Here at D8 there was one tech demo that stole the show. And that was OnLive, which is starting out as a cloud-based gaming service for Macs and PCs in two weeks but has the potential to be much, much more.
During the show OnLive founder and CEO Steve Perlman wowed the crowd by showing an intense 3D first-peson shooter being streamed over the Web to a MacBook, but also to a micro-console that makes your Wii look positively bloated and even an iPad. (The iPhone version flaked during the demo). The idea is that you can start playing a game, and then pick up where you left off on the device of your choice. And we noticed zero lag, although OnLive says you need to be within 1,000 miles of a data center (so far in Silicon Valley, Dallas and the Washington, D.C. area). That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Check out the gallery and more impressions below.
The OnLine service (originally announced at $15 per month but now expected to cost less) has a very slick video wall interface and is highly social, with the ability to spectate other gamers–with their permission–and to create brag clips of your own gameplay that you can share with others. So without question OnLive poses a threat to the Xbox, PlayStation 3, and Wii, if it’s executed well.
This service could also prove hugely disruptive to Apple’s iTunes or any other digital music and video service, including Netflix and Amazon on Demand. It also threatens mobile TV services like FLO TV and Mobile DTV. If the compression is as good as advertised, there might not be a need for broadcast. Although the company was not able to divulge content partners, Perlman showed how easily OnLive could handle a Harry Potter stream, which he played on the iPad but could have just as easily fired up on a PC, it’s tiny set-top box, or a phone.
Of course, there are plenty of other companies that are getting more aggressive with premium content and the cloud, including Apple (lala acquisition), and Gaikai, but we definitely like the idea of seamless access to games, movies, and more across all sorts of gadgets. First things first, though. Stay tuned for a review of the beta service for PCs and Macs.