Today Steve Perlman, of Quicktime and WebTV fame, gave the EmTech audience a peak at his newest creation: an on-demand videogame service called OnLive.
Here’s the gist: OnLive offers users anytime anywhere access to the latest videogames through their computers (Mac or PC) or television. Because all of the computing is done on OnLive’s servers, a user can still enjoy the fast-paced action and beautifully rendered graphics associated with high-end game machines or a gaming-optimized computer from Alienware, even if they’re accessing the service from a low-end laptop.
Perlman, of course, has launched some big-idea start-ups (let’s deliver the Web to televisions!) that didn’t exactly thrive. Will OnLive?
Like Apple's iTunes store, OnLive aims to shake up the standard distribution system. Will it work?
Well there are some advantages for publishers: no worry of piracy or second-hand sales, a problem associated with game CDs. The downside: they can't sell upgrades, though presumably publishers are skimming enough off the top of the monthly fee or some OnLive licensing deal that they are able to make up the difference.
And gamers should like it too: For starters, they can play any game, knowing that it will always be the newest version because they are always accessing the latest software from the OnLive cloud. And they won't need to kick out hundreds of dollars for the latest X-Box or Playstation that can only play games written for its system and will need to be upgraded (ie, replaced) in a couple of years.
I'm not a serious gamer (as any gamers reading this post can tell) but I've long believed that the technologies developed for the gaming industry could and would ripple through other industries. That happened long ago as videogame software was adapted for the movie industry, and it's now happening with military and other training. But that sense of the broader implications of gaming technologies was born out in the Q&A. What are the implications of this technology for training first respondents? How could it be used in the health care industry or in schools?
I'm curious to here your thoughts about OnLive's future and the potential to apply the technology to other industries.