OnLive, on paper, is a really great idea. For those of us — myself included — without hulking towers of full of graphics cards and RAM, we now have an opportunity to play a game like Crysis without fear of a complete computer meltdown. All it really takes is a halfway decent broadband connection and you too can enjoy all the latest games on even the most underpowered of netbooks, smartphones, or your own T.V.
OnLive does this through cloud computing: churning through all the processing work in their server farms and sending streaming video to your supported devices.
No doubt the technology is amazing and (from what I hear) works well, but there are some fundamental problems I have with OnLive — problems that keep it from an easy purchase.
Remember that whole Ubisoft “required connection” digital rights management (DRM) debacle? You know, the one Ubisoft is slowly patching out of games like Assassin’s Creed 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction? OnLive — at its most basic level — requires a constant Internet connection, which causes all the same problems as Ubisoft’s dubious DRM. Is your Internet down? No games for you. And I hope you weren’t in the middle of a level because if it’s anything like Ubisoft’s system it might not save before kicking you off.
Another issue is the lack of a physical copy. So like with PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and Wiiware, you won’t be able to resell your purchases, let your friends borrow them, or swim in a large pile of them (if you’re into that sort of thing).
But OnLive takes it a step further. There’s not just a lack of a physical copy: There’s no copy at all. You are at the mercy of the cloud. I wish OnLive the best, but what if the company does end up folding? Those games you purchased would be absolutely worthless. Worse than worthless: They’re just gone. Like a dead MMO, there will be absolutely no way to access that content ever again.
I just can’t allow myself to have that much faith in a company, especially one as untested as OnLive. Good luck chaps, but you’ll have to find success without me.