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Eurogamer Expo 2011: Why OnLive Blew My Mind

by on September 27, 2011

Spending an hour with Bruce Grove, the Director of Strategic Relations for OnLive was the best thing I did at Eurogamer Expo 2011. The man is a gentleman for sure, but he’s also inspiring to listen to, as well as being a gamer himself he’s a man with a vision, who wants to help create something special, for everyone who enjoys gaming.

Rather than rehash our entire presentation (which you’ll be able to listen to very soon), I want to talk personally about why OnLive, and the future according to Bruce excited me so much. There’s so much information to absorb right now, with OnLive having just been launched in Europe, I want to focus on some of the things that blew my mind, and some of the things that are coming in the future for the service.

Dual Logins, and how it could change co-operative gaming forever.

With OnLive, as you all probably already know, you can use the OnLive box itself to log in to your account and play games, but you can also log in to a PC, tablet, Mac… pretty much anything with an internet connection. However, what people may not know is that you can log in to more than one device at the same time.

Imagine the scenario; you and a friend are playing a co-op game, both of you sat somewhere apart from one another in the world – playing on a 40″ HDTV with the OnLive Micro Console. Your pal says (over any bluetooth headset that OnLive recognises) “I’m stuck mate, I don’t know what to do”. In the old, archaic days of console gaming (tongue firmly in cheek folks, calm down) you could talk him through it via the aforementioned headset. But with OnLive, you could pick up your iPad (other tablets are available), log in a second time and literally watch what he is doing, and talk him through it, whilst watching him do it, and whilst contuining your own part of the co-op situation. Mind blown? It bloody should be.

Thankfully there are privacy settings, because otherwise we’d all be playing Generic FPS #119 online and using our tablets to watch our opponents. It is an option, and here’s a well kept secret – options are good!

OnLive on an iPad, and future possibilities.

At this moment in time, you can log into OnLive with an iPad, watch clips of people (brag clips) or watch live gaming. You can do everything apart from play a game. The future though, looks a little bit different.

Bruce started telling us all about the universal controller that will be released in the future. First of all, it will work with Macs. It will also work with iPads. Again, mind blown. As Bruce is telling us about this new controller, our minds are already formulating the possibilies; on a train with an iPad and a universal OnLive controller, with wi-fi, playing the latest in gaming entertainment. Even better though, developers are starting to include touch control support for games, as Ubisoft have done with From Dust, meaning that the game is released in a state not only to play using OnLive, but to play on a touch device using OnLive.

But there’s more. The future for OnLive is for the consumer to not even need the box that is currently available. The future will see OnLive be integrated into televisions from the get go, meaning all you need to do is have a free OnLive account and an internet connection, which you wire into the television – and you’re off.

On the subject of games, of course first party support is something that on the face of it, would seem impossible. However, the folks at OnLive want to create a vast library, indeed the ultimate library, of games for their customers. They refuse to say never, but understand that having Mario on their service is extremely unlikely. They are however, bringing older games onto the service.

To celebrate Deus Ex: Human Revolution, they decided to bring the original title to the service, which you can of course play with mouse and keyboard as intended. More than that though, they have their own dev-team which works on fixing any bugs or issues with older games, trying to optimise the older titles for the new OnLive service and controller.

Options are good, remember?

Why is all of this revolutionary you ask? Well it isn’t, but it creates options for the end user, the gamer. Of course you don’t need to play OnLive on an iPad on a train with a controller, but you don’t need that HDTV and super fast internet connection to breath in and out. Options are good, and OnLive comes with them in abundance.

Everything is dependant on the quality of the internet connection, and over here in Blighty they are more than aware that the infrastructure is still growing. OnLive aren’t arrogant, they don’t consider themselves in the same category as Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo right now, they are aware that as the UK’s internet connections improve, the service will improve dramatically.

There is so much potential with OnLive, Bruce talked about a feature they have that isn’t currently active – a version of remote play if you will. If your friend is literally stuck in a game, they can surrender control to you, to help them.

Honestly though, even as I sit here writing this I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of what OnLive has to offer, what it can be and what it already is. It is as much about a community, a social experience as anything else, and on the face of it, OnLive is extremely exciting.

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  • September 27, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I was lucky enough to attend this interview (audio file impending), and I totally concur.

    I’m not only impressed by the features that OnLive has launched with, but the future plans and potential are just immense – it took me a while to get my head around them.

    The #6.99 PlayPack features over 100 games, including some recent AAA titles. You can plug an Xbox 360 controller into the Micro Console, be it wired or wireless with pc-adapter. Even further than that, you can plug in a wireless (or wired) USB mouse and keyboard, to play more seriously.

    Top titles that aren’t in the PlayPack usually feature a Free Trial. This trial lasts for 30 minutes, but if you purchase the game at any point after your trial, you’ll be able to pick up exactly where you left off. It’s the small things that really make a difference!
    The fact that in the future, you’ll be able to grab your tablet of choice and the new Universal Wireless OnLive Controller, and play ‘proper’ core games on the move, is just astonishing.

    As Adam mentioned, OnLive is going to enhace cooperative gameplay tremendously. Being able to view a friend’s screen, not only on multiple devices, but also picture-in-picture, and then being given the choice to take control for your friend at certain points. I’m reminded of an old MGS game, where players had to plug their controller into the Player 2 port – imagine a COOP game where you and a friend had to switch places for  a moment. The possibilities are endless.

    Another great point Bruce mentioned, is that games that are usually LAN-based, or have local coop/multiplayer options, will be playable over OnLive, because everyone’s playing the game from the same data centres – essentially we’re all on one giant LAN.

    This technology is not only going to change the way we play games, but where we play them and who we play them with.


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