OnLive: Fight the Future, Protect the Past.


Years ago, the public was introduced to something called the SEGA channel. It was a connection that hooked up to the SEGA Genesis and for a monthly fee you could load games to your console through the cable line. It failed hard. It seemed that people didn’t like the idea of paying for games that they didn’t get to own. But now with the digital age, (where people seem perfectly fine with paying money for products they never hold) the concept is coming back.

For the past seven years WebTV founder Steve Perlman and former Eidos CEO Mike McGarvey have been working on what they believe is the future of video games. It’s called OnLive and it’s a way of streaming video games right into your home. Using Windows XP, Vista , or a converter box for your TV, you can play top notch games from Electronic Arts, Take-Two, Ubisoft, and Atari.

All you need is a broadband connection (1.5 Mbps for normal play 5 Mbps for HD), the willingness to pay an as of yet disclosed monthly fee, and to give up your rights as a consumer to own hard copies of the games you buy.

With the newest video game consoles offering the ability to download content directly to your hard drive, it seems the next logical step is to go all digital. That means cutting out the retail stores like Bestbuy, Walmart, and Target out of the game. One of the problems I have with this is, the developers all claim that this will be good for the consumer. They say, by not having to print boxes or produce DVDs the savings will be passed onto the buyer. If that’s true, then why is it that a digital download of a new movie cost the same as buying it a store?

This is really a way to increase their profit margin by selling you a game without you having the pleasure of actually owning it. I know this is the future, but nobody ever said I have to like it. I still have many major issues with the whole online product thing. What happens when my hard drive crashes and I lose all the music, movies, and games I paid for? What happens when the online game I love gets old and it’s no longer cost affective to run a server for it? And what happens to stores like Gamestop and the Exchange that thrive on the resell of these products?

I guess I’m just old fashion and stuck in the 90’s but I just feel that if I’m going to dish out 60 of my hard earned dollars I should get something for it that I can put on my book shelf.

By Sean Brett