Have you ever wondered if digital distribution would really take off? When all forms of physical media would be virtually gone? Well the creators over at Onlive have taken that step and have gone beyond, right now! Onlive is a cloud based gaming service which will allow any PC or MAC to play high end PC titles. The service is made up of multiple data centers (High End PC’s) that will allow you to play one of the selected games remotely. It requires (as of now) an online connection … and thats pretty much it. We got a behind the scenes look at what could possibly be the future of gaming.
What I first noticed was the little box that was hooked up to an HDTV that we were playing on and the wireless controller that looked similar to an Xbox 360 controller. This was the companies Micro Console which they plan to release later this year. The Micro Console is basically made up of some computer chips that will simply draw the net connection of the service over to us. The overview menu of the service had different elements to it, all of which was streaming video feeds of sorts. Much like Xbox Live the service layouts a marketplace to purchase games, games you own, friends list that can be created, and games coming soon. Where it differs from everything else is the windows that say Arena and brag clips.
The Arena is a live Massive Spectating view into the entire OnLive services games that people are playing. It simultaneously streams players gameplay in realtime which you can then dive into and spectate it at full screen. Nothing has ever been done like this in the past and you can even rate clips or friend someone. This is honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen before and it does it so effortlessly, jumping in and out of clips takes no time. The Brag Clips section is also unique and will provide hours of entertainment once enough people really get the service going. These are clips that players have/will create, which will allow you to snip a 10 second clip of anything you were playing, on the fly. We’ve already witnessed tons of videos of players doing ridiculous and sometimes obscure moments they’ve had within a game.
Now the bread and butter of the service is without a doubt the gameplay and it delivers. We simply went into one of the games listed (Splinter Cell Conviction to be exact) and fired up the game. It took no time to load it was in 720p HD, 60 FPS and it looked almost perfect. Between the controller and the TV there was no noticeable lag what so ever and it worked great. What we are a little skeptical about is if it can achieve the perfect picture fidelity we get from consoles and higher end PC’s. What we mean by this is we’ve noticed that when you are playing or not playing a game the picture looks to be slightly grainy, like a streamed video and thats just it, its because it is streamed. It’s obvious that the more your connection hinders the quality will take a hit but what would be the perfect connection? Now with that said it is almost perfect and we’ll be looking to see if the service finds ways in perfecting it.
The games in themselves would always be up to date because patches will be done on the back end. Possibilities for map packs as well will be done in a similar fashion, letting players simply buy the unlock for it to be used. The thing I was most excited about was the fact that the software itself was MAC supported out the gate. All titles available for this aren’t even heard of for Mac but now it is. Making cross-play not an issue.
All in all everything worked exactly how it was suppose to. No lag, great picture quality, sound, unique menus and more. The service is in it’s beta stages right now and supports both MAC and PC. While it doesn’t support Wifi as of yet, it plans too. Can you imagine the future possibilities of the service? Taking something as small as a netbook to a hotel with a wired ethernet connection or possibly Wifi and firing up one of the most hardware intensive games like Crysis 2 in a snap! We can. Future implementations within TV’s, where all you do is plug in a USB controller? We believe this will undoubtedly be some part of the future of gaming and what we’ve witnessed is just the stepping stone of what’s in the pipeline for Onlive.