OnLive – Coming to Xbox 360 or PS3? It’s Possible

blog-onliveBy 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.

7 Responses to “OnLive – Coming to Xbox 360 or PS3? It’s Possible”

  1. Grind_Axis Says:

    This could either turn out very well, or very bad… the ball’s in Sony/Microsoft’s court.

  2. Aaron Miller Says:

    Sadly, another possibility is that Microsoft or Sony will purchase the patent and then not use it. Companies have been known to buy technology with no intention of using it, just to prevent it from becoming competition.

    Aside from that, though, it seems inevitable that MS and Sony will eventually have to compete with that service or a similar one. So either the execs will willfully deny reality, as sometimes happens, or they’ll figure out a way to fit it into their console plans. However that’s done, I expect it would mean a shift of emphasis toward software.

    I doubt this spells doom for separate consoles, though. Look at PCs and Macs, cellphones, iPhones and Blackberrys, iPods and Zunes… hell, look at cars! Competing hardware often offer the same essential features, but the hardware competition remains viable due to brand loyalty, aesthetics, etc. We’ll always have competing consoles.

  3. Dawna Says:

    Hey Geoff, I recently wrote about this topic myself. OnLive seems like a great innovation in games but I don’t think it will catch on thanks to corporate behemoths that refuse to give up on their profits. Microsoft and Sony’s participation in this new wave is what will ultimately make it work or fail.

  4. Ray Says:

    This is going to make an awesome tech demo in a controlled environment. But with the realities of broadband latency out in the real world, only a tiny fraction of potential customers will have the performance and latency necessary to make OnLive a good experience.

    Someday Perlman and Ellison will be sitting in a retirement home, discussing the cloud computing/gaming future that never came to be.

  5. Julikator Says:

    Blizzard’s already doing this with the WoW 10 days trial, i wonder what patent rights they own. ^^

    If this gets as much hype as possible even before the beta starts it really could be a revolution, yet i dont think that big companies like Activision Blizzard will jump on the train. They would rather invent their own service, same for Sony and Nintendo. I dont think Sony would give up on Blu-ray games, not in this generation. And if Nintedo stays on their kid-oriented console strategy, theres no way they would be part of all this.
    There’s also the problem of payment, you’d have to be 18+ or know someone who would buy it for you. This would give parents an easier method of watching what games their kids play. OnLive could kill game stores as well ;)

    And about pirating, the only possibility for a company to prevent pirating with this method would be to release the games 100% on OnLive, no retailers. This also is a huge problem when you consider world wide distribution. If this works though, im all for it.

    I hope this works.

  6. DazT Says:

    This could be exactly what MS or Sony would like to purchase. They both lose shed loads of money on consoles, with this they wouldn’t need to. The whole game being stored in the “Cloud” with a cheap input/output box sold with a controller.

    It could be great but i feel it needs a big name behind it to make it work!

  7. Dexter Says:

    If I were Sony or Microsoft, I’d try to make the technology work without the need for a PC. When they do, this thing has limitless potential.

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