OnLive: Will it Beat Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii at Their Own Game?

Darren: Have you actually played Crysis? Or Crysis Warhead? Dude, those are some solid games. And you don't see something like that running on a console (yet). And since EA is one of the partners signing on board for this, imagine playing a REAL RTS game on your TV. Red Alert 3, anyone? Don't know about you, but when I'm trying to play RTS games on a console (I'm looking at YOU Halo Wars) I want to wing my gamepad at the set and draw circles around units on-screen. Companies such as Warner Brothers, EA, and Epic Games, Ubisoft, Eidos, Atari Interactive, Take-Two Interactive, THQ and Codemaster already look like they are on board. Call me crazy, but I think that they might have a sweet game or two between 'em.

But I will concede one point: There need to be enough unique PC-only games out there to really sell this. Otherwise, there's nothing stopping someone from playing the same games on a console they already own. And not have to be online to play ‘em. Now if I were running this show, I'd scramble to hook up with the indie / casual gaming community and tap that braintrust to lock down some of the really cool, unique games that you usually see pop up on the PSN, and Xbox Live Arcade and WiiWare stores

Sid: I agree that Crysis is a sight to behold. Unfortunately, a little bit of that visual luster is stripped away due to the aggressive, high-speed video compression needed for OnLive. When I played Crysis, I definitely noticed visual artifacting that made colors look grittier and more banded, giving the overall impression of playing the game in one of those Fox.com TV windows.

Darren: Yeah, I was noticing some muddiness as well (it wasn't as pronounced when I was racing around GRID) but I can forgive it a little right now. I mean, this is a closed alpha test version of a service that won't launch until sometime in waaaaay late 2009. So I'm holding my nit-pickery to a minimum for now.

Sid: BUT the real deal-breaker here may be the "Micro Console," which is the tiny, almost inconsequential breakout box that allows you to play OnLive games on your TV. This little guy was pretty slick -- HDMI output, 5.1 optical output, two USB ports for peripherals like mice and keyboards, Bluetooth....it packed in quite a few features in a tiny, iPod-like form factor. Did you catch the OnLive guys hinting that the Micro Console might be cheap enough to "give away" with a subscription to the OnLive service?

Darren: I don't think that'd be a deal-breaker, more a deal maker. I mean the ability to plug in a mouse and keyboard to play an RTS anywhere in the home doesn't sound like a pile of suck to me. And for something significantly less than the "usual" gaming PC...

Sid: Yeah, it sounds like we both think OnLive will have more consequences for the PC gaming market than the console market...for now, at least. Can you imagine living in a futuristic society where men don't need PS3s and Xboxes to play insanely gorgeous games? Someone pinch me, I feel like I'm living in a George Orwell book.

Darren: Right, and for all those jokers who pose as pundits proclaiming the death of PC gaming (surprise -- still not dead) this is a big fat Brooklyn cheer for them. I mean, people have been dreaming about this idea of a streaming console for a long time (ahem -- Phantom console, anyone?) but now the Internet bandwidth to support it is at least remotely feasible.

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