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Cloud (video game) computing?

Category: By Adam
As many MIT-studying kids will know, cloud computing is THE FUTURE, or at least an interesting concept that's being deployed in a few places in terms of the internets. I'm not making much sense here, so let me break it down for you: cloud computing refers to the concept of entirely server-side applications being run, data being stored, etc. everything taking place remotely, while a simple stream and/or interface is shown to the user over the internet. They can access the servers from anywhere with an internet connection and use those applications and access their data. Many of Google's apps like google docs, Amazon's shopping system, etc. are examples of this kind of stuff.

Now this new conceptual game device called OnLive tries to bring the cloud computing concept into the gaming realm. That is, you'd get a small device like the one in the picture. It'll just connect to your television, and you'll hook in up to four controllers/headsets through bluetooth. Then the device sends and recieves information from a remote server farm. So essentially, the game is running on the remote server, and it's just sending back a basic video feed of what's going on.

This pretty much eliminates the need for an expensive client-side game console. The games would also all be server side, so you'd basically just be buying access to particular games. The unit that you'd have to buy would be relatively inexpensive and not very cumbersome, and easy to move around.

The problem lies with your dependancy on the remote servers. If you can't get a connection or they're down for whatever reason, you can't even turn the "console" on. Many game consoles these days aren't connected to the internet at all, and requiring it wouldn't be for everyone. Also, there would be a considerable amount of lag involved from your control input to seeing the action on the server, which is also considerably dependant on a decent and consistant connection to the server, which isn't always possible. Even at the best of times control would seem pretty clunky, but maybe that's just because I'm pretty intense with my games.

So I don't know how well this would fly with people, what do you think?
 

2 comments so far.

  1. Nick March 27, 2009 at 1:10 AM
    I spotted OnLive after looking for previews stuff announced at GDC 2009 ... specifically R.U.S.E.

    I'm extremely interested in distributed computing / parallel processing, and distributed algorithms. Introducing a producer / consumer system that serves up media content is a fantastic idea... it takes away the consumers having to buy console upgrades every 5 years... but I don't think gamers and the game industry are ready for this yet, and I don't think the big players are going to let it happen.

    Microsoft (we all know how protective of DX they are) will probably create some type of clause or whatever in their next-gen gaming console that won't allow OnLive to distribute their games via the service. Same goes for Sony. And lets be honest, how many PC titles have you bought in the last year?

    This will absolutely KILL OnLive and and drive sales of hardware back up, which would be the goal.

    I think OnLive underestimates the power of having hardware in each household. Now, if they focused on working with Microsoft/Sony to bring distributed/peer computing and gaming to consoles, then they'd be rolling in it.

    Nice post.
    Nick
    (flavourfiasco.blotspot.com)
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