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New Service Aims To Replace Consoles With Cloud Gaming 305

ThinSkin writes "Imagine playing bleeding-edge games, yet never again upgrading your hardware. That's the ambitious goal of OnLive's Internet delivered gaming service. Using cloud computing, OnLive's goal is to 'make all modern games playable on any system,' thanks in large part to OnLive's remote servers that do all the heavy lifting. With a fast enough Internet connection, gamers can effectively stream and play games using a PC, Mac, or a 'MicroConsole,' 'a dedicated gaming client provided by OnLive that includes a game controller.' Without ever having to worry about costly hardware upgrades or the cost of a next-gen console, gamers can expect to fork over about $50 yearly just for the service. If this thing takes off, this can spell trouble for gaming consoles down the road, especially if already-established services like Steam and Impulse join the fray."
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New Service Aims To Replace Consoles With Cloud Gaming

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  • Caps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad ( 470073 ) <> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:08AM (#27310561) Homepage

    It's all fun and games (no pun intended) until you've been playing for a couple of hours and used up the whole of your monthly bandwidth allowance.

    I know that some people have the option of truely unlimited service, but an awful lot don't and that puts this service out of their reach.

  • My predictions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Benanov ( 583592 ) <brian.kemp@member. f s> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:11AM (#27310579) Journal

    The 'microconsole' will be hacked to have GNU/Linux and other FLOSS OSs installed within the first few weeks. Hardware geeks everywhere the device is offered sign up for a gaming service only to hack the subsidized hardware and then drop the subscription as soon as legally feasable. every other time someone thought to subsidize commodity PC hardware (or something based upon it) with a subscription model.

    Article also talks about "no piracy because it's not running locally."

    That's cute, I suppose latency might be a real pain then?

  • Re:Caps (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:11AM (#27310581) Homepage Journal

    It's all fun and games (no pun intended) until you've been playing for a couple of hours and used up the whole of your monthly bandwidth allowance.

    Or if you have your video games set up at a family party, away from the Internet entirely, and you don't think an air card or a tetherable data plan is worth $720 per year.

  • No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Macthorpe ( 960048 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:12AM (#27310591) Journal

    Instead of normal online game lag, you have lag between you actually pressing a button and the game responding at the server.

    Even a tiny amount in this situation would make the game 'feel' unresponsive.

  • No No No! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by godfra ( 839112 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:14AM (#27310627) Journal
    Fuck the cloud! I don't want all my gaming delivered down the pipe as a metered "service". I like owning hardware, and having the ability to play games without being hooked up to a subscriber model.

    Internet gaming is often subject to ISP drop-outs and traffic shaping. Why would I willingly embrace single-player gaming in the same poor environment?
  • by javacowboy ( 222023 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:17AM (#27310667)

    Internet broadband in North America is really pathetic in comparison to the rest of the industrialized world. Canada and the U.S. are falling rapidly behind in broadband penetration and performance.

    How is this service supposed to work reliably in such an environment?

  • Re:Caps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:29AM (#27310793)


    Anyone else reminded of The Phantom []?

  • Re:No thanks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:40AM (#27310913)

    Anyone that actually thinks this is viable is clearly a moron, the lag would make it totally unplayable.

    This is just venture capital BS to fool the stupid non technical investors...

    I'm surprised Slashdot are stupid enough to even pick up on it..

  • Re:No thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Albio ( 854216 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:01AM (#27311143) Homepage
    So they've transferred the executable to you. Great. Now where is your hardware to execute it?
  • Re:No thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:10AM (#27311253) Journal

    There's a huge difference between a FPS and an MMO. There are a large chunk of gamers who didn't use wireless mice for a long time because of the input lag. There are those that still refuse to use some of these laggy LCDs for the same reason. You have to "play" the game before you can see it happen.

    I remember being able to run through a Unreal tournament match and hit off head shots of moving targets because I could respond in a split second and had precise control. I was not able to reproduce that when I moved to a LCD monitor. It's not because my reaction time was decreased. Lag is a serious consideration for FPS games. It works well for MMOs because you aren't rocket jumping and popping off head shots while in mid air. Online shooters are a pain as well. I don't know how many times I've shot people to have nothing happen because their client doesn't agree or registered the shot differently.

  • Re:My predictions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:13AM (#27311285)

    I guess the console will be rather low-end (and not have much in the way of mass storage), so it won't be all that attractive as replacement for a "real" computer. OTOH, it is probably cheap to make and has all the connectors required for a thin client in an office environment. So if the manufacturer sells the MicroConsole separately, that might be an interesting "alternative use".

  • Time will tell ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gordguide ( 307383 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:34AM (#27311541)

    Lots of comments here about potential roadblocks, stutters and genuine questions about viability. I'll leave that to everyone else, and just say this:

    If this works (and time will tell), for fifty bucks a year, all in, I'm buying. It's that simple.

    And so will everyone else. Like I said, maybe there are issues ... I don't know. But there is a huge potential for a paradigm shift here, and let there be no doubt that these guys will have all the heavyweights breathing down their necks. Lawsuits on one side, competing services on the other. Someone, eventually, will win out, though.

    Hopefully gamers will chose the lesser of the evils, the truly bad choices have to admit defeat and give up, and we're left with a win for the consumer, for a change.

    I don't really know why, but for some reason this reminds me of the old Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times."

  • by Sait-kun ( 922599 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:34AM (#27311543)
    Then they would be broke within a very short time unless its for a very small group of people even streaming one single game will take a huge amount of bandwidth.
  • Re:Caps (Score:4, Insightful)

    by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:40AM (#27311615) Journal

    Fiber is 100mbits where? Japan? Last I heard of promises were 50mbits, and that even that was the language of "up to" not "actual/realistic". Bluray will truly use 50 megabits a second, not "up to 50". Difference there. so I agree, uncapped. However, how often have you heard of an uncapped connection? We've had capped connections longer than the issues of packet shaping. Certainly not getting better.

    Lans' are 100megabits? Wha? You can buy an 8 port gig switch for 40 bucks (25 AR). []

    Meanwhile, I do agree with the rest of what you said. There is no real improvement here in general, I'm just saying being able to play all the games off a local network with only one host would be nice for consoles which aren't really friendly to that idea right now. Mostly because they're more locked down than any other DRM that exists. It's "you want to play more than 4 people/more than one game at once, you need more consoles".

    The no piracy claim tells me that this is vaporware, really. Cloud computing as a whole is vaporware and it's own form of not so subtle DRM, remote VM's are not.

  • Re:Caps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) <> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:43AM (#27311647) Homepage Journal

    May as well reply here.

    Am I the only one that actually enjoys owning hardware? I like my PS3. I like my N64. I like my Atari. I like being able to sit down in the "man cave" and play games on my large tv without having to plug in a computer to it (other than the PS3) and if I want to pause or scratch my nuts or whatever, I can.

    I have FiOS at the house as well, so it's not like this would be a bad thing bandwidth-wise, but still. No thank you.

  • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by orkybash ( 1013349 ) <tim,bocek&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:43AM (#27311663)

    every game will be playable for as long as the company feels like supporting it.

    You say this like it's a good thing.

  • Re:No thanks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:45AM (#27311671)

    In that case, why would you need a server farm to pump out the greatest graphics in the world in order to play a RTS? Most RTS are a few years behind FPS games like Crysis.

  • Re:Caps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:46AM (#27311675) Journal

    Also worth mentioning: Even assuming you've got a magical encoding machine which only adds a few milliseconds to the latency, there's the simple fact that most video streamed over the Internet is done through a relatively large buffer.

    In fact, Flash audio and video (Youtube and friends) seems to just download as much of the video as it can, as fast as it can, and start playing once it thinks it has enough.

    This means it's possible for your connection to drop out completely for a second, or just vary by the amounts Internet traffic typically does, and so long as it comes back in time, your video will just keep playing.

    This applies even to most sane "live" broadcasts.

    Trying to do it actually live, within a few milliseconds, is completely different. The slightest blip in connectivity, which a sufficiently buffered stream would skip right over, is going to be catastrophic here.

    And just in case it wasn't obvious: Buffers inherently add latency, proportional to their size. Add a buffer that can handle even half a second of connection trouble, and you've just added half a second between the time the player says "turn left", and the time they see the camera turn left.

    I mention all of this because I suspect that the reason you'd think this is a good idea is, you've got a Roku, or you've used YouTube, or even Skype, and you've concluded that the Internet is now fast enough to do video. Maybe, but I don't think it's fast enough to do the kind of high quality, live, low-latency video demanded by a gamer.

  • Re:Image bandwidth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by donaldm ( 919619 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:50AM (#27311715)

    How does cloud computing solve the CPU-GPU bandwidth issues of modern games? Gamers still want to see the game, and at ultra high rez & IQ.

    You mean like the Nintendo Wii?

    I think he means High Definition 1280x720 (720p) and 1920x1080 (1080p) that the PS3 and Xbox360 are capable of not the Standard definition of 720x480 (NTSC) or 720x576 (PAL) the Wii is only capable of :)

  • Re:Caps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:07AM (#27311957) Journal

    Well from reading TFA(I know, I know, but I got bored) they are talking "Wii level" graphics for everyone that don't have the pipe from hell. But even worse than the caps(where I live it is a lousy 36GB per month) I think the congestion would frankly cause this thing to bring a network to its knees. I mean, can you imagine what just a couple of dozen gamers using this thing during primetime would suck down the pipe? And of course once they started dragging everyone to a crawl the traffic shaping would get cranked up and the lag on this thing would be like watching a slideshow. Anybody else remember the bad old days of dialup when you would try to game and get "killed by the invisible man" due to getting some bad lag?

    While I can understand why it was so easy to get the game companies onboard, after all we are talking about turning ALL games into rentals, with no first sale doctrine to interfere with profits, this thing just seems like a REALLY bad idea. The days of uncapped Internet are quickly coming to a close due to the fact that our greedy bloodsucking telecos would rather stuff their pockets than actually increase capacity, your ability to game would be taken out of your hands and be dependent on a combination of network traffic+this companies servers, and if you are like many where you get charged crazy money for going over your cap all it would take is your kid having a gaming session with his buds while you are at work to give you the cable/DSL bill from hell.

    No thanks, I think I will stay with my nice plastic discs. They are easy to carry, easy to back up, and work no matter whether there is a decent broadband connection or not. I can play games that are old/no longer popular, and with the bargain bin I can game for quite cheap(just picked up MOH 10th anniversary for $20 last week). All this talk about how "expensive PC gaming is" is frankly a load of crap. My PC is going on 5 years old and plays FEAR, Bioshock, pretty much any game I want to play. All it cost was a $105 graphics card upgrade. So IMHO this seems like another vaporware solution for a problem that frankly doesn't exist. They are talking about in TFA about gaming on freaking Netbooks with this thing! Does anyone think that would be a nice experience? Hell those things can get skippy just from having a few programs open! No thanks, my plastic discs are a better value IMHO.

  • Re:Caps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flitty ( 981864 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:14AM (#27312073)
    But MMO's are not the graphics heavy/processing heavy games that this cloud computing idea is focusing on. This is the major flaw in this idea, any RPG or similar style game that usually doesn't require twitch reflexes is usually not graphics heavy (most of the time). The games that really need a high level machine (over $500) are mostly FPS or are based on twitch gameplay, which would seem to be unplayable on this service.
  • Re:No thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TrekkieTechie ( 1265532 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:39AM (#27312483)

    There will also never be any issues of backwards compatibility, every game will be playable for as long as the company feels like supporting it.

    This is a problem in my book. Once I have purchased a console, it's mine forever, and the games I purchased to go with it are mine forever too. My copy of Super Mario Bros. on the NES won't stop working just because Nintendo has decided they don't want to support the game any more.

  • Re:Caps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NoobixCube ( 1133473 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:52PM (#27319663) Journal

    If The Phantom had made it to market (maybe it did, but I know I never saw one outside of a magazine mockup), this is exactly what would have killed it. Such a console just wouldn't survive in a country where ISPs use download caps - or in the case of many ISPs in Australia, "usage caps" or "data allowances" which include uploads.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:32PM (#27324493)

    Awesome. So you need a connection that's faster than what most people have to play games at lower resolution than most PC gamers (and many console gamers) do. Sounds like a winner.

    Oh yeah, and it'll blow my bandwidth cap in about forty hours.

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