a go. Kind of like fruit machines but with proper computer games. Wadayafink?

  36. Qwentle says:

    The main problem is that even with a datacenter in every major city, you’d still have a small amount of lag regardless of connection speed, purely due to distance from server. While games can specifically design around that (see the Wii in particular for examples of building unavoidable lag into gameplay mechanics), most PC-centric games tend to be based around fast responses (even slow paced games need to be able to respond quickly as pointer control suffers worse than most from lag).

    For that reason I don’t think streaming gaming will ever get a major hand-held beyond specifically designed titles (though the demo thing is quite cool, you may come away with a bad feeling about the games).

  37. Synchrony says:

    I imagine Google is watching onlive very carefully given this would be a huge boost to its entirely cloud based chrome os. As internet connections get faster and faster, and mobile broadband gets better coverage and a huge speed boost with the 4G roll out ahead I’d imagine this would really take off with someone like Google’s weight behind it

  38. Mr Monotone says:

    Personally, I’m conflicted on the whole concept. On the one hand, it solves what for me is the biggest issue for getting in to PC gaming for most people which is the upfront cost. Being a poor (for a given value of poor, I’m not on the poverty line by any stretch) uni student, when my pc died last year I didn’t really have anywhere near enough money to replace it. Realistically I’m not going to have enough money to do so for at least another year or so. That means my gaming is reduced to my laptop and 360. The idea of being able to play games with a keyboard and mouse again, as well as in genres other than shooter is very attractive

    On the other hand there are a huge number of problems that have already been mentioned. Requiring a clean network connection, lack of modability and being at the whim of the publishers are all things that won’t change no matter how good the technology gets. Then of course Indies would have difficulty getting on those platforms. Thinking of that future for PC gaming, I might rather wait another two years to be able to really get back in to it before seeing that level of choice stripped away.

  39. Om says:

    Nope. Call me old fashioned but I like to play my games on my machine

  40. edit says:

    Surely cloud gaming is the future of non PC gaming. The point of having a powerful computer is for it to do the computing, right? Computing power gets cheaper all the time. Why stream data from elsewhere that your computer could produce itself, adding input lag in the process? When lag is less of a problem cheap consoles could be a cool place for streaming. Others in certain situations or certain systems may also benefit, sure. I’d like to keep running programs on my PC though.

  41. El_MUERkO says:

    I have zero interest in cloud gaming and that will never change.

  42. Snargelfargen says:

    Arrgh

  43. Snargelfargen says:

    Onlive and similiar programs will be a success IF publishers start generating content that targets the platform (Streaming content should really be considered a seperate platform, especially now that netbooks and to a lesser degree, tablets are in so many households). I can see episodic content being a big success. I would gladly spend 20$ or whatever on 5 hour AAA game that was good and didn’t need downloading. Indie games would benefit a lot from this as well.
    Most of the games I currently play, really shine because of their depth, replayability or moddability. This kind of game will be Not Much Fun on a streaming platform.

    RPS’ audience isn’t going to want to use onlive for the most part. My buddy who only has a netbook and a 360 on the other hand, thinks it is a great idea.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Onlive eventually partners with a hardware company to make a handheld device for their service.

  44. CaspianRoach says:

    I live in the middle of Russia so it’s not my party I’m afraid. For this service to become totally awesome and widespread we need to seriously pump the computer connectivity technologies up. Because playing First Person Shooter with 100ms delay is like sticking needles under your fingernails or playing it with a joystick.

  45. StingingVelvet says:

    As long as this co-exists with full retail or downloaded games I have no issue with it. Actually I can see it being a great boon to PC gaming, as more attention and effort would go into PC versions due to this new player-base. A future where you play a game on your couch with a console but it’s actually a PC version I can buy and play locally on my PC is a future I absolutely am fine with.

    That said, the fear is that cloud gaming will REPLACE today’s gaming standards, which I would fine completely unacceptable. Even if they manage to get perfect 1080p uncompressed images across with no lag what-so-ever I would still not want to buy games for that service because you would own nothing. DRM attempts to make me own nothing but it is completely ineffective at doing so. OnLive is very effective, or rather would be with an exclusive.

    So… equal measure excitement and dread, really.

  46. vodka and cookies says:

    It’s an aspect of PC gaming for sure just like The Sims or Facebook games and other stuff which gets ignored by the stereotypical hardcore gamer.

    But so is the iPad, with iOS5 breaking it’s tether to iTunes the iPad is a PC in all but name & even Apple Mac games rarely get any coverage at all here.

    Whether it deserves coverage on RPS, I’d say the odd article keeping tabs on things is probably about right for the audience on RPS.

    Cloud gaming will have it’s audience just like offline games will, everyone balked at Steam when it first came out and several years later it’s the considered the holy savior of PC gaming. One thing that will put a cramp on cloud gaming is the big American ISP imposing caps trying to screw over their customers, caps are not good for business just ask Netflix.

  47. rocketman71 says:

    Nope.

    OnLive and the rest go against everything a self-respecting PC Gamer should consider sacred.

    Let the console gamers use them. Me?. Never!.

    I hope.

  48. Premium User Badge PoulWrist says:

    I tried OnLive, and the graphical quality made me physically ill. No, not really, but it was quite horrible compared to what I could get from any decent 300 euro PC.

    Would I trade in my electric heater / gaming PC for this? No, I would not. Would I in the future? Unless they make the quality equal to what I can get with a state of the art machine, then no.

    I don’t own a netbook, I do own a laptop, but I don’t play on it because it’s not meant for it. I might have the odd game from GOG.com on there for a trainride where I’m out of books to read, but those are few and far between.

  49. Jabberwocky says:

    Great piece.

    -lights pipe-
    -channels the twilight zone guy-

    Imagine, dear friends, if you will, a future in which cloud gaming becomes the dominant form of playing games. The high end gaming PCs are gone. A lost relic of the past. Reminisced about like the horse drawn carriage, the telegraph, and dodo birds with blunderbusses.

    In this dark future, it is not even possible to run a game in your own house. Our computers are dumbed down video players wired to kinnect bodysuits, incapable of summoning enough processing power to beat even a 3 year old toddler stricken with intellectual dwarfism at tic-tac-toe.

    Publishing mega corp no longer even release program executables, stamping out the last vestiges of piracy and rebellion,. This top secret game code is locked away in the deep unhallowed vaults of Cloud Gaming Citadel. Were this code to escape, pirate cloud services would leap in to steal their piece of the pie, operating on the run from nomadic mud huts in north-southern Estonia. Flinching from the gaze of mega corp satellites.

    The games have been brought to the masses. Oh yes. The masses, who gather to suckle at the tit of these cloud overlords like helpless opiate addicted piglets, who will pay anything, _DO_ anything, to get their fix.

    Piracy has been eliminated.
    But…

    … at what cost?

    … to humanity?

  50. passingstranger says:

    Has the input lag improved at all over the last 6 months or so?

    I tried OnLive a while ago with a free trial or beta invite and thought the concept was neat, but never, for a split-second, forgot that I was playing on a remote server. However small the mouse movement lag may be, it was enough to shatter the notion that OnLive could be comparable to a local computer for fast-paced gaming. I browsed through the short list of available titles and switched to UT3 to see how it holds up against some serious twitch gaming.

    The answer is not well.