By Evan Ackerman
This unassuming little box could possibly be the future of PC gaming as we know it. If you’re much of a gamer, you know what the problem is: a couple days after you spend a grand or two on a decent gaming computer, the next generation of hardware comes out and your system is outdated and slow. The solution offered by OnLive could be a great one, if it works… Just outsource all your gaming hardware over the internet, and you’ll never have to worry about upgrades again.
It’s an awesome concept: why dump a bunch of money into a personal gaming computer when you can run your games on a beastly server that someone else pays for? Of course, it all depends on you being able to play your game on the aforementioned beastly server, which necessarily has to happen over the internet… You transmit your control inputs, and then you receive compressed video of the gameplay while OnLive’s servers do all of the graphics heavy lifting. OnLive says that a 1.5 MBPS connection will let you play games at standard definition with a lag of 2 milliseconds, including video decompression. A 5 MBPS connection can get you 720p at up to 60fps, which again is totally independent of the hardware requirements of the game you’re playing and entirely independent on your internet connection.
It’s not just that you don’t need great hardware, you can also use the OnLive system on totally crappy hardware. Or on no hardware; it’ll happily hook up to your TV with the aid of a cheap little peripheral that you can plug controllers into. The whole system will be probably be set up as a subscription model kinda like XBox Live, and it’s currently undergoing beta testing with a launch sometime later this year.