Posted tagged ‘OnLive’

OnLive is the Future

January 15, 2011

OnLive1

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.

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Piracy is Killing PC Gaming! Abandon Ship!

August 14, 2010

happilydyingsince1985

The biggest excuse most people and developers are using for abandoning the PC is piracy. They claim that piracy is destroying their profits and running entire companies out of business. I am here to tell you that this is 100% true.

Take Modern Warfare 2, one of the biggest releases in recent years. According to Kotaku Modern Warfare 2 sold 6 MILLION copies on the PS3 and Xbox 360 in it’s first month. The PC helped contribute to that, selling 170,000 copies in one month. Not surprising that it’s so low, as most people I knew with a PC AND a console inexplicably decided to go with the not as good console controls. The point however is that the PC version of Modern Warfare 2 sold 170,000 copies on the PC AFTER it announced that it would not have dedicated servers, and would cost more than the average $40 PC gamers are used to.

Now imagine just how many PC sales there would have been if it had been a PC exclusive. Not quite 6 million in it’s first month surely, but assuredly enough to stay in business. If RPG developers can make a polished 80+ hour game and make a profit with a quarter of those sales, then I think Infinity Ward would have been fine selling  170,000 copies of their five hour long single player game, and six or so maps.

But that was a year ago now, and of course piracy has gotten worse. It’s getting close to PC gaming just dying, and as proof I give you Blizzards Starcraft II. It only sold 1 million copies in its first day according to PCWorld. Let’s be clear, in one day Starcraft II sold 1 MILLION COPIES. That is at $60 a copy on the PC. Even if Starcraft II stopped selling ANY copies after one day they’ve probably made a nice profit. Of course they didn’t, and Blizzard believes it will reach 7 million by the end of their fiscal year, gaining $350 million in sales.

These two are gaming powerhouses of course and I’m sure people will point that out. They might even point out that smaller indie developers have a hard time selling enough copies to stay in business. Of course, that is how gaming has ALWAYS been. Sure, there are indie games out there that are worth $10 or $15, but it’s hard to track them down. It’s much easier on a console, such as Xbox Live Arcade. Of course, this is solved by making the PC MORE like a console, which is exactly what Steam does.

Steam makes it harder to pirate but not impossible by any means, it is a condensed store where indie developers can get exposure just like a console, and it allows games to add achievements and a community. Another thing that might help the PC industry is OnLive. OnLive seriously is a console with a PC interface when you think about it, and I think the industry might be better off forcing OnLive down our throats. It would kill the traditional view of PC gaming because OnLive would keep their hardware all the same until they did a mass upgrade, just like consoles. Is that what I want? I’m fine with it. I’ve played several hours of OnLive gaming and it’s been a very pleasant experience. It’s not like I’m rich so I can’t upgrade my graphics card to a $400 card every other month, so OnLive controlling the PC gaming market would make me pretty happy. Besides, we don’t need to concentrate on better graphics at this point, they are already pretty amazing. It might be time to work on selling PC gamers “Logic Cards” and program game AI to be smarter than a brain injured drunken bear.

In short: Make good games and people will buy them. Will far more people pirate them? Yes. Would those people have bought the game anyway? No. You can’t say “We have an 80% piracy rate” and not be misleading. Out of those 80%, perhaps only 2% would have actually bought the game in the first place. In truth the industry has no idea how much piracy is truly effecting sales, and they need to stop throwing around numbers that even they don’t understand.

OnLive: Apply Directly to the Laptop

June 26, 2010

OnLive1

I added my name to the waiting list for the free Founders Year of OnLive not expecting to get in, but when I woke up this morning there was a nice little gift in my email. I am now a founding member of OnLive, and as such I have a free year of the service.

For those that don’t know it works like this: You still purchase all of the games you want at full price, except you HAVE to buy them through OnLive. This means that at some point they will be unplayable (not a real problem, they guarantee the game for a few years, and then if might go away. But if I honestly love a game that much, I’ll just ebay it in five years if I want to play again. It also means that you have to be connected to the internet in order to play the game.

Anyone who knows me or has followed this blog knows that I hate DRM, and especially stupid DRM that forces you to be always on the internet (a-la Ubisoft). So why am I ok with this service? Well to understand that I need to post the spec’s of my laptop.

This is my laptop. For those unwilling to check that site for the specs they are as follows:

Intel Pentium M 720. 2ghz

Ram: 1GB

Graphics Processor: Intel GMA 900 Dynamic Video Memory Technology 3.0.    Video Memory: 128mb

That is the important stuff. Anybody that knows anything about computers knows that this laptop is old and useless. I can’t even START World of Warcraft because it doesn’t have the capability to handle 3D. Not only that but it literally struggles just opening folders at this point. Websites load faster than the web browser itself, and even old 2D games like Diablo are unplayable due to the jittery way I have to play.

I basically keep this laptop around for when my, or my wife’s, computer explodes and we need something to surf the internet on. It is also used for bathroom entertainment, if you catch my meaning.

So after I messed around with OnLive on my main computer I decided to try it on my Laptop just to see if it was viable.I installed it and discovered that you can’t use it over WiFi, which I  guess kind of figures, so I plugged the laptop in and loaded up Assassins Creed II.

It didn’t look as good as I remember on the 360 (it could just be a bad PC port) but it ran decently. Not perfectly smooth, but considering the program barely runs and my computer is below specs CPU wise, it did a stellar job. More importantly it may be enough for get me to buy my games through OnLive from now on (if they get them).

It ran pretty well on my main PC as well. Again, not perfectly smooth but smooth enough that I rarely noticed. Add to that the fact that my internet is REALLY unstable and cuts out often, and the service really impressed me.

If you can get into the free founders year I suggest trying it out. They have “Demos” of all the games on their service, which is a free 30 minutes of play time on the game. That’s what I’ve been messing around with, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.