Welcome to the very 1st edition of IMHO. This is a new feature we’re going to showcase whenever we get the opportunity to talk about something big happening in the game industry. We also invite all of you, the readers, to weigh in with your comments as we’ll be posting a podcast where the article author and the rest of the writers here at Feed Your Console will discuss and debate the topic at hand. We’ll even be sure to touch base with some of your comments. Without further ado…

Could today be the day that the future of home gaming became a reality? OnLive Inc. certainly seems to think and hope so. Today OnLive Inc. announced that their new gaming service aptly named “OnLive Game Service” was coming to a home near you sometime later this year. Instead of picking up a bulky console, all you need is a small and svelte looking little box that looks to be no larger than a handheld gaming device. The hardware has USB (to work with any USB controller – Xbox controllers included), HDMI, Optical Audio, BluTooth (for wireless communication) and Ethernet. The only thing you really need to provide is an internet connection.

The premise behind the system is to do away with conventional game stores and conventional console hardware by allowing the user to either buy or rent games digitally where the games run and play on a series of servers streamed to your TV all with out any extra hardware. If you’re a PC user, fear not. The service will be available to you too. Gone are the days of costly PC upgrades. They claim that they’ll be upgrading their servers about every 6 months to use the latest and greatest technologies.

This isn’t a new idea as evidenced by the previous attempt by Infinium Labs and their “Phantom” console a few years ago. The real question is: Are gamers ready for this?

OnLive appears to seem to be doing a lot of things right by getting all of the right features in place and getting some big publishers like EA, Take-Two and UbiSoft on board. No doubt they love the implications that there won’t be any software piracy and they could potentially cut costs on discs, packaging and manual printing.

While I’m extremely intrigued by the idea of never having to wait in line for software on cold November nights, going out to the local Blockbuster or even worrying about lack of hard disk space on my console, but a few things jumped out at us right away when I was learning more about the OnLive service.

  1. No cost information has been announced. The heavy expense of upgrading all those servers on a bi-annual basis won’t be cheap and neither will the bandwidth required to push out all that data at the same time which leads me to believe that the cost for all this convenience will be rather high.
  2. I’m not so sure that gamers are ready to give up their shiny discs just yet. They are afterall, kind of like trophies to those of us who collect games.
  3. I want my games in HD. They claim that the games will be HD but the speed of your internet connection is going to require at least a 5MB connection – Some can’t afford that or don’t have the availability of broadband connections at that speed.
  4. Some providers throttle traffic which would no doubt affect game play to some degree (they claim that the connection will optimize itself on the fly)
  5. More and more net providers are using capped systems to curb usage and piracy. What’s a typical game marathon cost a user in throughput? I’m fairly certain that it won’t be astronomical but you are streaming video so it won’t be as small as the packets we see now with Live or PSN.

This is something I would really like to see. Is it possible that Microsoft or Sony was working on something similar to this for the next round of consoles and these guys got the jump on them? There are just too many unknowns about this service. Do I think the idea is cool? You’re damn right I do. Do I want to play with this service and give it a fair shake? Hell yes. Do I think it’s going to work? It’s too early to say for sure. The potential is definitely there, I’m are just not completely sold on this idea yet and am hesitant to think that gamers are prepared for such a dramatic change.

What do the rest of you folks think about this?