Saturday, 3 March 2012

OnLive & The Cloud

My recent experiences with OnLive have sparked a discussion on the nature of "The Cloud".

More and more the world is moving toward digital distribution of media. Spotify and iTunes are perfect examples of this. People all over the world now download or stream their music, walking around with literal days of music in their pockets. Actually owning physical copies of all the music you want/have is impractical. An iPod Nano can hold an entire cd rack of albums in a space of a mini disc (remember those?).

Providers like Apple and Amazon have been hugely successful in part due to their product model. You pay upfront and get unlimited access to your media which you "own". Spotify on the other hand is a service provider, you listen to music but you do not buy music through them. You cannot in anyway claim to own the music you "rent" from them. Neither can you expect to listen to it without an internet connection. However all this works as you can literally pay nothing to use the service.

OnLive has attempted to merge these models to what I see as limited success. You either use OnLive as a service provider like Spotify, but you have to pay to have any access to full games and you require a really good internet connection. The makers themselves recommend you use a wired connection and during peak periods game performance can really suffer.

Paying upfront for the full game doesn't really help either, as you cannot download the game to play when you want, irregardless of whether you have an internet connection. In terms of this model, I think what Valve has done with Steam is pretty much the gold standard. Once you buy a game, it is tied to your account and you can play it anywhere you have it installed. This is what the Cloud should be, ubiquitous, always there for you and to suit your needs.

So to conclude these jumbled thoughts, I definitely think OnLive has a lot of plus points but its much better suited to the world of tomorrow, where high-speed internet is accessible everywhere on the go. If you haven't got a high-end PC or the latest games console, this is definitely a great way to access the latest and greatest games out there.

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