OnLive is the Future


This is the future. Not so much now, but in the future.

  I believe that, within the next five years, OnLive will be the premiere way to purchase PC games. Within the next ten years it may be the ONLY way to purchase any PC games that aren’t indie productions. This will seem crazy to almost anyone out there, but just hang in there while I explain my reasoning.

PC gaming has seriously been hurt by piracy. Now I won’t go so far as to say that piracy is taking so much money away from PC game developers that they don’t feel it’s worth it to release PC games, but instead I imagine it’s the fear of piracy that permeates the business of video games. This fear causes most publishers to demand that any game they publish be heavily DRM’d, which costs a ton of money and does literally nothing. In fact, the best DRM they’ve come up with, Ubisoft’s “always need an internet connection” DRM, was cracked pretty quickly.

Publishers and developers aren’t the only problem either. It’s not just pirates that are costing the publishers and developers money, it’s the average user. How so? How much money do you suppose Ubisoft spent on their DRM service, including development, implementation, and server costs? Probably a lot more than they should have. How did the average gamer react? With fear, hate and distrust. I was one of these people, so I can’t exactly say it was an uncalled for action, but it did cost the publisher tons of money. More importantly it added to their belief that PC gaming was not a lucrative market. I mean hell, if they even try and prevent piracy their regular users will damn near riot.

So where does OnLive come into all this? OnLive is the PERFECT DRM service. If PC game publishers were smart they would be supporting OnLive with every ounce of their advertising money. Why? Think about the way OnLive works. Not only do you have to download a program, but you have to open OnLive to do anything. How is this different than Steam? I have Steam up and in the background at almost all times, but with OnLive I have to commit. The program opens full screen and immerses you in the experience a lot more than other PC game stores. Of course that’s a small part of it. Consider also the fact that it’s almost impossible to pirate a game if it was released only on OnLive. This isn’t a “you need an always on internet connection” DRM that you can hack and turn off. In fact, you have no files of the game on your PC and you never will. You would need to hack into their servers, change the files there, and somehow make sure they didn’t find out and just change it back. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I can’t see a way to pirate this on a large scale.

So we’ve effectively stopped PC piracy, given players an Always On DRM that they can’t really get mad about, and provided a great way to market a PC game, due to OnLives amazing “spectator” mode. So what’s the problem? Well first of all, no matter how good your computer is you can’t turn up the graphics. Given a big push from publishers and developers though people could learn to forgive this flaw. Would hardcore PC gamers be upset? Yes. Does any company care about hardcore gamers, let alone hardcore PC gamers? Probably not. The other problem is the lag. Now I’ve been playing OnLives free week of games (not all of them, just the ones available from there subscription service. That means mostly ‘meh’ ones right now) and I’ve rarely noticed any lag. When I do it’s usually a little choppy for a few seconds, and then I’m back to gaming. Of course I am limited as to what I can do in the background while I play. I mean I won’t be running torrents (another win for every industry), but I also won’t be downloading anything at all, which can be a serious pain.

In closing I think that, in the future, we will see OnLive or a service much like it rise up to take over mainstream PC gaming. Almost every company out there has given up on PC games in retail unless it’s a Blizzard game, so brick and mortar stores aren’t going to care. Within five years, if the industry is smart, OnLive will become the new console, turning the pain in the ass of developing for literally billions of different machines into a simple, one stop shop console experience that is almost impossible to pirate. Of course, to really kick this off they might have to work with the internet providers to possibly provide a “gamers tier” internet option where, for an extra $20 a month, you have a much better internet connection.

What’s the biggest problem with OnLive as I see it now though? Prices and selection. Their selection is alright and getting better, but their prices keep me from buying anything. They sell old games for full price, and they almost never have a sale. Even when they do it doesn’t come close to Steam’s sales. I know they don’t have the user base to be able to work those deals yet, but it really is a deal breaker for me. I mean I’m giving up my ability to play the game offline, or to change the graphics settings, and I’m ok with that. But if I’m paying full price for it, I might as well buy it from Steam with a huge discount and the ability to play offline.

What do you think? Have you tried OnLive at all? Now is the perfect time, as they are having a ‘free play’ week. Hop online and give it a shot, then tell me what you think in the comments.

The Humble Indie Bundle

This isn’t going to be a long post. I just got done with a 12 hour run of nothing but dungeon after dungeon and I can barely see straight. I just wanted to let everyone know about the Humble Indie Bundle. It’s a PAY WHAT YOU WANT!!!! offer that helps indie developers, but more importantly the two most important gaming/tech charities, Childs Play and The Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The games you get for this are


World of Goo






Lugaru HD


Penumbra Overture

I can only speak for World of Goo and Aquaria. It’d be worth it for either one, let alone both. Lugaru lets you play as a killer rabbit, so you’ve gotta love that. Penumbra Overture seems like a darker Myst style adventure game. No idea about Gish. YET. I’m heading to give them some money right now.

Remember IT’S PAY WHAT YOU WANT! DRM free! You can even choose to give all of the money to the charities, OR all to the developers! No publishers here either!

Please! If you have any interest, give them at least something. If all you can spare is a dollar, then do it. It’s better than nothing. But if you can spare more, well of course do what you can 🙂

Enough begging. Enjoy the games, I know I will.

Steam: A Monopoly

steam (1)

According to The Escapist and several other game journalist sites Steam is on the verge of a monopoly in the digital distribution of games. Consumers don’t want this, developers don’t want this, publishers don’t want this. In fact Valve is the only company who would enjoy it if they became the Walmart of digital game distribution, for a while at least.

The Walmart analogy doesn’t end there though. In the article they mention that Walmart has determined the size of PC game boxes. They refuse to stock them if they aren’t the dimensions that they have demanded, and this causes the gaming industry to meet their demands or lose billions.

Do you want to know another reason for which Steam is like Walmart? It’s because it’s the best out there for what it is. I can get almost anything at Walmart as long as I’m not worried about quality. Honestly I’m not a Q-Tip aficionado and I don’t care if there is a real quality $100 for 10 version, I just want some damn Q-Tips.

With Steam I can get any computer game I want, regardless of whether local stores have it “in stock” or not. I can get it at any time of the day or night, just like Walmart. Of course the same holds true for any digital distribution site, so why will I stick with Steam instead of trying out Direct2Drive or Impulse? The answer is simplicity and extras. With Steam I don’t have to load up my browser, go to their site, log in, look up what I want (if they haven’t decided not to carry it on principle *cough*Modern Warfare 2 *cough*) and then get it. I just click the little Steam icon and I am in a program where I can easily buy something OR launch my games.

The biggest thing for me though? Connecting with my friends and family. If I buy a game through steam I can IM people while in game, I can know if my friends are online, what they are playing and if they just bought a game I really like and if I should invite them to play it with me. And sure, Steam can load non-Steam games and allow some of that, but why would I not buy through Steam if their service is the best around? That’d be like refusing to buy a Mercedes because you can get a Honda Civic with an MP3 player, but the Mercedes costs the exact same in this case.

If Impulse and Direct2Drive want to compete then they need to offer me the same enjoyment I get from Steam, complete with achievements, social networking, video game news, an easy to navigate store, and then add in something I’m not expecting but really want because at this point they are so far behind they need to not only match Steam, but exceed it in order to draw me away.

I hope Steam does NOT get a monopoly. I hope this because competition breeds improvement and I want the best gaming experience possible.
Raptr Forum Signature

Is preventing piracy worth killing a market?


Congratulations are due to Ubisoft. As of today I haven’t heard of any confirmed cracks for Assassin’s Creed II (There are rumors, and there are counter rumors, and there are rumors that it is out there but is gimped in some way). Of course there was that small hiccup that prevented people from playing the game for over 12 hours, but that is a small price to pay to prevent piracy.

I had planned for this blog post to slam Ubisoft’s DRM, talk about how worthless it is and how even if it works people will boycott the games that have it and we will show Ubisoft that we won’t suffer broken products! Sadly I don’t think that this is the case at all.

I don’t believe that their addition of ridiculous DRM has hurt the games sales on the PC in any way. I also don’t believe that it has helped the sales, after all pirates probably aren’t going to buy your game anyway.

We won’t know for sure until sales figures come out but my guess is that the public has spoken. We may rail against all things DRM but it hasn’t stopped us from purchasing these games (I sadly bought it on the 360 long before I heard about the DRM included in the PC version. If I had known I never would have bought any copy). And don’t think that hearing about the PC’s DRM and deciding to get it on a console is going to “show” Ubisoft anything. They still got your money, and the money of thousands of other irate gamers.

We like to think that we stick to our guns and if a company does something terrible we won’t suffer their crap, but the truth of the matter is that Ubisoft games will continue to sell on PC and console, Activision games like Modern Warfare 3, 4, 5 and 6 (all coming in 2011 probably) will sell, and there is nothing we WILL do about it.

They called our bluff, smacked us in the face, and we will still come crawling back throwing money at them when the time comes. Well played Ubisoft, well played.

I’m going to go take a hot shower and debate changing my hobby from gaming to wood carving.