OnLive is a service that could completely change the way we play videogames, or at least add a new viable possibility.
When OnLive was first announced, it sounded great, but many of us probably weren't exactly sure how it would work. Now, every question you might have had and more have been answered in a presentation done by Steve Perlman, founder and CEO of OnLive, for Columbia University.
The accompanying video is the first of five parts available on YouTube, with the entire presentation lasting around 50 minutes. The basic premise of OnLive is that it can stream any game to virtually any device and allow you to play high-end games like Crysis at full settings with no lag. It might seem like a pipe dream, but after watching this presentation it looks like OnLive really could pull it off.
Perlman strikes me as anything but a snake-oil salesman, not only knowing everything about his product and what OnLive would have to do to succeed, but also a lot about games too. After reading about the OnLive executive team, there is a huge amount of pedigree and knowledge behind this product. Very importantly, Perlman says that OnLive is open to all types of payment models. Publishers would see more money by putting their games on OnLive rather than selling them through physical stores, and the service could work exactly like Steam or be even more flexible.
The only sticking point I see is in the controller situation. To reduce latency, OnLive will require its own controllers, as those made by Microsoft or Sony use a protocol that mucks up the works as more and more are added to a game. I would have no problem with this as long as it were still possible to use more unique controllers like Wii Remotes, albeit OnLive versions.
Even if OnLive doesn't work for games with motion control, which I don't see as the future of gaming anyway, OnLive could be a true epiphany for the videogame industry. It could eliminate the need to buy new consoles, and maybe just new controllers instead. Forget about upgrading your PC, OnLive will upgrade its servers and you reap the benefits. Publishers will pull in more money through OnLive, which is better for everyone. Plus, the evil dark lords of GameStop could finally be defeated! Okay, maybe the last one is sort of a joke, but the situation in videogame retail today is far from ideal, so anything that could shake that up wouldn't be a bad thing. I don't think OnLive will bug you to subscribe to a magazine and reserve games every time you turn it on.
Here are parts two through five: