By UnlivedPhalanx 18 Comments
Hello again Giant Bomb community,
I thought the first day back on the site after my hiatus should be my thoughts about GDC and the biggest thing to happen at GDC: OnLive.
Can you imagine how amazing this service will be if it works as advertised? Now, please don't mistake my extreme optimism for ignorance or naivety but the repercussions for the game industry, as a whole would be astounding if this service works even 50% as well as they advertise. Can you imagine not having to download demos or videos on Xbox Live? Imagine having massive server farms render videos for you! This technology could change a lot of other technologies and industries in a massive way...IF it works. My prediction is that a big entity such as Microsoft will purchase this company. Actually, I'm more convinced that Amazon.com will be the people to purchase OnLive if it works like they say it will. It makes sense in Amazon's new direction with subscription services and would expand their digital services beyond things like MP3 and Kindle Books.
There are a few very basic reasons why I think OnLive will work. The number 1 reason why I think this company will succeed or at least have some very good traction right away is that MAJOR publishers are supporting OnLive right this moment (at time of article). EA and Ubisoft are just two names on a very impressive list of publishers and developers that support the service. Reasons why systems like Phantom and GameTap failed miserably was due to lack of support from game publishers to get titles on their platforms that people ACTUALLY CARED ABOUT (sad face). The next reason is that the man behind OnLive, Steve Perlman was responsible for pioneering two very important internet video/rendering services; one of which the world still uses a lot of: QuickTime. If you look on Wikipedia he is not only a successful man in the industry of online video but has spent 7 years developing new technologies just for this service. That type of commitment shows that his executive team is very serious about this service and it is not merely a rich man's experiment.
The last leg of my argument for OnLive is also one of the only things that will ultimately break it: Internet Service Providers. I think this is the first time I've been able to talk about this due to contractual obligations, but I used to work at a service-firm (who shall remain nameless) for 6 MAJOR internet service providers including Frontier, Charter, Time Warner, Consolidated, CenturyTel and a host of smaller ISPs. They absolutely have the throughput and technology to ensure that we can get connections from these OnLive server-farms to your house in very low-latency ways. I've been to the data-centers and I've seen the fiber being laid to more and more places personally, so I know for a fact the service is there to make this possible. DISCLAIMER: Time Warner still provides my internet access. I think the most major issue with OnLive is that the internet service providers are reluctant to allow users to tap more of their network and pull even more data in order to keep their profit margins incredibly high. In fact, the amount of pure greed I saw at the ISP level is second probably only to cellular providers in terms of doing anything to maintain that 500% profit margin. That's why we see things like usage caps and throttling on networks. ISPs certainly have the resources to permit things like file sharing and it's an absolute crock to think that they do not. I live in a town with less than 5,000 people at last census (2004) and we're capped just the same as the people who live in Austin, Texas - for no reason at all besides keeping profits high.
I hope this column has added something thought-provoking to discussions of OnLive that I'm sure are occurring now; this service has a very real potential to permanently change the way we play and rent video games - and I for one, hope it actually works as advertised.
by Jacob Casper
UnlivedPhalanx on the internet
Jacob Casper has written for a slew of technology-based websites and newspapers in San Marcos and Wimberley, Texas and is currently studying for a degree in journalism for these markets. Contact Jacob online at: JacobCasper@gmail.com