Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Games

OnLive and Gaikai — How To Stop a Gaming Revolution 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-in-this-corner dept.
happierr writes "The gaming industry has been struggling in the last few months, and it is about to struggle even more when OnLive and Gaikai launch later this year. The new services are both a step in the right direction to counter piracy and provide easily-accessible gaming to people with low-end PCs. They might even do for PC gaming what the Wii did for casual gaming; greatly expand the market and draw interest from people who would not ordinarily play games. The services are a real threat for the Big Three video game companies (Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo). How will they combat these revolutionary services? There are a few steps that the Big Three are taking to combat the New Two, such as an increased reliance on peripherals and vision cameras, exclusivity deals, and more online multiplayer features, which OnLive and Gaikai will have a hard time matching."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

OnLive and Gaikai — How To Stop a Gaming Revolution

Comments Filter:
  • Latency (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday August 09, 2009 @04:36AM (#29001215) Journal

    Neither OnLive and Gaikai wont make any gaming revolution. Yes, they might have the power and bandwidth to run the game as streaming video off their servers, but the major issue is still latency with controller. Even 50-100ms lag will be *really* noticiable when you're just moving mouse to look around. And in some fast games when you see the enemy you'll be already dead on the server.

    OnLive shows Burnout Paradise in games catalog too, and racing games are another genre where you need fast input from the controller or you will be rolling your car down the hill pretty soon. These days latency is not gonna make it. Unlike bandwidth and power, latency is a lot harder issue to overcome in future too. Sure, it works from keyboard to pc really fast. But not when its gonna move hundreds of kilometers back and worth. It's already pushed to nice 50-100ms if theres nothing interfering with your local network or something along the way. You can talk in phones in real time too (well, with the same latency, but its not noticable in that use). But for controllers, specially for mouse, its not going to work. And more so you need to stream huge video all the time that can't be prebuffered like YouTube or other video content because its generated in real time.

    Games like Counter-Strike and other multiplayer games work because the amount of work and data is split between client and server. You're only sending small amount of information to the server, like current position, shots etc. and the server is sending the client back other players information. Not a huge streaming video, but small packet with coordinates and so on. And even then we all know how crappy it goes if latency grows and the game lags.

    What comes to removing piracy via online delivered content, the answer isn't streaming the game as video. Answer is delivering content when needed in game. Yes, that still needs lots of bandwidth and an active internet connection, and you pretty much fuck the customers over with it. But it makes piracy a lot harder if you need to authenticate to server and you only get some, but still significant amount of content during game, dynamically. However technically that way is A LOT closer possible than streaming the game as video and sending controller movements back to the game server.

    Bandwidth can grow, but latency issues aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Only things this might work with is something like chess games, but I dont know if Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are going to be so worried about that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Suiggy (1544213)
      Agreed. I'm still skeptical as to whether OnLive and Gaikai can scale their infrastructure to meet demand. It also looks like they will only be servicing certain major population centers at first, so if you live out in the boondocks, good luck with that. Furthermore, if they go out of business, you lose your ability to game (it looks like you get full access to their gaming library though for a fixed monthly fee, but if they make you purchase individual games like steam does, then once they go, you've lost
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        I'm still trying to understand how they're going to put Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft out of business. That was the line in the summary that confused me.

        That, and the fact that the summary doesn't mention what OnLive or Gaikai actually do.

        • I'm still trying to understand how they're going to put Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft out of business. That was the line in the summary that confused me.

          That, and the fact that the summary doesn't mention what OnLive or Gaikai actually do.

          By making consoles obsolete since any browser will do. Yes, I, too, are skeptical. You'd need the data centers pretty close to get below 20-30 ms ping, which I think is the highest tolerable slack for most games (20ms ping ~ 50fps). That works out to 3000 km (back and forth) at the speed of light, which would be the ultimate barrier.

          • I've often wondered this myself. Even if latency was not an issue, what is so unique about Onlive that no game console can offer. If all you need is a browser, both the Wii and the PS3 offer one. It wouldn't be such a stretch for MS to include one on the 360. And just like that OnLive has no real advantage, besides, maybe patents, but good luck with that. One big advantage all console makers have is a huge pre-exsiting library of games, games meant for a TV screen. OnLive has just PC games that must be modi
            • Sure, but why buy a console if you PC can do it? At least, why buy an expensive console with tons of CPU power of a meager one will do?

              • Why buy a PC if your console can do it? Last time I checked a Wii cost $250 US dollars. Xbox 360 cost $200. Never mind buying used. Hell if the requirements are so low why not a PS2?. What's stop the Big 3 from creating a newer, low power box for little of nothing?
                • Why buy a PC if your console can do it? Last time I checked a Wii cost $250 US dollars. Xbox 360 cost $200. Never mind buying used. Hell if the requirements are so low why not a PS2?. What's stop the Big 3 from creating a newer, low power box for little of nothing?

                  Nothing, but exclusivity will go out of the window: every console of that type will be able to play everything the other cans. Thus, it will simply be the cheapest one that will win, and the service will get all the real money.

                  I have had thoughts myself along doing something along these lines, but rejected it as impossible due to latency. Will be interesting to watch, at least :) My secret dream is, of course, to see stuff like Monkey Island games again.

            • by Hojima (1228978)

              The great advantage of those servers is that you can have the power of a supercomputer without its cost. Theoretically, you can pay as much as you would for a console, and it's like you and many people chipping in to buy a really high-end PC. This way, you can use the place like a cloud server to perform massive calculations that serve to execute games that conventional technology wouldn't be able to handle, thus allowing for really intricate games that the gaming community has never seen before. I think th

              • by KDR_11k (778916)

                The problem is that you can't just magically rent that power out, you need to have it in the server room too. An average game must not use more than 1/x PCs' worth of power where x is the percentage of users online during peak load to keep the server room at one PC per user. Of course if you've got as many PCs as users anyway it'd be pointless to centralize them because each user could use a PC for the same money. So your average game would have to use significantly less than 1/x. I don't think that's going

        • I'm still trying to understand how they're going to put Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft out of business. That was the line in the summary that confused me.

          That, and the fact that the summary doesn't mention what OnLive or Gaikai actually do.

          They generate a lot of hype and great media coverage to impress their investors, at least so far.

    • by Zeussy (868062)

      Games like Counter-Strike and other multiplayer games work because the amount of work and data is split between client and server.

      That is not the only reason counter strike (and Half-Life 1 in general) gained so much popularity. The server would record that last second or 2 of the game and when it received that you had fired a gun, it would retrospectively fire it from how you would of seen the game 250ms ago (or however long your current ping is). This led to the game feeling a lot more responsive to pla

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by zwei2stein (782480)

        It is possible that players will adapt similary: instead of reacting they will act prememptivelly. I had my share of playing on lowend machines with laggy graphics and in the end, it was matter of getting used to.

        Say, you play car racing game, since you know track, you can start streering a bit before you would if you had instant control.

        This gets, of couse, hard in multiplayer or in any other game where you actually need to react to enviroment. And is not really pleasant experinece as till now i always sta

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          Say, you play car racing game, since you know track, you can start streering a bit before you would if you had instant control.

          Have you actually played Burnout Paradise?

        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          Damn near everyone who played a FPS back in age of dialup knows how to lead a shot to compensate for lag. The only problem is unlearning that when you got broadband.

    • You argue that latency is not going to be overcome anytime soon. While I can see your point about sending video vs real time data, I would have to argue against that. Not the benefits/risks about delivering the medium, but the latency issue. As it stands, we are using copper to send information. And you are correct in pointing out that latency is a huge issue there. But you also seem to argue that its a issue that is impossible to overcome in the future. That's where I have to disagree. The trend seems to b
      • by Suiggy (1544213)
        Fiber at your doorstep is at least a decade away from being mainstream. Sure, it's already available on trial in certain cities, but it won't be common place anytime in the near future.
        • by Svartalf (2997)

          Heh... Even if you had FTTP (I do...it's AWESOME.) the bandwidth and latency concerns you'll have on the SERVER end will kill this idea.

          Just how many SD sessions at 1.5Mbits do you think you could handle with the respective links if you were one of these companies?

          OC-3 : 100
          OC-12 : 400
          OC-48 : 1650
          OC-192 : 6350

          That's presuming no issues with lost traffic, latency, etc. I don't know about you but 10G service is neither cheap, nor is it easy to work with. Moreover, if you're not using OC-192, you're

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by KDR_11k (778916)

            The games industry is worrying about "piracy" when they should actually be looking at the why the piracy is going on and the lost sales are happening (but, like the record industry, they're not going to bother connecting the dots...).

            A bigger issue is all the people who neither pirate nor buy because they don't like the product on offer. New delivery methods aren't going to get those people to buy.

      • Re:Latency (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday August 09, 2009 @05:04AM (#29001275) Journal

        Here in Sweden most of our internet infrastructure is actually fiber, not copper. Thats why we have 100mbits (1gbit in largest cities) to home. But the latency is still 25-50ms and thats in your home city. Going further from that and it grows.

        I said the latency issue will not be fixed soon, not never. But it's gonna take some good time before we get there. Currently the only possible way this could work even some is to have datacenter in every city you want customers from. And you need lots of servers just sitting around idle just in case more players want to play. That is gonna be huge amount of datacenters. Hell, even Google doesn't have a datacenter in *even* every country, so theres no way they're gonna build datacenter in every larger city on the planet.

        No, this is not going to make any kind of gaming revolution anytime soon, and publishers have little to nothing to worry about.

        • That's interesting. In the long run they might not have to do a data center in every city. They could utilized a p2p architecture to remedy some of the problems gamers experience.
          • by Suiggy (1544213)
            Gamers aren't going to have hardware to run game simulations on. The only thing you can count on them having is the OnLive/GaiKai set-top receiver and a TV. So P2P is not going to work here. I imagine they're using some sort of virtualization technology. So assuming current technology, with dual quad-core Xeons and quad GPUs for rendering per rack unit, you're only going to be able to run 2 to 8 modern games per unit. So if you're servicing at most 10,000 customers per large city, you're going to have to h
        • Latency will never be fixed entirely. It is still dependent on the speed of light, which is not infinite. One light millisecond is 186 miles or 299 kilometers which is not really all that far, especially in a large country like the U.S. If you're playing a game in New York and the server is in San Francisco, the minimum delay would be 15 ms.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          Thats why we have 100mbits (1gbit in largest cities) to home.

          Sure, brag about your internet connections.

          But you guys are forced to have universal health care, which means people dropping dead in the streets and old people being forced to take lethal injections.

          I know this because that nice young man on AM-560 told me so. I'm not sure what kind of health care they have on the FM band, because the FM in my '83 Toyota pickup doesn't work.

          • by sopssa (1498795) *

            Actually if you want to bash, health care is bad way to go. Unlike US, we take care of people. But that goes with burden of tax, so bash that. And yes, it sucks.

            • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

              by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

              It was sarcasm bro, obviously your people aren't dropping dead in the street, and your elderly aren't being euthanized. That was supposed to be so outlandish you would realize that the next bit, about the AM radio, was poking fun at US political commentators.

              The US has, bar none, the best medical care in the world. But it will cost you. Nobody is refused emergency, life-saving care, but that doesn't mean you don't pay for it. If you can't afford it, chances are your life is pretty much over from a finan

              • Re:Latency (Score:5, Informative)

                by stjobe (78285) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @12:01PM (#29002911) Homepage

                The US has, bar none, the best medical care in the world.

                Well, I've seen this touted before, and as then I feel obliged to point out that e.g. the WHO disagrees:

                The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2000, ranked the U.S. health care system as the highest in cost, first in responsiveness, 37th in overall performance, and 72nd by overall level of health (among 191 member nations included in the study). The WHO study has been criticized in a study published in Health Affairs for its methodology and lack of correlation with user satisfaction ratings. A 2008 report by the Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States last in the quality of health care among the 19 compared countries. However, the U.S. also has higher survival rates than most other countries for certain conditions, such as some less common cancers. Yet, the U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate than all other developed countries. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the United States is the "only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage" (i.e. some kind of assurance).

                And more:

                Medical debt is the principal cause of bankruptcy in the United States.

                (source: wikipedia [wikipedia.org], of course, emphasis mine).

                • The problem with those figures is that they award bonus points for already being a socialized health care system. That's how the US is highest in responsiveness (and highest in survival rates for those cancers) but 37th and 19th out of 19 in "overall performance." If you're rating health systems based on number of lives saved, the US health care system is best. If you're using some other metric, that's the kind of thing that you need to point out.
                • In addition to what jmac said it should also be pointed out that the US is the most obese country in the world. Obesity can lead to all sorts of expensive long term diseases (like diabetes). When you start out with a less healthy population you're bound to come up with different statistics.

                  In general it's hard to compare one country to another because of the number of variables involved. Even countries with socialized medicine differ greatly in their statistics.

              • by drsquare (530038)

                Nobody is refused emergency, life-saving care, but that doesn't mean you don't pay for it.

                So if you have some potentially-terminal condition, they only treat you when you're on the deathbed and it's too late? That doesn't sound like the best health care in the world.

                Nor does insurance companies refusing treatment due to smallprint or technicalities.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by RedWizzard (192002)

                The US has, bar none, the best medical care in the world.

                That's why the US at the top of this graph [flickr.com]. Oh wait...

                • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                  Right, that's because here in the US, it's not about the outcome, it's about the process (see Iraq, War in (1990,2003) and Terror, War on (2003).

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Fiber has a long way coming as dsl/cable operators are pushing out more and better equipment with better repeaters, 3G/4G mobile broadband, all the people using wireless to connect in their house because cables are impractical and so on. And latency is still handled extremely poorly by any QoS or is at least complicated, I can play and download in background but with this scheme it'll probably make the gaming experience suck. And that goes if you're sharing the internet connection with anyone else, like say

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Not to mention with so many of the telecos looking to stick their customers with caps, instead of actually laying more pipes like they should be doing, I'm betting this thing goes down in flames.

          The average price of going over your cap, at least around here, is $1.25 a Gb. Just imagine getting an extra $60-$100 slapped on your bill because your kid had been doing some heavy gaming when you weren't at home. I'll stick with the nice shiny discs where I don't have to worry about hitting my cap, thanks ever

          • Hah, you losers might have crappy upload speeds, but I am with Virgin Media cable and that nice mr branson has recently DOUBLED my upstream speed! Ha ha! I now have EIGHTEEN THOUSAND BYTES PER SECOND upload. Read it and weep, bitches!

          • by tomhudson (43916)

            Plus the nice shiny disk will keep working even if you change your internet plan or cancel the service entirely - AND you can always sell it, lend it, or trade it.

      • You argue that latency is not going to be overcome anytime soon.

        Yes, pretty soon now we'll just increase the speed of light... oh wait

        • by MtHuurne (602934)

          The speed of light is 300,000 km/s. If 50 ms is an acceptable latency, 15,000 km can be traveled by the signal. Input events have to travel to the server and the video has to travel back, so the server should be within 7,500 km of the player. This means the server has to be on the same continent, but not necessarily in the same city.

          Of course network switches, the game itself and video encoding and decoding add latency, but those are all things that get faster as technology advances.

          • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            The speed of light in fiber optic cable is about 200,000km/s, or right around 66% of the speed of light in a vacuum.

            Copper is actually nearly as fast, but other technical limitations cause shorter copper runs, and therefore higher delays, than fiber over long distances.

            That's why fiber is used for distance, but we can still get 10gigabit+ for short runs of copper.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LordVader717 (888547)

        It has nothing to do with using copper wires. The signals travel at close to the speed of light, for both copper wires and optical fibre. The latency has much more to do with the infrastructure. Packet switching, QOS, and shared capacity for ISPs. Basically, it's what makes the internet the internet.
        A few Arcade machines had direct telephone lines to central servers for "online" play, and that dealt with lag effectively. But nothing short of a internet revolution could bring it down to that kind of responsi

    • Re:Latency (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dword (735428) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @05:30AM (#29001333)

      Latency isn't a problem for my country. There are two major ISPs and one is dedicated in high bandwidth while the other in low latency. They're so cheap that just for on-line gaming and for on-line streaming at once, I would gladly subscribe to both (I don't play a lot of games so it's not my case, but I have some friends who are subscribed to both). This is a killer for your whole post, since the 50-100ms is considered "a lot" if you're subscribed to one of the ISPs and it's probably the fault of your own hardware. You get ping replies like 15-25ms between any of their subscribers. They move quick enough for a whole on-line gaming industry as described in the article so they may not be able to couple the whole world, but they can do it country-by-country where it's possible and in many countries it is possible., believe me.

      • Where is your "country" exactly? I'd love to know, so I could move there, thanks.
        • by dword (735428)

          Some people would say "Eastern Europe", but I'd say it's in the middle, politically speaking.

          • That doesn't exactly narrow it down :P

            • by zmollusc (763634)

              Sealand? :-)

            • I does, actually. I'd guess Poland, simply because it's the largest country which fits the description, but it could also be the Czech Republic, or maybe Slovakia or Hungary, although with the latter two we're arguably starting to get into Southern Europe. ;)

        • That's not so unusual. Nowadays things probably aren't so shiny due to the extreme overselling and poor use of QoS techniques, but 5/6 years ago (when I still played) it was standard to have pings of 6-20 ms to national servers and 15-30 to those in some (well connected) countries in Western Europe (UK and Netherlands-based servers were popular). All this over, at the time, a 4 Mbps cable connection. So you can move to 5-years-ago Portugal too, in addition to the GP's "in the middle of Europe" country :P

      • Of course if they put servers in close ping proximity to every user, this can work. But that means a lot of servers, spread all around the world, which they need to set up and maintain.

        Whereas the current business model involves the users themselves getting their hardware to every place where it is needed (i.e. to every user's house). This is much more scalable and simpler from the perspective of the business. But yeah, this is a hassle for users, and OnLive and Gaikai believe their offering will win bec
        • by dword (735428)

          Of course if they put servers in close ping proximity to every user, this can work. But that means a lot of servers, spread all around the world, which they need to set up and maintain.

          That's just it... They don't need to have many servers, just a few connected to ISPs with low latency, because this way they already have low-latency access to the whole country. Those "a lot" of servers already exist in some places and they're already maintained by some ISPs. All they needed to figure out was how to get low latency between their own servers. I agree, it's still speculation, but the risk of hardware failure is very low so if their software is good enough, this might actually lead to a gamin

          • I presume your country is fairly small, which makes it possible to get within close ping distance of everyone there fairly easily. But, in general to cover e.g. the entire US or Europe with good ping rates will cost a lot.
      • Not likley (Score:4, Informative)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @07:31AM (#29001553)

        Ok so your ISP has low latency in itself. That is not impressive. I have a regular DOCSIS2 cable modem here in the US. Not fibre, no special new technology. However, I get pings on the range of 10-30ms to other Cox customers, and Cox sites in my state. That's wonderful... But it doesn't hold up when I have to start traversing longer distances. For example going to Google, well now I'm up to 50-60ms. Google is pretty quick, since near as I can tell it is a datacentre in a neighboring state that I'm going to, and there is a direct connection from Cox to Google. How about something over on the East Coast, say Juno, an East Cost ISP? That is more like 80-100ms. All that and I'm still in my country, still on my continent.

        Now please remember that my numbers, like yours, are all minimal network pings. These are extremely fast. The actual latency for an application can often be higher since more processing has to be done and you have larger payloads.

        The upshot is that you only tend to have these awesome low pings to things that are very close to you both in network terms and physical terms. In your country, maybe everything is physically close. That's not the case in the United States. My city is 100 miles away from the next major city, and that 100 miles is filled with a lot of nothing. You could fit most nations in my state with room to spare and it isn't the largest one.

        So, while you could get low latencies, potentially, by sticking servers in lots of ISPs, and in lots of geographic locations, that just isn't really feasible. Barring that, there is no way you are going to have super low latencies. Sorry. There aren't magic technologies out that that people are just holding back. A large part of it is simply router speed. It takes time for a router to get a packet, figure out where it is going to go, and send it out. Every router adds a little bit of time, and unless you want to have a giant mesh with all nodes connected to all other nodes, there's going to be a lot of routers in the middle.

        With longer distances, the speed that data travels through the lines itself becomes a factor. While light speed sounds really fast, it really isn't on the scale of the Earth and the time scale of data. Assuming you had an ideal vacuum situation, a beam of light can go around the Earth in about 133ms. So, even as fast as it could possibly be, we are still talking perceptible lag at long distances.

        This gets worse since we don't have ideal conditions. For one, optical fibre has a higher index of refraction than a vacuum. This means that light travels slower through it. It goes maybe 2/3rds c in good fibre. Then there's the fact that fibre doesn't run in nice straight lines to its target. It goes around and over obstacles, it follows roads, rails and so on, it goes in and out of buildings and so on. You end up having a longer run than an "as the crow flies" situation.

        So no matter what you do, you are going to have latency when dealing with distances, and at long distances it isn't going to be trivial. The routers are going to add latency, the cable is going to add latency, translations from one form to another will add latency, and so on.

        Thus the only way to have ultra low latency is to be close physically and through the Internet to your target. This is not always feasible.

      • by cbraescu1 (180267)

        Is that you, Pope Benedict XVI?

      • by obi (118631)
        Raw network latency would not be the only contributing factor to the overall latency. Just imagine the latency introduced by the audio and video encoding (their infrastructure) and decoding (the minimal hardware at home). Plus all the tricks they'll have to pull to scale their infrastructure, etc. I'd be surprised if they can pull it all off.

        But who knows, maybe they really have some clever ideas; I'm genuinely curious as to how they'll try and tackle the technical issues.
    • by BorgDrone (64343)

      Even 50-100ms lag will be *really* noticiable

      Sure, but they will be targeting civilized parts of the world with this service so latency shouldn't be that high. Ping times to a server in a datacenter near the major internet exchange of the country I live in (.nl) average to about 10ms (between 8 and 12, occasional spike to 14ms) at the moment. And this is over a cable modem. If they choose the location of their datacenters carefully (and they'll have to) latency shouldn't be too much of a problem.

    • All in all i agree. But

      You can talk in phones in real time too (well, with the same latency, but its not noticable in that use).

      You never attended a TeamSpeak session or something alike with this kind of latency (50-100ms), did you? Everybody starts talking because they don't hear anything, then all comes intermingled, than everybody pauses, waiting for the others to talk and so on... Two people are enough for that so this can be applied to ordinary phone calls. I'm not sure about 50ms but 100ms is definitely noticable.

      It's kind of like two people walking down the street in the opposite direction facing each

    • Games like Counter-strike work because the input don't need to be send to the server to show a change on the screen.
      You press LEFT, and the char move left on your screen. The left movement still has to hit the server, procesed, and return.

      300 ms lag with Counter-Strike is playable, but feel lame. 200 ms with input lag is unplayable.. playable with training, you need to train yourself to move the character like a drunk. And that the better way to explain it. On today games, the clientside adds the quick r

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      Actually, the bandwith is going to be prohibitive. Do the math...

      At 1.5 Mbits/s you can service roughly 100 simultaneous players on an OC-3. (That's 155/1.5- leaving you with 103, call it 100 for margin for error sake- and it's really not a good margin...)

      With an OC-12 link you can service 400 players with a bit larger margins for load induced problems (That's 633/1.5...)

      With an OC-48 link you can service about 1650 or so players with actually usable margins... (2500/1.5)

      With an OC-192 link you can service

      • I'm curious what kind of codec they'll be using. That's something no one has stopped to ask it looks like. If they were to use something like motion jpeg they MIGHT get away with it. It'll make you shudder at the quality, but the compression would be helpful.
    • by vertinox (846076)

      Even 50-100ms lag will be *really* noticeable when you're just moving mouse to look around. And in some fast games when you see the enemy you'll be already dead on the server.

      I'm not sure what games you've been playing, but if I can get a 64 player FPS server to get me 50-100ms pings then I'm doing good.

      With big games like EVE and WoW, I can expect pings of 100-200ms depending on what time of the day.

      I think the revolution will be more along the lines of accessibility with MMOGs and Gaikai simply because yo

  • Soon to join the corpses of several other services that tried to do the same thing.

    Broadband doesn't have the amount of penetration yet to make this possible.
  • The gaming industry has been struggling in the last few months, and it is about to struggle even more when OnLive and Gaikai launch later this year. The new services are both a step in the right direction to counter piracy and provide easily-accessible gaming to people with low-end PCs.

    Article troll you!

  • Utter fantasy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dutch Gun (899105) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @05:31AM (#29001339)

    As as been pointed out elsewhere, measuring the video game industry on a month by month basis is idiotic. The US and the entire world is in a bit of a slump, but video game sales are still pretty solid overall. Traditional measurements don't account for things like online purchases, or whether or not any majorly anticipated games have been released. Keep in mind that videogame development takes place over *years*. So, those of us (well, at least me) who make games for a living just tend to shake our heads as people talk about monthly "slumps", etc.

    I've heard nary a whisper from any of my colleagues and friends in the videogame industry about these new services. Most that I've talked to about it believe it to be somewhere between vaporware and wishful thinking. Yes, eventually this sort of solution may make a lot of sense. But at the moment, it's far more practical for the client to have access to local data and do the job of presentation (rendering the world) for the user. The issue of latency is simply going to be a showstopper. Unless they've figured out some sort of magical solution to turn 150-300ms latency into a snappy user experience, gamers will not flock to these services. And without gamers paving the way, the service won't be going anywhere.

    You'll notice that just about every business under the sun is dying to get you to sign up for a *service* instead of purchasing *products*. This seems to be the new matra in software development of all sorts. Subscription-based services mean regular and predictable income. Everyone is looking at the cash Blizzard is raking in, and want a piece of that action. Online services also are just about the only viable protection against piracy, another bugaboo with industry execs and publishers.

    This reminds me a lot of DivX - the DVD alternative, not the video codec. It was the movie industy's wet dream. Purchasing DVDs that you didn't actually own. This strikes me as something vaguely similar - a system designed for the benefit of the publishers, not the consumers. As such, it will die a slow, ignominious death as it's largely ignored by those who insist on a top-notch gaming experience.

    • by twokay (979515)
      It's the easy way out too. Instead of having to innovate interesting ways to use the internet for gameplay OnLive is attempting to give developer and publishers the ability to just shove existing content down the pipe at the consumer, but in a way they have total control over. No clever people or innovate ideas needed.

      Criterion has done it better by heavily integrating social stats and scoreboards into Burnout Paradise. You need a valid account to keep track of your stats and to be able to compare yourse
      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        It's the easy way out too. Instead of having to innovate interesting ways to use the internet for gameplay OnLive is attempting to give developer and publishers the ability to just shove existing content down the pipe at the consumer, but in a way they have total control over. No clever people or innovate ideas needed.

        That is pretty much why it will NOT counter the shrinking of the videogame market. It's shrinking because the number of people who like the kind of stuff that gaming offers is shrinking (eithe

    • One important argument against comparing videogame sales month to month and by previous year's same month is that there simply isn't a Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto or God of War released the same month of every year. Each other year the one-big-title publishers take a hit because they released a well received game last year. Same problem with delays - a lot of depreciation of value is amounted to games that are delayed into the next calendar year and the next year the publisher surprisingly make an un
  • Now we will no longer just add draconian on-line activation to the games, we will no longer give you the game itself.
    Even with steam you get the game data, which could still be cracked and used if steam would go belly-up.

    And there is of course the latency issues mentioned in other replies. Unless somebody breaks the laws of physics, latency will always be there. It takes roughly 40ms to cross the atlantic, making for a 80ms RTT. Routers add more as it goes, not much per each but it all adds up.
  • OnLive will not be a viable option for most people.

    Firstly, the streaming video quality will be quite poor.

    Secondly if the video is a high enough bitrate, ISPs will get upset and eventually start filtering it. That, or you're on a metered plan and will only be able to game a few times a month.

    Peak gaming hours are probably also peak internet surfing hours, and many ISPs struggle to provide webpages in a decent time, never mind decent definition streaming video.

    You'll get better video quality out of a $50 vi

  • by captjc (453680) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @07:20AM (#29001525)

    As a PC Gamer, I want to BUY my games. Why is every company trying to take that away from me? I want to walk into a store, pick up a box with a DVD in it, pay at the register, go home, and play. I also want to be able to play the game, say 5 years from now. Perhaps 10? The only thing that should stop me from playing a 10+ year old game is having a 10+ year old PC or a PC emulator. Lastly, If the game is shitty, I would like to sell it and maybe recoup my lost money.

    I have cash, I want the DVD, is that so hard? Valve's games come on a DVD, but is still requires Steam to install it, so no reselling there. If steam decides to no longer support my game, oh, well. All of the games with online activation and limited installs, again no reselling and good luck playing them in 10+ years. Lastly, OnLive and Gaikai...these "revolutionary services", well...you know what your getting into to begin with. But if this is the direction PC gaming is going to take, then I am out.

    For the record, Anti-PC gamers that complain about having to "upgrade every 6 months" is full of shit. I have a 4 year old system that runs new games fine. The only thing upgraded was the video card, and that was two years ago, with a bargain-bin 512Mb Nvidia card.

    Also, Yes, I do replay my 10+ year old games. Hell, I even buy old classics off Amazon, good luck doing that 10 years from now!

    • by hab136 (30884)

      I want to walk into a store, pick up a box with a DVD in it, pay at the register, go home, and play.

      The main problem is that it's fairly easy to replace the first 4 steps with "download it", so they'd rather sell you a subscription.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bigngamer92 (1418559)
        It's not for ease of use that they want you to take a subscription. It's so you have no rights over it. 100 gamers buy a game each month for $50. That's $5,000 for the industry. The gamers then sell these games at $20 dollars to gamestop and now there are 200 gamers playing the game at an average of $25. If instead you charge them $10 a month for as many games as you want, they are ensured that for as long as you want to game they get $2000/month. And they could just stop making games.

        Actually make
    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      You are not alone, many millions of customers (I prefer that term over consumers because it emphasizes that it's a two-way relationship) are unwilling to go download only. Of course it seems like the game industry is thinking of the customers as sheep that can be herded into whatever benefits the industry, just asserting that the customers will be willing to follow every whim. They will probably be surprised when their services flop because people don't want it and then blame the technology or even claim th

    • The only reason you can play new games on your old hardware is that the big boys have quit pushing the limits of the hardware, as it shrinks their potential market.  This is rational behavior on their part, but very annoying to us enthusiasts.

      Check out my FPS in my sig.  Made by myself, to please myself, and takes full advantage of your hardware--not for looks and bling, but for gameplay.  It's free, too.
    • by vertinox (846076)

      As a PC Gamer, I want to BUY my games. Why is every company trying to take that away from me? I want to walk into a store, pick up a box with a DVD in it, pay at the register, go home, and play.

      I suspect the same reason why you can buy your music with iTunes and Amazon.

      Hell... I haven't bought a physical music CD in ages, so why do I need to do the same with games?

      Of course I prefer to buy from the online distributors that have little or no DRM like Gamersgate.com which I can make backups and move it to a n

  • These services will / might succeed if they can be used also as video services. Since they also provide their own "DRM" that's accepted by the end-users, they could be in the position of allowing acces to video content while still keeping MPAA happy.

    if they don't add video content to the mix they arer doomed, since they can't offer a unique competitive advantage over existing players in the field.

  • It can't work here in Belgium for the simple reason of capped internet. I've got a maximum of 30 gb/month as do all the big isps. Let's assume that these services need 4 mbit/s. That's like half an hour of playing every day, without downloading anything else. Unless if they can make a deal with these isps to let their traffic costfree, it just won't work.
  • by Junta (36770) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @08:58AM (#29001833)

    The closest analog today is streaming video. And let's compare and contrast.

    First, streaming pre-encoded, pre-rendered (if applicable) content is all they do. Companies trying to stream the video component of a game will require massively more amounts of computational power to do the live rendering and encoding. Also, the pre-encoding process takes advantage of both backward and forward prediction to build intermediate frames with full knowledge of what came before and what will come after a given frame. This is also something they will not have. This likely means their algorithm will not be able to compete. They say vague things like 'our algorithm is designed for gaming to get better results', but at best it sounds like they count on game output to look simplistic, which seems a poor assumption.

    Video companies achieve remotely acceptable performance by extensive buffering to compensate for dips in network performance. Generally, while watching a live stream, there is always a few seconds of buffer between you and the actual end of stream thusfar. They will not have this luxury in a gaming scenario, the alternative would be to drop frames in a network performance dip.

    I've only seen this work on the low-quality youtube videos (i.e. the buffer never getting drained). 'High-def' (often 720x480 is called high-def in streaming world btw, much much lower than consoles and pcs are pumping out for games commonly today) almost always stutters or has a very long pause up front while it builds up a sufficient buffer to not get exhausted. In other words, even with the advantage of not worrying about realtime considerations.

    As mentioned above, the standard for remote video resolution is a *lot* lower than the standard for gaming. I expect to run at 1920x1080 on a TV and better on my PC.

    Of course, as others have mentioned, simple network latency round-trip is way too high for control to feel good (I heard enough complaints about a slightly lagged TV), however this is insignificant compared to the buffering latencies that video requires to work. For video streaming, this is not an issue. The only way to mitigate this would be to have datacenters everywhere with special deals with ISPs, very much driving up costs to be even more non-competitive.

    Finally, streamed video *still* has more artifacts than buying the disc or downloading the thing in advance. Trying to fit in a realistic bandwidth footprint in a streaming video context requires much lower bitrates than are comfortable. If OnLive expects to get at Video gaming resolutions.... Well... I suspect it will look badly.

    • by Junta (36770)

      Oh, and just to add, if they are fully anticipating dropping frames, this means they will be able to take advantage of keyframes in encoding less often to avoid large penalties for having to drop frames. If they had a keyframe every 30 seconds, one dip could knock off video quality for 30 seconds. Therefore, their encoding requirements will be even higher.

  • I'm going to make up some numbers pulling from Amazon EC2 and current costs of what I see as equivalent hardware. During this I'm going to ignore the cost of buying a game as this will add a whole new level of complexity that I will skim over at the end of this post.

    During this I will make the following assumptions

    Both consoles will be used for 40 hours a month.

    Both consoles will be used for both online and single player.

    I am not an economist as such the number will be wrong, the maths broken and overly sim

    • by Junta (36770)

      The xbox membership cost is not universal either, PS3 and Wii have no such cost. Also, the broadband is optional on the consoles, as they can play offline. Multiplayer requires less than the Onlive does in terms of latency and throughput.

  • According to the Wiki entry for OnLive: "Broadband connections of 1.5 Mbps dials the image quality down to Wii levels while 4-5 Mbps pipes are required for HD resolution."

    Assuming 4 Mbps (500 kBps) and a monthly quota of 60 GB, this equates to:
    60*10^9 Bytes / 500*10^3 Bytes/sec / 60 sec/min / 60 min/hr = 33.3 hours of gameplay.

    Even if you're not a hardcore gamer and you average less than 1 hour per day, a 2GB per hour dent is still pretty stiff.
  • Every since I've read about OnLive I've wanted to know why this is big deal. I've wanted to know what is it that their little box can do that is SO impossible to do on an existing game console. What is it that will make Nintendo, Sony, and MS suddenly stop innovating?

    People get caught up on the latency issue, and as far as I know if OnLive licks is that will be a bigger deal than the gaming aspect. But latency aside, what does OnLive offer that can't be don't by the Big 3? Is it a cheaper console? I imagin

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      All OnLive brings to the table is that the games aren't on the consumer (yes that'd be the right term for that...) end of the equation- they all reside back on a server farm back at a data center. So it's almost impossible to "pirate" the game.

      This is a DRM snake oil play- that isn't even really workable because of bandwidth and latency concerns. And not just on the client side... You're going to need to have multiple OC-192's at any major location just to make the service usable. You can only really se

    • Well, one thing that OnLive does extremely well is present a tiny black box that is less ugly than a cable box and puts a foot in the predictably revenue generating videogame market. Which tecnhologically challenged venture capitalist wouldn't want to get in on this excitement? I mean, the phantom seemed like a good idea at the time and this lets me own all the hardware and rent it to the public... The returns on investment are astronomical!
  • I don't see this working when doing the same Over LAN with stuff like photoshop, cad and stuff with high bandwidth and cpu needs is not that good and hear you are talking about ISP with more traffic and lower speeds as well caps.

  • As you might know, many people just want to play small games in-between things, not invest too much time, etc. And for those people, Flash games are perfect.
    According to the German IT/telco industry association "Bitkom", 73% of all online-players from 14 years upwards prefer games in the browser [bitkom.org].

    And while a call my self a pro gamer, I love Kongregate [kongregate.com]. Those games have no ultra-realistic graphics, no real stories, etc. So they have to concentrate on good gameplay / mechanics, and then give it nice aesthetics

  • TFA would have been better referring to the Ansoff's Product-Market Growth Matrix [wikipedia.org].

    Market penetration - exclusive games to attract gamers from other consoles.
    Product development - selling new kinds of peripherals to make more from existing customers.
    Market development - Guitar Hero has also sold a lot of consoles to previously non-gamers, Wii took Nintento away to new casual market (doing this via product development, but the major change was their market).
    Diversification - media centre, though really it'

  • Has no one grabbed these people by the ears and told them : "What you are trying to do is stupid by design" ? I've eviscerated clients over far milder offences.

    Yes, the latency issue is obvious. Even if they can get it down to 30ms round-trip (perfectly feasible in the U.S.), it's still too much. Why ? Well let's assume 30 fps progressive display, that means every single action will be at least three frames behind. Why ? Because games already work on a precisely synced lo
  • Not a huge market wants to play PC games because they prefer the living room experience, and you can't use proprietary console controllers (guns, dance mats, motion controllers, etc), so consoles are out.
    • by mjwx (966435)

      Not a huge market wants to play PC games because they prefer the living room experience,

      Not true, the PC market is larger then the individual console market, it is just far more diversified. The same crowd which plays Half-Life is not always the same crowd who plays Civilisation although there is some crossover. PC games routinely sell 3 or 4 million units where as only the top Xbox or Playstation games could claim this. PC games are also more profitable per unit as there is no licensing fee to be paid to

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo. - Andy Finkel, computer guy

Working...