By now you’ve probably seen the news about OnLive, the new “cloud game computer” that streams a game to your TV/PC in real time from a server. (It’s basically the PS3 “Remote Play” technology done on a grand HD scale). The technology is impressive over a good broadband connection for the PC, Mac, or via a “microconsole” that hooks up to a TV.
But could OnLive work on a gaming console? That’s a question I posed last week to Steve Perlman, the founder. His answer? Yes, OnLive could work on PS3 and Xbox 360 with no additional hardware required. You’d just have to download a small client on Xbox Live, and then “stream” games to your 360 much like Netflix streams movies.
Since Perlman has a previous relationship to Microsoft (he sold WebTV to them), I asked if he’d approached Xbox with the idea. Nope, he said. OnLive hasn’t spoken to Microsoft or Sony. In fact he expects execs at both companies to be shocked by the announcement.
While OnLive certainly doesn’t need the power of the PS3 or 360, adding this as a “service” on top of an existing console platform might be the gateway OnLive needs to reach a wider audience. (Nothing would prevent them from releasing their “microconsole” as well, which is expected to be quite inexpensive). Partnering with a console would also help OnLive with one of its biggest challenges: Marketing and distribution.
Of course the bigger question is whether Microsoft or Sony would ever allow such a service on their respective platforms — or see it as a huge threat. If OnLive works on the Xbox 360 or PS3, it would, in effect, make a “PS4″ or “Xbox 1080″ pointless. But as the old saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer? If Xbox was to buy the 100-patent-strong technology, it could make “cloud computing” only possible on the 360 or PC. Or even release a dirt-cheap Xbox “Microconsole.”
Part of me wonders if we will ever see “OnLive” hit the market in its current form, or if we’re witnessing the birth of the $49 Xbox and we just don’t know it.