Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why OnLive is The Next Big Thing

Maybe you've heard of OnLive, maybe you haven't. Either way- you probably haven't used the service. The reason for that is simple; you already have Steam and/or game consoles. Let me explain why OnLive will eventually replace both (And [spoiler!] your Netflix account).

First, a little background on me: I've been gaming for 25 years, but I'm not your average gamer. I literally enjoy every genre. Whether it's an oldschool sidescroller, a polished FPS... RPG, RTS, MMO, casual, indie, word, puzzle, interactive movie, sports, family- I like it all. I have no bias to any particular play-style. That has made finding a single source for games quite a challenge. I may have found a remedy...

In short, OnLive is a cloud gaming service. Your games are purchased, stored and played in the cloud. Audio and video are streamed to your device of choice. Access your games, friends, save states, brag clips from a PC client, tablet app or micro-console. Blah, blah, blah...

Let me explain how bad-ass this is:

I always thought Rockstar Game's L.A. Noire looked awesome. So I decided to fire up the demo. No really, that's all I had to do. Go to the game and press play. No download, no nonsense. Just instantly start playing @ 1080 on my 46" TV. Of course I loved this game, because, well... it's awesome. So I was saddened to receive notification that my 30 minute free-play was about to expire. At which point I selected "buy play-pass", plugged in my password - and continued playing. No trip to the store. No lengthy download. Game on.
Yes, that's the entire game console less cabling.

Another example:

Sometimes I like to sit quietly in my nerd-cave hunched over a horribly outdated PC and game like it's 1999. Once I launch OnLive, I have the most modern hardware at my disposal. It almost feels like cheating... But you get over it quickly.

Or if I feel like being more social, I can sit on the couch in the living room with my son and play Lego Pirates of The Caribbean from the OnLive micro-console which, by the way, has a smaller form factor than an NES cartridge.

The other cool thing about OnLive: It's free. Yeah, go download it. If you must have hardware, it's pretty dang cheap... $99. Games are priced as you'd expect, but also expect some Steam-like sales and promotions. For example, I bought Batman: Arkham Asylum for 99 cents.

Best of all, OnLive benefits everyone.

How it benefits developers:
  • Make it easier for gamers to play and purchase- sales will increase
    • More sales due to no-download demo play
    • More sales due to no-download game purchase
    • Increased pre-order business due to no-download play
  • More sales from "Arena" (social spectate feature) exposure
  • No retail packaging overhead
  • Consolidate software optimization to one hardware configuration
  • Generate new business from seasonal promotions

How it benefits hardware companies (No, OnLive won't put NVIDIA out of business):
  • Consolidate sales (Selling OEM hardware to one business is easier and more profitable than retail packaging/distribution)

How it benefits you:
  • Play without download or retail purchase
  • Play on the SECOND of release date
  • Game updates without download
  • Inexpensive hardware
    • Always have the best hardware for the latest games (From the cloud)
  • Arena feature
    • Watch your friends or random people play (optional feature)
  • Bluetooth headset
    • Talk to friends or random people as you spectate, or teamplay (optional feature)
  • Get killer deals on games when they go on sale! (I've seen crazier deals with this service than any other)
  • Multi-platform
  • More powerful parental controls

How it benefits the environment:
  • Fewer resources consumed
    • Less packaging going into landfills
    • Less transportation needed

So OnLive is the best deal in gaming. But what about movies?

Currently OnLive does games. But I read a quiet announcement last month that they were going to offer streaming movies, going head to head with the likes of Netflix. Considering the quality of OnLive's gaming experience, I'd say Netflix has something to worry about.

See you in the cloud!

(My OnLive user name: basement digital)

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