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OnLive: the future is not that close October 26, 2009

Posted by Cesar in gaming me, working me.
Tags: , , , , , , ,


A while ago there was an interesting discussion about OnLive on a LinkedIn group.  And I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. I should say my religion is technology and I believe in the concept of OnLive from a theoretical point of view. That is: with a good enough connection, it will be possible to play high end games without disturbing lag. And I believe that connection exists.

That’s not to say I think OnLive will be a huge success. I think while the current connection speeds can be good enough for the service, they will often not be reliable enough, which will be a huge problem since local playing is not an option. You know those days you can’t surf all that well? You won’t be able to play either.

But that’s not all. One guy in the above mentioned discussion brought up a point that is very valid and somewhat unquestionable. While the connections are fast enough, they are not ready for that much traffic. And I am not talking just about the infrastructure, but also about the business model. Most ISPs in the US, Canada and Europe have what they call a fair share policy: there’s no written limit, but if you abuse it, they will cut you down. And according to the OnLive FAQ (and you know how these things go right?), to play with a 720 resolution at 60 fps, you need a 5Mbps connection. But unlike regular online games, where traffic happens in bursts and latency matters more, we can expect a somewhat constant data flow when playing OnLive. So…

That’s 625KB per second.

Roughly 2.2 GB per hour.

For a casual gamer that plays 7 hours a week, we are talking 63 GB per month.

Now imagine how much an avid gamer will consume. I will not even write it down. It is not doable. Not right now. Not with the current plans offered by most ISPs.  So while I believe in the technology, I don’t think the hit will be all that big. In fact, I think we’ll still see one whole generation of home consoles until the OnLive model becomes truly feasible. That is not to say it will fail blatantly either. It just won’t change the industry this winter like many have been saying. I for one intent to get it anyway, even if it is as a secondary console.

But I could be wrong. I hope I am.

See you space cowboys…

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