Interesting. Basically this is cloud gaming. I am curious to find out how good the performance is and if the economics work in its favor.
The news on everybody’s minds is OnLive, a games service which is roughly comparable to a streaming movie service like Netflix On Demand or what have you. The hardware is to be free, and it will support any USB- or Bluetooth-compatible controllers. Purchased games are run in datacenters (on state of the art hardware, we hope), which then push the content out to you. But they’re not sending game assets — they send a video image of the game as you play it on their machine. It sounds ridiculous, but with good, local servers they can get the ping under 10-20ms, at which point it is almost unnoticeable that the game you’re playing is actually a few cities away. Not everyone is so optimistic.
We gave it a shot, and (my driving skills notwithstanding) had no trouble in the form of video artifacts, skipped frames, or lag. Impressive, but the proof of the pudding is in the launching, and when they can provide this level of latency and reliability to thousands of people scattered around the country simultaneously, then we’ll talk. After the demo, we spoke with a more technically-orientated booth guy, who said that between 3 and 4Mbit/s is what they’re aiming for with their 720p60 stream, and when I asked about tension with ISPs, he hinted cryptically that they had that under control. I just hope Comcast and the like haven’t “overbooked” their cable and fiber the way airlines do flights.