Lonely as a cloud? The future of OnLive

 
 

Cloud-gaming company OnLive recently took a major hit by almost going bankrupt, but is this the end of the new way of gaming? Deane Connolly investigates.


It is inevitable that the future of gaming will be 100% digital and the days of Blu-Rays and other discs are numbered. Is it too soon for this change and are the gaming community ready for it? Streaming games online, just like we all stream and listen to music, is a brilliant new way of playing games.

However, there are drawbacks to this new direction that gaming is moving towards, such as the issue of broadband. Not every gamer has access to high broadband speeds and if one is trying to stream a high definition game, we are going to be reminded of the dreaded lag that we experience just when we are about to score a goal in FIFA or get our twelfth kill-streak in Call of Duty, a major buzzkill. Many gamers that don’t have access to high speed broadband may want to stay with their physical discs and continue on gaming the way they are used to.
Another hiccup in the game streaming direction is that it is likely to highly increase the bandwidth in internet providers leading to more costly phone bills coming in at the end of the month. This may be alright for some hardcore gamers ready to pay up, but for the casual gamers this can have a very negative effect on the way they play their games. Unless there is some sort of plan put in place to deal with the streaming of games, the likes of Xbox and Playstation users could actually see a decrease. Gamers will more than likely stay with their current generation of consoles and play online for free rather than looking at a phone bill that would make you sick at the end of the month.
However, despite these issues, the OnLive model of service will be the future for the gaming industry. The reason that it nearly went bankrupt was simply because the infrastructure was not there to support it. Download speeds need to be improved in most countries to avail of this new service and truly bring gaming to a new level.
The streaming of video games is inevitable but are the gamers of today prepared to move into this new era? It is not that OnLive’s cloud-gaming is ahead of its time; the music industry has already successfully adapted streaming and this method is becoming more and more popular each day. Even the movie industry is moving into the streaming business with the media giant Netflix leading the charge, allowing you to stream movies directly to your laptops, handhelds and even consoles.

The gaming industry has the biggest challenge when it comes to this hurdle and before they even make any commitments in bringing cloud-gaming to their consoles, they need to build the foundations to enable games to run smoothly in HD. That in itself is a massive undertaking and when this is achieved the streaming of games will be a common sight. The Blu-Ray drives will be a thing of the past. Going to the shops to buy a physical disc will be non-existent. In the next generation of consoles, streaming games will be taking its first strong step and hopefully make a foothold for itself. We have not seen the last of OnLive.

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