[/float]Just as we’ve gotten used to dedicated consoles as an alternative to PC’s for playing ‘computer games’, could it be that the rug is about to be pulled from under the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo?
BT has signed a deal with OnLive, a so-called cloud-gaming firm, their idea being that consoles are a thing of the past and games should be played on hosted (cloud based) servers and the game experience delivered directly to the player’s screen without the need for a console.
Now, before you laugh (I did!) BT are already talking about rolling out 20Mbit based copper broadband, and over the last couple of days have announced they will be providing fiber connections to residential customers in urban locations at 100Mbit(+) speeds. They are proposing that the game output would be transmitted to the player as a video stream, and even at full HD (1080p) this is only 5Mbit/sec … so you would end up with zero latency between players (everyone is playing on the same server), and assuming no broadband faults or traffic problems, perfectly smooth HD displays. It sort of sounds feasible (!)
“What about the games ?”
Apparently OnLine already have Metro 2033, Mass Effect 2 and Borderlands in their catalogue … all fairly respectable games!
Note; for this sort of setup there’s a hell of a lot of scope for processing game output using dedicated / custom ASIC chips which means high spec graphics chipsets and egg-frying consoles would be a thing of the past. As the owner of 4 defunct XBox units, this can’t be all bad!
Will be interesting to see if this takes off, but OnLive have been pushing this idea for ages now and nothing much has happened, and I seem to remember them saying “we’re about to do a big deal” a few times in the past… I’m not convinced by it, but I’m happy to be proven wrong.
An article I read about a year ago gives some fairly convincing arguments as to why this won’t work:
I think connection speeds are going in the right direction, but the sheer horsepower needed for the graphics and compression of say a million connections is at present and for the foreseeable future beyond centralization… Considering the idea has been around for a while now, I figure if it was possible it would already be part of Xbox Live, Redmond have been trying to get you to buy all your games through them for ages… Fits perfectly with their “Market Domination” philosophy.
I didn’t mean that the deal with BT won’t go through, I wonder how much a 2.6% shareholding is going to cost them… I wouldn’t think much more than an advertising campaign… seems more like a gimmick to me though, on the back of which BT will hope to sell more BT Vision boxes… I just reckon that ATM the cost of hardware that would be up to the job would be prohibitively expensive and if the idea was viable, M$ would have “appropriated”/bought/sabotaged it… as is their way.
Sony on the other hand would simply ignore the competition, continue to tell everyone that the PS4 will be better, release it a year late, over priced… and then proceed to remove its ability to play games.
The idea is one you could easily buy into… High end games on a cheap a** laptop etc… who doesn’t want that to come true.