Moving with the times
Amid all the motion-sensitive and 3D innovations at the E3 computer games fest, possibly the most significant launch of all will be that of OnLive, the much-anticipated cloud gaming service, which will be activated tomorrow.
The OnLive service has been in development for eight years and was first unveiled a year ago. It's called a cloud gaming service because everything about the game is hosted on remote servers. All you need to do is select (and, presumably pay for) a game, and you can start playing via a browser immediately. There's also a ‘micro-console' to enable it on a TV.
This innovation is not only significant as a new way of accessing games, and as a great exemplar of cloud computing, but for its potential impact on the PC and console industries. The whole point of this service, you see, is that all the processing, rendering, etc is done on the remote servers. So, in principle, there will no longer be the need for anything but the most basic PC and consoles could be rendered completely obsolete.
Of course Internet connections are going to have to be a lot better than they are now if OnLive is to deliver FPS gaming with all the bells and whistles, as demanded by enthusiast gamers, but the portents are there for the PC industry.
Perhaps that's why Dell has seen fit to issue a press release boasting that OnLive made a major deployment of custom-engineered Dell servers for its initial rollout. It will apparently be one of the largest installations of GPU-powered servers to date, although Dell's not revealing who makes the GPUs.
"Dell has been an outstanding partner, working closely with our engineers to design servers to our exact specifications and business needs, incorporating patented and patent-pending OnLive technology," said Steve Perlman, Founder and CEO of OnLive. "Dell has the expertise and mechanisms in place that enable us to quickly ramp up to a mass-market scale for the delivery of the hottest games instantly through the Internet to gamers anywhere on a PC, Mac, TV and other devices."
Here's the full list of games that will initially be available on the service:
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Assassin's Creed II (Ubisoft)
Batman: Arkham Asylum (Square Enix / Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
Borderlands (Take Two Interactive Entertainment)
Brain Challenge (Gameloft)
Defense Grid: Gold (Hidden Path)
Dirt 2 (Codemasters)
Dragon Age: Origins (Electronic Arts)
FEAR 2: Project Origin (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
Just Cause 2 (Square Enix)
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment) demo now full version available at official launch 6/29
Madballs in Babo: Invasion (Playbrains)
Mass Effect 2 (Electronic Arts)
MLB 2K10 (2K Sports)
NBA 2K10 (Take Two Interactive Entertainment)
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Ubisoft)
Puzzle Chronicles (Konami)
Red Faction Guerrilla (THQ)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction (Ubisoft)
Unreal Tournament III (Epic)
World of Goo (2DBoy)