Skepticism Catches Up to Cloud Gaming

By  |  Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 3:34 pm

cloudgamingWhen OnLive revealed its plans last week for a streaming computer game service, it was hard to pick out the criticism with all the buzz in the air. Admittedly, I didn’t bother to question the service’s technical feasibility (I’m still fixated on whether OnLive can really compete on pricing), but now that the dust has settled, there’s plenty of skepticism to go around.

If you missed it, OnLive is supposed to stream high-end PC games to practically any computer with an Internet connection. It does this by handling all the processing on its own servers, and then sending packets of compressed data to the player. A day after OnLive’s unveiling, former Acclaim creative director Dave Perry announced a similar service, called Gaikai.

Shortly after OnLive’s big reveal, an article in Eurogamer challenged the service on processing power and compression abilities. At one point, the article claims OnLive would have to run games at 1,000 frames per second to achieve its claims of 1 ms latency. A video encoding specialist literally laughed out loud when Eurogamer described OnLive’s plans. Still, OnLive is supposedly using new technology, so I’m a little wary of Eurogamer’s argument myself. OnLive founder Steve Perlman told the BBC that Eurogamer wrote “a very ignorant article” that improperly conflates framerate and latency.

Now, a new nugget of doubt has arrived. Crytek, the company behind PC gaming’s gold standard, Crysis, said its own research found that cloud gaming won’t be feasible until 2013. OnLive is scheduled to launch later this year. “They have to provide fast bandwidths and connectivity in order to allow such technology to excel,” CEO Cevat Yerli told “So as it was dependent on somebody else, we decided to wait.”

On a related note, Business Insider’s Eric Kangel wonders whether cloud gaming will die if Internet service providers adopt bandwidth caps. Certainly, the dollar per gigabyte model that Time Warner Cable is testing in some cities could make the cost of OnLive and Gaikai spiral out of control.

All of this reinforces what skeptics have been saying all along: Successful tech demos and a bundle of licensing agreements with publishers only go so far. Eventually, cloud gaming will simply have to prove itself in the field.


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11 Comments For This Post

  1. dreamhunk Says:

    It can work in some countires, the fact there is cloude gaming is out of the bag more companies will want to do it. Even sony just bought the rights for a ps cloude gaming rights.

    Then there is flashing gaming they can compete with onlive if it ever takes off.

    either way gaming is going to change in a matter of a few years.

  2. dreamhunk Says:

    By the way if I was the owner of onlive I would go to apple,at&T,google to invest in this product. I would also improve the tech until it’s cheaper and better until the net is ready use because none of the console maker will be ablee to compete.

    If I was apple,at&t or google I would buy the system.

  3. dreamhunk Says:

    here is a link by the way change is coming

  4. Jared Newman Says:


    To your second point, I read (can’t recall where) that OnLive has the right idea by getting in on the ground floor now. But I disagree with the hype that console makers are in trouble.

    For me, the question of pricing is still a major hang-up. I’m guessing the service will cost around $20 per month, and while that’s fair enough to attract “hardcore” players, I think it will scare away the Wii audience that buys a console and a game every once in while. They won’t want to be locked in to monthly fees.

    Not saying cloud gaming can’t succeed — if it works from a technical standpoint, even — but for now the claims that it will kill the console seem overblown.

  5. OnLive Forum Says:

    The technology powering OnLive is far from perfect obviously. Cloud gaming is very new and I don’t expect anyone to come up with the best solution yet. I am still very excited about OnLive and I am happy that they are leading the way in innovating the gaming industry.

  6. dreamhunk Says:

    you want to know consoles will die!

    here I will give you some reasons

    the ps3 can be pirated

    the xbox 360 can be pirated

    all of nintendo games can be pirated

    that is the very reason that consoles is going to die. Not only that the pc is the ulimate tool man has ever made!

    pc gamers and pc gaming have adapted from retail when we get treated like dirt

    we are now going to adapted away from big business like micro soft and sony.

  7. Jared Newman Says:

    Can’t PC games be pirated?

  8. dreamhunk Says:

    well didn’t the game devs say they need to move to console because of piracy? Epic games and lionhead made a big stink about it.

    gears of war not coming to the pc because of pricay. well could gaming will get rid of pircay once and for all!

    and look what happened

    so your consoles will be gone soon!

  9. dreamhunk Says:

    oh here is another link more companies in the action

  10. Onlive Forums Says:

    Once the beta comes out later this year, we should know once and for all if this is going to succeed – I really hope it does! Even if people don’t want to subscribe, I can see this taking off as a great way to provide game demos.

  11. stories Says:

    yes there are already pirates of games in our city sold in the black market