Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gaming in the cloud. Is it here to stay?

Cloud gaming, to some, is not a new concept. People have been playing games on the cloud via the OnLive service for over a year now. The service opened up to Americans in the June of 2010, beginning life with a subscription model that gave customers access to all the games on the service for a monthly fee.

At launch, the service offered very little in terms of content with only a few big name titles such as Assassins Creed 2 and Batman Arkham Asylum. In August of 2010 OnLive removed its subscription fee and the games became individually priced.

Jump forward around one and a half years and you can see that OnLive has made a lot of progress since it's launch. There are now 189 titles available and the range is constantly expanding with AAA blockbuster titles and long-lost classics. OnLive also tends to have regular sales, encouraging people to use the service.

Now to the topic at hand, is Cloud gaming here to stay?

The biggest plus of cloud gaming to most people is the fact that you don't need a top-end gaming rig to play the newer more graphically intense games as the game is rendered on the OnLive servers and the resulting image is sent to your PC. Also, as of the release of the OnLive application on Apple and Android systems the games can now also be played on device such as the iPad. This clearly offers a huge advantage to the people who don't want to continually update their hardware to keep up with the demands of modern gaming. It also means that you can game on the move, providing you have a sufficient internet connection. However, this does mean you never own a physical copy of the game or even have access to any of the files as you would if you purchased the same game on Steam. You pay for the right to stream the game to your chosen device.

On one hand this means valuable hard drive space is conserved and also makes mobile play on Tablet PC's possible. Unfortunately some people do not like the idea of never actually receiving anything other than the experience of playing the game.

As far as pricing for the games is concerned they are competitive to say the least, prices are often lower than their hard copy counterparts and on a par with Steam (excluding promotions and offers).

Cloud gaming is a simple idea and has made a lot of progress since its launch. The biggest challenge services such as OnLive face is having to compete with competitors such as Steam and finding ways to capture some of the audience still buying retail copies. Cloud gaming is, in my personal opinion, the future of gaming. Sony or Microsoft will eventually incorporate similar services into their consoles, most likely next generation, introducing this to a much wider audience. This isn't to say that traditional gaming we have come to know and love will be completely wiped out, just that in the near or distant future we could see many more gamers playing in the cloud.


Flying in the face of Microsoft and Sony's efforts to embed the console in the living room and make it our entertainment system of choice, new service Onlive has finally arrived in the UK - and will do its level best to convert us to cloud-based gaming.

Those attending this year's Eurogamer Expo and making it to the OnLive developer session apparently had a nice surprise in store... delegates who fought their way through the onlookers apparently got their hands on a free console. Sadly, Megabits wasn't one of the lucky few to grab one - but that's not to say we aren't tempted by the new service...

It's been available in the US for about a year now but for those of you who've never heard of this new gadget, you can basically stream the latest games via your broadband connection without physical discs. Users can play demos for free, pay for a rental (spanning three or five days) or buy unlimited access to a game for as long as it stays on OnLive - which it promises will be at least three years. And then there are the bundle packages to access all the games.

It all sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Question is, will most of us be able to access it lag free with our lacklustre broadband services. It's no secret that broadband speeds aren't all they're cracked up to be here in the UK. Many of us can only dream of attaining the speeds necessary to stream movies without them pausing every few minutes. Playing a game and seeing a delay onscreen before my button press is recognised or having my playthrough stop for buffering would be hugely irritating and make it almost unplayable - but I'll hold judgement until I see the service first hand.

My second concern is that my broadband provider, like many others, imposes a cap on my downloads each month. Considering the amount of time I like to spend gaming a month and contributing to this very site, I wonder whether my provider will be sending me either some very strongly-worded emails insisting I restrict my usage, or a hefty bill because I've exceeded my quota.

Either way, Cloud gaming is looking promising and it's certainly something Megabits will be monitoring in 2012!

For more details, check out the official OnLive web site. Alternatively, take a look at a pretty decent article from The Guardian.

(Photo credit: Extra Medium)


cloud gaming is a joke with no pros for people who buy games

Onlive is basically a failure without making profit