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OnLive and Gaikai — How To Stop a Gaming Revolution

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the and-in-this-corner dept.

Businesses 125

happierr writes "The gaming industry has been struggling in the last few months, and it is about to struggle even more when OnLive and Gaikai launch later this year. The new services are both a step in the right direction to counter piracy and provide easily-accessible gaming to people with low-end PCs. They might even do for PC gaming what the Wii did for casual gaming; greatly expand the market and draw interest from people who would not ordinarily play games. The services are a real threat for the Big Three video game companies (Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo). How will they combat these revolutionary services? There are a few steps that the Big Three are taking to combat the New Two, such as an increased reliance on peripherals and vision cameras, exclusivity deals, and more online multiplayer features, which OnLive and Gaikai will have a hard time matching."

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Latency (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001215)

Neither OnLive and Gaikai wont make any gaming revolution. Yes, they might have the power and bandwidth to run the game as streaming video off their servers, but the major issue is still latency with controller. Even 50-100ms lag will be *really* noticiable when you're just moving mouse to look around. And in some fast games when you see the enemy you'll be already dead on the server.

OnLive shows Burnout Paradise in games catalog too, and racing games are another genre where you need fast input from the controller or you will be rolling your car down the hill pretty soon. These days latency is not gonna make it. Unlike bandwidth and power, latency is a lot harder issue to overcome in future too. Sure, it works from keyboard to pc really fast. But not when its gonna move hundreds of kilometers back and worth. It's already pushed to nice 50-100ms if theres nothing interfering with your local network or something along the way. You can talk in phones in real time too (well, with the same latency, but its not noticable in that use). But for controllers, specially for mouse, its not going to work. And more so you need to stream huge video all the time that can't be prebuffered like YouTube or other video content because its generated in real time.

Games like Counter-Strike and other multiplayer games work because the amount of work and data is split between client and server. You're only sending small amount of information to the server, like current position, shots etc. and the server is sending the client back other players information. Not a huge streaming video, but small packet with coordinates and so on. And even then we all know how crappy it goes if latency grows and the game lags.

What comes to removing piracy via online delivered content, the answer isn't streaming the game as video. Answer is delivering content when needed in game. Yes, that still needs lots of bandwidth and an active internet connection, and you pretty much fuck the customers over with it. But it makes piracy a lot harder if you need to authenticate to server and you only get some, but still significant amount of content during game, dynamically. However technically that way is A LOT closer possible than streaming the game as video and sending controller movements back to the game server.

Bandwidth can grow, but latency issues aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Only things this might work with is something like chess games, but I dont know if Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are going to be so worried about that.

Re:Latency (3, Insightful)

Suiggy (1544213) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001223)

Agreed. I'm still skeptical as to whether OnLive and Gaikai can scale their infrastructure to meet demand. It also looks like they will only be servicing certain major population centers at first, so if you live out in the boondocks, good luck with that. Furthermore, if they go out of business, you lose your ability to game (it looks like you get full access to their gaming library though for a fixed monthly fee, but if they make you purchase individual games like steam does, then once they go, you've lost all your games.)

Re:Latency (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001693)

I'm still trying to understand how they're going to put Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft out of business. That was the line in the summary that confused me.

That, and the fact that the summary doesn't mention what OnLive or Gaikai actually do.

Re:Latency (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001865)

I'm still trying to understand how they're going to put Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft out of business. That was the line in the summary that confused me.

That, and the fact that the summary doesn't mention what OnLive or Gaikai actually do.

By making consoles obsolete since any browser will do. Yes, I, too, are skeptical. You'd need the data centers pretty close to get below 20-30 ms ping, which I think is the highest tolerable slack for most games (20ms ping ~ 50fps). That works out to 3000 km (back and forth) at the speed of light, which would be the ultimate barrier.

Re:Latency (1)

Dusthead Jr. (937949) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002177)

I've often wondered this myself. Even if latency was not an issue, what is so unique about Onlive that no game console can offer. If all you need is a browser, both the Wii and the PS3 offer one. It wouldn't be such a stretch for MS to include one on the 360. And just like that OnLive has no real advantage, besides, maybe patents, but good luck with that. One big advantage all console makers have is a huge pre-exsiting library of games, games meant for a TV screen. OnLive has just PC games that must be modified for TVs.

Re:Latency (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002373)

Sure, but why buy a console if you PC can do it? At least, why buy an expensive console with tons of CPU power of a meager one will do?

Re:Latency (1)

Dusthead Jr. (937949) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002477)

Why buy a PC if your console can do it? Last time I checked a Wii cost $250 US dollars. Xbox 360 cost $200. Never mind buying used. Hell if the requirements are so low why not a PS2?. What's stop the Big 3 from creating a newer, low power box for little of nothing?

Re:Latency (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 5 years ago | (#29003299)

Why buy a PC if your console can do it? Last time I checked a Wii cost $250 US dollars. Xbox 360 cost $200. Never mind buying used. Hell if the requirements are so low why not a PS2?. What's stop the Big 3 from creating a newer, low power box for little of nothing?

Nothing, but exclusivity will go out of the window: every console of that type will be able to play everything the other cans. Thus, it will simply be the cheapest one that will win, and the service will get all the real money.

I have had thoughts myself along doing something along these lines, but rejected it as impossible due to latency. Will be interesting to watch, at least :) My secret dream is, of course, to see stuff like Monkey Island games again.

Re:Latency (1)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002397)

The great advantage of those servers is that you can have the power of a supercomputer without its cost. Theoretically, you can pay as much as you would for a console, and it's like you and many people chipping in to buy a really high-end PC. This way, you can use the place like a cloud server to perform massive calculations that serve to execute games that conventional technology wouldn't be able to handle, thus allowing for really intricate games that the gaming community has never seen before. I think that your computer will be doing some work however. It will most likely compress the I/O, which might allow for such a high amount of data transfer to be feasible. Even of there is a high amount of latency, the games can be designed to get around it to create a whole new game market that will prevent it from driving others off the market. Examples could include truly evolutionary games that use powerful algorithms and detailed graphics in a game where the player does the part of natural selection for the body and behavior of a creature to make a civilization (Spore on steroids if you will). Or it can make a turn based strategy game that relies heavily on a physics engine that makes real life look less sharp.

Re:Latency (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29003279)

The problem is that you can't just magically rent that power out, you need to have it in the server room too. An average game must not use more than 1/x PCs' worth of power where x is the percentage of users online during peak load to keep the server room at one PC per user. Of course if you've got as many PCs as users anyway it'd be pointless to centralize them because each user could use a PC for the same money. So your average game would have to use significantly less than 1/x. I don't think that's going to allow any amazing simulation games unless the peak is ridiculously small and I doubt that.

Re:Latency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29002335)

Maybe they are using quantum entanglement-assisted teleportation instead of tubes? Or as I like to call them, quantum tubes.

Re:Latency (1)

Zeussy (868062) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001227)

Games like Counter-Strike and other multiplayer games work because the amount of work and data is split between client and server.

That is not the only reason counter strike (and Half-Life 1 in general) gained so much popularity. The server would record that last second or 2 of the game and when it received that you had fired a gun, it would retrospectively fire it from how you would of seen the game 250ms ago (or however long your current ping is). This led to the game feeling a lot more responsive to players, but also led to the "wtf how did he kill me when I ducked behind that wall?", well when he fired he could still see you.

Re:Latency (2, Insightful)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001285)

It is possible that players will adapt similary: instead of reacting they will act prememptivelly. I had my share of playing on lowend machines with laggy graphics and in the end, it was matter of getting used to.

Say, you play car racing game, since you know track, you can start streering a bit before you would if you had instant control.

This gets, of couse, hard in multiplayer or in any other game where you actually need to react to enviroment. And is not really pleasant experinece as till now i always start with pushing effects/quality/resolution sliders to minimum - playing with blocky low res textures is preferable to having pretty slideshow. But over network, you do not get to do this kind of optimalization. Line simply has some base latency and nothing can magically improve it.

Re:Latency (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001707)

Say, you play car racing game, since you know track, you can start streering a bit before you would if you had instant control.

Have you actually played Burnout Paradise?

Re:Latency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001287)

that's not because the server recorded anything... that's because... you know... THE LATENCY...

Re:Latency (3, Informative)

Mr. Vage (1084371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001701)

You post anonymously because you know not of what you speak.

Latency Compensating Methods in Client/Server In-game Protocol Design and Optimization []

Re:Latency (1)

Zeussy (868062) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002261)

I have never actually read that, was a good read. Thank you Mr. Vage

Re:Latency (1)

skyride (1436439) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002897)

Yes, its a fantastic article that. I think you'll find most regular players of games like Counter Strike Source, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, etc,, all know this but few actually understand how it works. The problem in Counter-Strike source is that while the got they server-side lag compensation to a tee, they never quite got the client prediction correct. However in newer games (namely those based on the orangebox engine such as Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Day of Defeat: Source) they mastered that too. As an avid player of Team Fortress 2 I must say the difference it makes is fantastic. Team Fortress 2 is quite playable at pings of 250ms for average players (although the quicker your reactions and higher your skill level, the more noticable it will be). I live in Scotland and I can play on servers in Australia without it feeling like a slideshow (although generally, its a nightmare playing on any server outside Europe).

Re:Latency (1)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001245)

You argue that latency is not going to be overcome anytime soon. While I can see your point about sending video vs real time data, I would have to argue against that. Not the benefits/risks about delivering the medium, but the latency issue. As it stands, we are using copper to send information. And you are correct in pointing out that latency is a huge issue there. But you also seem to argue that its a issue that is impossible to overcome in the future. That's where I have to disagree. The trend seems to be a combination of Fiber to the home and fiber to the node. And I won't disagree that the connection itself isn't the only problem, it is one that can be remedied in the future. You'll still see latency of course, but more then likely 50ms will be on the high end.

Re:Latency (1)

Suiggy (1544213) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001253)

Fiber at your doorstep is at least a decade away from being mainstream. Sure, it's already available on trial in certain cities, but it won't be common place anytime in the near future.

Re:Latency (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002895)

Heh... Even if you had FTTP (I's AWESOME.) the bandwidth and latency concerns you'll have on the SERVER end will kill this idea.

Just how many SD sessions at 1.5Mbits do you think you could handle with the respective links if you were one of these companies?

OC-3 : 100
OC-12 : 400
OC-48 : 1650
OC-192 : 6350

That's presuming no issues with lost traffic, latency, etc. I don't know about you but 10G service is neither cheap, nor is it easy to work with. Moreover, if you're not using OC-192, you're not going to be able to gain enough resources in a given area to be able to sell this. You're going to likely have to roll out 1-2 OC-192's in an area like Oklahoma City in size. You'll have to roll out about 5-8 for a city the size of the DFW metroplex- it goes really downhill from there, as I think you'll see.

And you're going to need top-end ADSL, Cable, or FTTP to make their thing work on top of the other needs I just outlined.

These companies are selling DRM snake oil to the media industry for all intents and purposes. The games industry is worrying about "piracy" when they should actually be looking at the why the piracy is going on and the lost sales are happening (but, like the record industry, they're not going to bother connecting the dots...).

Re:Latency (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29003305)

The games industry is worrying about "piracy" when they should actually be looking at the why the piracy is going on and the lost sales are happening (but, like the record industry, they're not going to bother connecting the dots...).

A bigger issue is all the people who neither pirate nor buy because they don't like the product on offer. New delivery methods aren't going to get those people to buy.

Re:Latency (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001275)

Here in Sweden most of our internet infrastructure is actually fiber, not copper. Thats why we have 100mbits (1gbit in largest cities) to home. But the latency is still 25-50ms and thats in your home city. Going further from that and it grows.

I said the latency issue will not be fixed soon, not never. But it's gonna take some good time before we get there. Currently the only possible way this could work even some is to have datacenter in every city you want customers from. And you need lots of servers just sitting around idle just in case more players want to play. That is gonna be huge amount of datacenters. Hell, even Google doesn't have a datacenter in *even* every country, so theres no way they're gonna build datacenter in every larger city on the planet.

No, this is not going to make any kind of gaming revolution anytime soon, and publishers have little to nothing to worry about.

Re:Latency (1)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001283)

That's interesting. In the long run they might not have to do a data center in every city. They could utilized a p2p architecture to remedy some of the problems gamers experience.

Re:Latency (1)

Suiggy (1544213) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001315)

Gamers aren't going to have hardware to run game simulations on. The only thing you can count on them having is the OnLive/GaiKai set-top receiver and a TV. So P2P is not going to work here. I imagine they're using some sort of virtualization technology. So assuming current technology, with dual quad-core Xeons and quad GPUs for rendering per rack unit, you're only going to be able to run 2 to 8 modern games per unit. So if you're servicing at most 10,000 customers per large city, you're going to have to have on average of 2500 to be able to handle peak usage periods. They might be able to get the cost per unit down to $2000 with bulk purchasing, but with energy costs to run the processing center, the cost is still a lot. And if you're charging those customers $20/month for access, it's going to take a while to pay off your hardware, pay the monthly energy/lease bills, pay for licensing the games from game developers/publishers, replacing faulty hardware, paying the administrations who run the operation, etc. I just don't see it being feasible.

Re:Latency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29002085)

I totally agree with you. However, the fact that they are launching their service tells me that they somehow solved that problem and can make a profit off their service. I'm very excited how thinks will work out for them after launch and what the gaming experience is going to be like on this system.

Re:Latency (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002299)

AC shilled ...

However, the fact that they are launching their service tells me that they somehow solved that problem and can make a profit off their service

No, it doesn't tell you squat about whether they solved the profit problem. Just look at all the dot-com bombs. In this case, they have no choice except to launch and hope to keep investor money flowing chasing fictitious hopes of profits.

Why anyone would bother with this service when consoles are dirt cheap, and you don't have to keep paying a monthly fee to keep renting the same game over and over is beyond me, and probably beyond most people who actually, you know, spend real money on games.

Chasing people who are too cheap to buy a console and a game on disk is a losing market strategy - talk about loser business plans when your target market is self-selected to be too cheap to buy what you're selling. If the person can't afford a console, they most likely can't afford high-speed internet and have more pressing needs, like making their next rent payment. The ONLY market for this is the "rent-to-own" welfare/ssi/perma-debt crowd.

Re:Latency (1)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002719)

Actually, if you use Xbox Live! You -are- technically paying a monthly fee to play multi-player games. It's working out quite well for Microsoft, btw. Outside of Valve and Blizzard, they have the largest online market segment for paid gaming. Once the shareholders + C-level execs of the big publishers get the bright idea of charging you rental fees for their all of their online multi-player games (EA, I am looking at you in particular), watch Valve turn Steam into a monthly fee-based system (on top of what you pay to "purchase" the game), because the game publishers require them to. The revenue stream is too significant to ignore for much longer. It also solves the second-hand gaming "problem" in one fell swoop.

The first steps for this are already in falling into place (requiring always-on internet for single-player games, etc), now we just have to see how hard the game publishers push for it.

Re:Latency (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001529)

Latency will never be fixed entirely. It is still dependent on the speed of light, which is not infinite. One light millisecond is 186 miles or 299 kilometers which is not really all that far, especially in a large country like the U.S. If you're playing a game in New York and the server is in San Francisco, the minimum delay would be 15 ms.

Networking in a vacuum vs fiber or copper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001651)

Your numbers are for the speed of light in a vacuum. How much slower is it in glass fiber? And the speed of electrical signals in copper?

The 15ms from NY to SF provides a boundary case that we can't improve on, but the *actual* latency is going to be far worse than this.

Re:Not that far (0, Troll)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001695)

I think 186 miles is a long way. I have a remote control for my tv so I don't have to move the six feet from my sofa.

Re:Latency (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001727)

Thats why we have 100mbits (1gbit in largest cities) to home.

Sure, brag about your internet connections.

But you guys are forced to have universal health care, which means people dropping dead in the streets and old people being forced to take lethal injections.

I know this because that nice young man on AM-560 told me so. I'm not sure what kind of health care they have on the FM band, because the FM in my '83 Toyota pickup doesn't work.

Re:Latency (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001855)

Actually if you want to bash, health care is bad way to go. Unlike US, we take care of people. But that goes with burden of tax, so bash that. And yes, it sucks.

Re:Latency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001861)

Can I whoosh? Can I? Oh, what the hell...


Re:Latency (0, Flamebait)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002783)

It was sarcasm bro, obviously your people aren't dropping dead in the street, and your elderly aren't being euthanized. That was supposed to be so outlandish you would realize that the next bit, about the AM radio, was poking fun at US political commentators.

The US has, bar none, the best medical care in the world. But it will cost you. Nobody is refused emergency, life-saving care, but that doesn't mean you don't pay for it. If you can't afford it, chances are your life is pretty much over from a financial standpoint.

Hence, the satire about how "horrible" universal healthcare is.

Personally, I don't want universal healthcare, I just want the dirtbag insurance companies to have to pay their fair share. That's why they exist in the first place. Right now they are screwing the US system frontwards and backwards, and it's really causing havoc.

Re:Latency (5, Informative)

stjobe (78285) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002911)

The US has, bar none, the best medical care in the world.

Well, I've seen this touted before, and as then I feel obliged to point out that e.g. the WHO disagrees:

The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2000, ranked the U.S. health care system as the highest in cost, first in responsiveness, 37th in overall performance, and 72nd by overall level of health (among 191 member nations included in the study). The WHO study has been criticized in a study published in Health Affairs for its methodology and lack of correlation with user satisfaction ratings. A 2008 report by the Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States last in the quality of health care among the 19 compared countries. However, the U.S. also has higher survival rates than most other countries for certain conditions, such as some less common cancers. Yet, the U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate than all other developed countries. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the United States is the "only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage" (i.e. some kind of assurance).

And more:

Medical debt is the principal cause of bankruptcy in the United States.

(source: wikipedia [] , of course, emphasis mine).

Re:Latency (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 5 years ago | (#29003579)

Nobody is refused emergency, life-saving care, but that doesn't mean you don't pay for it.

So if you have some potentially-terminal condition, they only treat you when you're on the deathbed and it's too late? That doesn't sound like the best health care in the world.

Nor does insurance companies refusing treatment due to smallprint or technicalities.

Re:Latency (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001295)

Fiber has a long way coming as dsl/cable operators are pushing out more and better equipment with better repeaters, 3G/4G mobile broadband, all the people using wireless to connect in their house because cables are impractical and so on. And latency is still handled extremely poorly by any QoS or is at least complicated, I can play and download in background but with this scheme it'll probably make the gaming experience suck. And that goes if you're sharing the internet connection with anyone else, like say a family, other tenants or whatever.

Have you really tried any of the best solutions today like remote X/NX, RDP, Citrix or similar? They work well enough for email and office work, but try playing a video. It's utterly and completely painful to see them try sending an unbuffered video, which is what this would be like. The only reason streaming works well is because of local buffers. And I'm talking about doing this on a 20Mbit line to a much faster corporate network, this idea is for when we all have gigabit internet and flying cars.

Re:Latency (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001573)

Not to mention with so many of the telecos looking to stick their customers with caps, instead of actually laying more pipes like they should be doing, I'm betting this thing goes down in flames.

The average price of going over your cap, at least around here, is $1.25 a Gb. Just imagine getting an extra $60-$100 slapped on your bill because your kid had been doing some heavy gaming when you weren't at home. I'll stick with the nice shiny discs where I don't have to worry about hitting my cap, thanks ever so much. And in many places even fiber to the neighborhood is years or even a decade or more away and on regular Cable/DSL the upload speed is just horrible. I can't imagine this service will work very well with such horrible upload speeds.

Re:Upload speeds (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001731)

Hah, you losers might have crappy upload speeds, but I am with Virgin Media cable and that nice mr branson has recently DOUBLED my upstream speed! Ha ha! I now have EIGHTEEN THOUSAND BYTES PER SECOND upload. Read it and weep, bitches!

Re:Latency (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002441)

Plus the nice shiny disk will keep working even if you change your internet plan or cancel the service entirely - AND you can always sell it, lend it, or trade it.

Re:Latency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001301)

It's interesting to note the absolute lower bounds on latency given by basic physics (i.e. the speed of light). It's physically impossible to have a ping less than 120 ms to a server on the other side of the world, or 25 ms to a server on the opposite side of the continental US.

Re:Latency (1)

LogicalError (1002490) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001357)

You argue that latency is not going to be overcome anytime soon.

Yes, pretty soon now we'll just increase the speed of light... oh wait

Re:Latency (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001447)

The speed of light is 300,000 km/s. If 50 ms is an acceptable latency, 15,000 km can be traveled by the signal. Input events have to travel to the server and the video has to travel back, so the server should be within 7,500 km of the player. This means the server has to be on the same continent, but not necessarily in the same city.

Of course network switches, the game itself and video encoding and decoding add latency, but those are all things that get faster as technology advances.

Re:Latency (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002981)

The speed of light in fiber optic cable is about 200,000km/s, or right around 66% of the speed of light in a vacuum.

Copper is actually nearly as fast, but other technical limitations cause shorter copper runs, and therefore higher delays, than fiber over long distances.

That's why fiber is used for distance, but we can still get 10gigabit+ for short runs of copper.

Re:Latency (2, Informative)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002017)

It has nothing to do with using copper wires. The signals travel at close to the speed of light, for both copper wires and optical fibre. The latency has much more to do with the infrastructure. Packet switching, QOS, and shared capacity for ISPs. Basically, it's what makes the internet the internet.
A few Arcade machines had direct telephone lines to central servers for "online" play, and that dealt with lag effectively. But nothing short of a internet revolution could bring it down to that kind of responsiveness.

Re:Latency (3, Interesting)

dword (735428) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001333)

Latency isn't a problem for my country. There are two major ISPs and one is dedicated in high bandwidth while the other in low latency. They're so cheap that just for on-line gaming and for on-line streaming at once, I would gladly subscribe to both (I don't play a lot of games so it's not my case, but I have some friends who are subscribed to both). This is a killer for your whole post, since the 50-100ms is considered "a lot" if you're subscribed to one of the ISPs and it's probably the fault of your own hardware. You get ping replies like 15-25ms between any of their subscribers. They move quick enough for a whole on-line gaming industry as described in the article so they may not be able to couple the whole world, but they can do it country-by-country where it's possible and in many countries it is possible., believe me.

Re:Latency (1)

NervousNerd (1190935) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001365)

Where is your "country" exactly? I'd love to know, so I could move there, thanks.

Re:Latency (1)

dword (735428) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001437)

Some people would say "Eastern Europe", but I'd say it's in the middle, politically speaking.

Re:Latency (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001533)

That doesn't exactly narrow it down :P

Re:Latency (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001755)

Sealand? :-)

Re:Latency (1)

mindstormpt (728974) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001571)

That's not so unusual. Nowadays things probably aren't so shiny due to the extreme overselling and poor use of QoS techniques, but 5/6 years ago (when I still played) it was standard to have pings of 6-20 ms to national servers and 15-30 to those in some (well connected) countries in Western Europe (UK and Netherlands-based servers were popular). All this over, at the time, a 4 Mbps cable connection. So you can move to 5-years-ago Portugal too, in addition to the GP's "in the middle of Europe" country :P

Re:Latency (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001429)

Of course if they put servers in close ping proximity to every user, this can work. But that means a lot of servers, spread all around the world, which they need to set up and maintain.

Whereas the current business model involves the users themselves getting their hardware to every place where it is needed (i.e. to every user's house). This is much more scalable and simpler from the perspective of the business. But yeah, this is a hassle for users, and OnLive and Gaikai believe their offering will win because of that and related issues.

Regardless, to get back to the topic in the original post, these 'new two' aren't starting a revolution against the incumbents. Simply because, if they show any promise at all in actually succeeding, one of those incumbents will buy them. If the 'new two's model makes sense, I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft buying one and Sony the other (as they can easily outbid Nintendo). But, this is all speculation, we still have no idea whether this new model will succeed.

Re:Latency (1)

dword (735428) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001459)

Of course if they put servers in close ping proximity to every user, this can work. But that means a lot of servers, spread all around the world, which they need to set up and maintain.

That's just it... They don't need to have many servers, just a few connected to ISPs with low latency, because this way they already have low-latency access to the whole country. Those "a lot" of servers already exist in some places and they're already maintained by some ISPs. All they needed to figure out was how to get low latency between their own servers. I agree, it's still speculation, but the risk of hardware failure is very low so if their software is good enough, this might actually lead to a gaming revolution.

Re:Latency (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001483)

I presume your country is fairly small, which makes it possible to get within close ping distance of everyone there fairly easily. But, in general to cover e.g. the entire US or Europe with good ping rates will cost a lot.

Not likley (3, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001553)

Ok so your ISP has low latency in itself. That is not impressive. I have a regular DOCSIS2 cable modem here in the US. Not fibre, no special new technology. However, I get pings on the range of 10-30ms to other Cox customers, and Cox sites in my state. That's wonderful... But it doesn't hold up when I have to start traversing longer distances. For example going to Google, well now I'm up to 50-60ms. Google is pretty quick, since near as I can tell it is a datacentre in a neighboring state that I'm going to, and there is a direct connection from Cox to Google. How about something over on the East Coast, say Juno, an East Cost ISP? That is more like 80-100ms. All that and I'm still in my country, still on my continent.

Now please remember that my numbers, like yours, are all minimal network pings. These are extremely fast. The actual latency for an application can often be higher since more processing has to be done and you have larger payloads.

The upshot is that you only tend to have these awesome low pings to things that are very close to you both in network terms and physical terms. In your country, maybe everything is physically close. That's not the case in the United States. My city is 100 miles away from the next major city, and that 100 miles is filled with a lot of nothing. You could fit most nations in my state with room to spare and it isn't the largest one.

So, while you could get low latencies, potentially, by sticking servers in lots of ISPs, and in lots of geographic locations, that just isn't really feasible. Barring that, there is no way you are going to have super low latencies. Sorry. There aren't magic technologies out that that people are just holding back. A large part of it is simply router speed. It takes time for a router to get a packet, figure out where it is going to go, and send it out. Every router adds a little bit of time, and unless you want to have a giant mesh with all nodes connected to all other nodes, there's going to be a lot of routers in the middle.

With longer distances, the speed that data travels through the lines itself becomes a factor. While light speed sounds really fast, it really isn't on the scale of the Earth and the time scale of data. Assuming you had an ideal vacuum situation, a beam of light can go around the Earth in about 133ms. So, even as fast as it could possibly be, we are still talking perceptible lag at long distances.

This gets worse since we don't have ideal conditions. For one, optical fibre has a higher index of refraction than a vacuum. This means that light travels slower through it. It goes maybe 2/3rds c in good fibre. Then there's the fact that fibre doesn't run in nice straight lines to its target. It goes around and over obstacles, it follows roads, rails and so on, it goes in and out of buildings and so on. You end up having a longer run than an "as the crow flies" situation.

So no matter what you do, you are going to have latency when dealing with distances, and at long distances it isn't going to be trivial. The routers are going to add latency, the cable is going to add latency, translations from one form to another will add latency, and so on.

Thus the only way to have ultra low latency is to be close physically and through the Internet to your target. This is not always feasible.

Re:Latency (1)

cbraescu1 (180267) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001555)

Is that you, Pope Benedict XVI?

Re:Latency (1)

obi (118631) | more than 5 years ago | (#29003131)

Raw network latency would not be the only contributing factor to the overall latency. Just imagine the latency introduced by the audio and video encoding (their infrastructure) and decoding (the minimal hardware at home). Plus all the tricks they'll have to pull to scale their infrastructure, etc. I'd be surprised if they can pull it all off.

But who knows, maybe they really have some clever ideas; I'm genuinely curious as to how they'll try and tackle the technical issues.

Re:Latency (1)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001387)

Even 50-100ms lag will be *really* noticiable

Sure, but they will be targeting civilized parts of the world with this service so latency shouldn't be that high. Ping times to a server in a datacenter near the major internet exchange of the country I live in (.nl) average to about 10ms (between 8 and 12, occasional spike to 14ms) at the moment. And this is over a cable modem. If they choose the location of their datacenters carefully (and they'll have to) latency shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Re:Latency (1)

wondershit (1231886) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001419)

All in all i agree. But

You can talk in phones in real time too (well, with the same latency, but its not noticable in that use).

You never attended a TeamSpeak session or something alike with this kind of latency (50-100ms), did you? Everybody starts talking because they don't hear anything, then all comes intermingled, than everybody pauses, waiting for the others to talk and so on... Two people are enough for that so this can be applied to ordinary phone calls. I'm not sure about 50ms but 100ms is definitely noticable.

It's kind of like two people walking down the street in the opposite direction facing each other and starting to "dance" because both took the same route to avoid collision.

Slighty error on your post. (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001961)

Games like Counter-strike work because the input don't need to be send to the server to show a change on the screen.
You press LEFT, and the char move left on your screen. The left movement still has to hit the server, procesed, and return.

300 ms lag with Counter-Strike is playable, but feel lame. 200 ms with input lag is unplayable.. playable with training, you need to train yourself to move the character like a drunk. And that the better way to explain it. On today games, the clientside adds the quick reactions, before the data is send to teh server. Withouth that faking (clientside prediction stuff) you will move and feel like a drunk with 2 vozka bottles inside.

Re:Latency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29002629)

You're an idiot, "online delivered content" does not mean that you are basically using something like a VNC client and the game runs on the server. You "stream" the binaries of the game and then run it locally on your computer.

Re:Latency (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002811)

Actually, the bandwith is going to be prohibitive. Do the math...

At 1.5 Mbits/s you can service roughly 100 simultaneous players on an OC-3. (That's 155/1.5- leaving you with 103, call it 100 for margin for error sake- and it's really not a good margin...)

With an OC-12 link you can service 400 players with a bit larger margins for load induced problems (That's 633/1.5...)

With an OC-48 link you can service about 1650 or so players with actually usable margins... (2500/1.5)

With an OC-192 link you can service 6300-6350 players with truly usable margins. (9600/1.5)

This doesn't get into the brutally high requirements to HANDLE the last two or discussing anything other than standard def resolutions- and it doesn't address what sorts of latency issues you'll inject with that many players (which will invariably be worse than your position...). I don't know about you, but I'd ask just about how many people are playing something like WoW at any given time. Handling the data coming out of an OC-192's fun beyond words. My day job's still working on getting a handle on that sort of data and we're used to dealing with anything OC-12 and below and doing a very good job of all of it. And an OC-192's feed per server center is going to be the only thing that will actually make it remotely viable. They're going to pour money on the floor doing this, even if they could make it viable- OC-192's aren't cheap and they don't grow on trees and won't for a while yet to come.

These plays are DRM snake oil- trying to sell a "solution" and get money out of an industry that's losing cash like the record industry. ...And for all the same reasons the record industry's losing cash...

Dead company walking (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001229)

Soon to join the corpses of several other services that tried to do the same thing.

Broadband doesn't have the amount of penetration yet to make this possible.

Re:Dead company walking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001239)

A name that doesn't sound like GayBoy would also have helped. Unless they were trying to attract homosexual men.

Re:Dead company walking (0, Offtopic)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001539)

Plenty of disposable income and no family commitments. Why wouldn't they want to ahem attract homosexual men.

On Soviet Slashdot (1)

Homburg (213427) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001241)

The gaming industry has been struggling in the last few months, and it is about to struggle even more when OnLive and Gaikai launch later this year. The new services are both a step in the right direction to counter piracy and provide easily-accessible gaming to people with low-end PCs.

Article troll you!

Re:On Soviet Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001291)

I though on Soviet Slashdot, Kdawson trolls you.

Re:On Soviet Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001351)

No, that's every Slashdot. In the endless multitudes of alternate universes, from "Nazis won WW2" to "Jesus was black" to "the Illuminati actually runs the entire world from behind the scenes", among even the most absurd of them, "kdawson posts stupid shit on Slashdot" is an invariant.

Slashvertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001271)

This Slashdot article is SO manufactured by a PR company to promote their client, it's not even funny.

Utter fantasy (5, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001339)

As as been pointed out elsewhere, measuring the video game industry on a month by month basis is idiotic. The US and the entire world is in a bit of a slump, but video game sales are still pretty solid overall. Traditional measurements don't account for things like online purchases, or whether or not any majorly anticipated games have been released. Keep in mind that videogame development takes place over *years*. So, those of us (well, at least me) who make games for a living just tend to shake our heads as people talk about monthly "slumps", etc.

I've heard nary a whisper from any of my colleagues and friends in the videogame industry about these new services. Most that I've talked to about it believe it to be somewhere between vaporware and wishful thinking. Yes, eventually this sort of solution may make a lot of sense. But at the moment, it's far more practical for the client to have access to local data and do the job of presentation (rendering the world) for the user. The issue of latency is simply going to be a showstopper. Unless they've figured out some sort of magical solution to turn 150-300ms latency into a snappy user experience, gamers will not flock to these services. And without gamers paving the way, the service won't be going anywhere.

You'll notice that just about every business under the sun is dying to get you to sign up for a *service* instead of purchasing *products*. This seems to be the new matra in software development of all sorts. Subscription-based services mean regular and predictable income. Everyone is looking at the cash Blizzard is raking in, and want a piece of that action. Online services also are just about the only viable protection against piracy, another bugaboo with industry execs and publishers.

This reminds me a lot of DivX - the DVD alternative, not the video codec. It was the movie industy's wet dream. Purchasing DVDs that you didn't actually own. This strikes me as something vaguely similar - a system designed for the benefit of the publishers, not the consumers. As such, it will die a slow, ignominious death as it's largely ignored by those who insist on a top-notch gaming experience.

Re:Utter fantasy (1)

twokay (979515) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001409)

It's the easy way out too. Instead of having to innovate interesting ways to use the internet for gameplay OnLive is attempting to give developer and publishers the ability to just shove existing content down the pipe at the consumer, but in a way they have total control over. No clever people or innovate ideas needed.

Criterion has done it better by heavily integrating social stats and scoreboards into Burnout Paradise. You need a valid account to keep track of your stats and to be able to compare yourself to other players, that is a big part of the game. If you want to get the full experience you need a valid account. You can lend the game to a mate, but do you want him/her screwing up your stats? And would he/she want to play through the game with a borrowed account? I think that sort of personalisation of the game -- give the gamer something that they end up creating and owning themselves -- is they way to stop piracy. But it requires more talent than just loading a disc with SECUROM or devlivering it through Onlive.

EA could do it with Madden, instead of selling a $60 game every year with the teams changed. Sell the platform once and then sell team updates and the social multilayer experience as a subscription. Now im sure EA would try and screw the consumer out of as much money as possible on the subscription (unlike Burnout which is a one off payment), but it's the right direction to go.

Re:Utter fantasy (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001885)

It's the easy way out too. Instead of having to innovate interesting ways to use the internet for gameplay OnLive is attempting to give developer and publishers the ability to just shove existing content down the pipe at the consumer, but in a way they have total control over. No clever people or innovate ideas needed.

That is pretty much why it will NOT counter the shrinking of the videogame market. It's shrinking because the number of people who like the kind of stuff that gaming offers is shrinking (either people growing up and not having time for lengthy games or no longer liking the extreme violence and of course the lower influx of new players because of the declining birth rates). Changing the delivery method won't do anything to get those people, only changing what gaming offers does. The Wii pulled it off though it's in a slump because of a lack of recent software (yes yes WSR but all talks about slumps is based on the June numbers, before WSR).

It's also a bit worse for the online services because they've pigeonholed themselves already: Their service exists to spare the user from having to upgrade his computer but this whole audience expansion is done with fairly weak hardware anyway, there's not a significant number of people who really need better graphics (they'll take it for free but they won't refuse to buy a game because it's not as pretty) and the current tech race has moved to the game input which the online services cannot handle. Anything like the Wii Motion Plus is impossible to deploy just by online means and has to be deployed at the user's home which means the user DOES have to upgrade his hardware. If anything outside of the processing system changes the home hardware needs replacement and it looks like that will happen more and more often. The problem these services are trying to fix is already going away.

The ultimate DRM (1)

Ogun (101578) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001347)

Now we will no longer just add draconian on-line activation to the games, we will no longer give you the game itself.
Even with steam you get the game data, which could still be cracked and used if steam would go belly-up.

And there is of course the latency issues mentioned in other replies. Unless somebody breaks the laws of physics, latency will always be there. It takes roughly 40ms to cross the atlantic, making for a 80ms RTT. Routers add more as it goes, not much per each but it all adds up.

Destined to fail, at least in the near future (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001377)

OnLive will not be a viable option for most people.

Firstly, the streaming video quality will be quite poor.

Secondly if the video is a high enough bitrate, ISPs will get upset and eventually start filtering it. That, or you're on a metered plan and will only be able to game a few times a month.

Peak gaming hours are probably also peak internet surfing hours, and many ISPs struggle to provide webpages in a decent time, never mind decent definition streaming video.

You'll get better video quality out of a $50 video card in your current PC. Anyone releasing games exclusively onto OnLive is nothing short of barking mad.

And I've never heard of the other mechanism, I presume it is similar.

I Want To Buy My Games (5, Insightful)

captjc (453680) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001525)

As a PC Gamer, I want to BUY my games. Why is every company trying to take that away from me? I want to walk into a store, pick up a box with a DVD in it, pay at the register, go home, and play. I also want to be able to play the game, say 5 years from now. Perhaps 10? The only thing that should stop me from playing a 10+ year old game is having a 10+ year old PC or a PC emulator. Lastly, If the game is shitty, I would like to sell it and maybe recoup my lost money.

I have cash, I want the DVD, is that so hard? Valve's games come on a DVD, but is still requires Steam to install it, so no reselling there. If steam decides to no longer support my game, oh, well. All of the games with online activation and limited installs, again no reselling and good luck playing them in 10+ years. Lastly, OnLive and Gaikai...these "revolutionary services", know what your getting into to begin with. But if this is the direction PC gaming is going to take, then I am out.

For the record, Anti-PC gamers that complain about having to "upgrade every 6 months" is full of shit. I have a 4 year old system that runs new games fine. The only thing upgraded was the video card, and that was two years ago, with a bargain-bin 512Mb Nvidia card.

Also, Yes, I do replay my 10+ year old games. Hell, I even buy old classics off Amazon, good luck doing that 10 years from now!

Re:I Want To Buy My Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001547)

You mean, in ten years from now, you want a reliable online store that would allow you to play 'Good Old Games' [] , preferably tempered with a mind for compatibility with your contemporary technology?

Re:I Want To Buy My Games (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001627)

GoG doesn't have Theme Hospital, so for me it has failed already. If you own the games you don't have to depend on whether the store will have them in the future. Of course, you'll probably need an emulator, but that can be remade by even one guy alone, as the excellent Allan Blomquist's IMBNES demonstrates.

Re:I Want To Buy My Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001907)

No, he wants to be able to play the games he already owns without paying for them twice.

Re:I Want To Buy My Games (1)

hab136 (30884) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001803)

I want to walk into a store, pick up a box with a DVD in it, pay at the register, go home, and play.

The main problem is that it's fairly easy to replace the first 4 steps with "download it", so they'd rather sell you a subscription.

Re:I Want To Buy My Games (2, Insightful)

bigngamer92 (1418559) | more than 5 years ago | (#29003493)

It's not for ease of use that they want you to take a subscription. It's so you have no rights over it. 100 gamers buy a game each month for $50. That's $5,000 for the industry. The gamers then sell these games at $20 dollars to gamestop and now there are 200 gamers playing the game at an average of $25. If instead you charge them $10 a month for as many games as you want, they are ensured that for as long as you want to game they get $2000/month. And they could just stop making games.

Actually make that quality games. If they could get this model to work game quality would sink below that of music quality from the RIAA.

Re:I Want To Buy My Games (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001925)

You are not alone, many millions of customers (I prefer that term over consumers because it emphasizes that it's a two-way relationship) are unwilling to go download only. Of course it seems like the game industry is thinking of the customers as sheep that can be herded into whatever benefits the industry, just asserting that the customers will be willing to follow every whim. They will probably be surprised when their services flop because people don't want it and then blame the technology or even claim that people are stupid for not seeing the benefits. The managers in this industry are stupid for not seeing the customer.

Re:I Want To Buy My Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29002123)


I am fucking sick to death of people looking at these services like the next big thing. They might publishers, not gamers.

All Gakai/OnLive do for gamers is erode their rights as a consumer, and turn them into renters instead of owners.

But, like so many other things lately, the sheeple just lap it up.


Re:I Want To Buy My Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29002189)

I read this article about a month ago
It focuses on On-live and brings up the same issues about pricing and purchases, pointing out you are only ever really rent server time.

The author seems to think that the evolution of the service will lead it to being akin to DVD rental shops. - over night and weekly rentals , this to me would be a good thing, as I usually finnish most campagns in less thatn 2 days, then never play it again unless I like the MP game.

There are more considerations like the mod community and piracy, it will eliminate both.
They don't want you to "walk into a store, pick up a box with a DVD in it" , they don't even want you to have the source material (exe's etc) and this will achieve that.
If they can overcome the lage and other problems you wont have a choice , publishers will flock to this.

Mix games & video content (1)

cbraescu1 (180267) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001663)

These services will / might succeed if they can be used also as video services. Since they also provide their own "DRM" that's accepted by the end-users, they could be in the position of allowing acces to video content while still keeping MPAA happy.

if they don't add video content to the mix they arer doomed, since they can't offer a unique competitive advantage over existing players in the field.

Capped internet (1)

Carra (1220410) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001729)

It can't work here in Belgium for the simple reason of capped internet. I've got a maximum of 30 gb/month as do all the big isps. Let's assume that these services need 4 mbit/s. That's like half an hour of playing every day, without downloading anything else. Unless if they can make a deal with these isps to let their traffic costfree, it just won't work.

Some games will work, some won't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001743)

And the most popular variants won't: FPS, racing.
Hell, even RTS games will suffer. (i certainly know those last few ms were what counted in some losses and wins on SupCom)

Unless they have created Tachyons or have some groundbreaking compression, i don't think it will work very well.
It might restart the PC games of yesterera, nice and simple games that are more game- than control-based, but that is about it.

The only other way i can see it being a success is if the developers of games make dedicated categories in their online sections for those who are going through things like OnLive. (detected directly, of course)

Still, bandwidth and latency will probably kill this, rather than the whole "IT IS DRM" thing or that you don't own it. (and i say this because people are perfectly happy with Steam)
Sending 1080p over at 60FPS is quite an intense operation, especially when you multiply it by all the users. Higher resolutions even worse.
As i said, unless they have some extreme compression, it will kill them unless they make users pay some crazy subscriptions to play. (yes, subscriptions, no one-timers here)

I say good luck to them, they will certainly need it.

Doubt it can really work as promised. (3, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001833)

The closest analog today is streaming video. And let's compare and contrast.

First, streaming pre-encoded, pre-rendered (if applicable) content is all they do. Companies trying to stream the video component of a game will require massively more amounts of computational power to do the live rendering and encoding. Also, the pre-encoding process takes advantage of both backward and forward prediction to build intermediate frames with full knowledge of what came before and what will come after a given frame. This is also something they will not have. This likely means their algorithm will not be able to compete. They say vague things like 'our algorithm is designed for gaming to get better results', but at best it sounds like they count on game output to look simplistic, which seems a poor assumption.

Video companies achieve remotely acceptable performance by extensive buffering to compensate for dips in network performance. Generally, while watching a live stream, there is always a few seconds of buffer between you and the actual end of stream thusfar. They will not have this luxury in a gaming scenario, the alternative would be to drop frames in a network performance dip.

I've only seen this work on the low-quality youtube videos (i.e. the buffer never getting drained). 'High-def' (often 720x480 is called high-def in streaming world btw, much much lower than consoles and pcs are pumping out for games commonly today) almost always stutters or has a very long pause up front while it builds up a sufficient buffer to not get exhausted. In other words, even with the advantage of not worrying about realtime considerations.

As mentioned above, the standard for remote video resolution is a *lot* lower than the standard for gaming. I expect to run at 1920x1080 on a TV and better on my PC.

Of course, as others have mentioned, simple network latency round-trip is way too high for control to feel good (I heard enough complaints about a slightly lagged TV), however this is insignificant compared to the buffering latencies that video requires to work. For video streaming, this is not an issue. The only way to mitigate this would be to have datacenters everywhere with special deals with ISPs, very much driving up costs to be even more non-competitive.

Finally, streamed video *still* has more artifacts than buying the disc or downloading the thing in advance. Trying to fit in a realistic bandwidth footprint in a streaming video context requires much lower bitrates than are comfortable. If OnLive expects to get at Video gaming resolutions.... Well... I suspect it will look badly.

Re:Doubt it can really work as promised. (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 5 years ago | (#29001843)

Oh, and just to add, if they are fully anticipating dropping frames, this means they will be able to take advantage of keyframes in encoding less often to avoid large penalties for having to drop frames. If they had a keyframe every 30 seconds, one dip could knock off video quality for 30 seconds. Therefore, their encoding requirements will be even higher.

Numbers from my arse (1)

mlk (18543) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002147)

I'm going to make up some numbers pulling from Amazon EC2 and current costs of what I see as equivalent hardware. During this I'm going to ignore the cost of buying a game as this will add a whole new level of complexity that I will skim over at the end of this post.

During this I will make the following assumptions

Both consoles will be used for 40 hours a month.

Both consoles will be used for both online and single player.

I am not an economist as such the number will be wrong, the maths broken and overly simplified but as this is all for my own fun I think I can get away with it. Please correct my mistakes.

The total cost of ownership of a system can be split into the fixed costs (the price of the system) and the operation costs (the price of running the system - such as electricity).

A consoles fixed costs are quite high, a new 60 gig 360 is $300. The running costs for a 360 are the broadband connection(1) at about $15 a month and the electricity need to feed it. A hunt about put the electricity cost at $1.7 a month(2). Finally for the 360 you have XBox Live Gold at $4.17(4) as multiplayer is required.

The Cloud system will also require some hardware in the form of a IP-enabled MPEG player with a controller. This is an advanced DVD or Blu-ray player so I would guesstimate a cost of $70. It is very likely that the end user would not pay for this directly but for the sake of argument we will leave it as a fixed cost.
As with the 360 we will have a broadband connection at $15 a month and the electricity. I will use the electric cost of a PlayStation 2 as I think the two would be approximately equally powered. Plus the new system will likely also use things like wireless controllers offsetting any gains by modern construction methods. As such it will cost just $0.45 a month to run.
On top of this the rental of a computer is required. For this I will use the high end Amazon EC2 VM instance. I think it is unlikely that this will be powerful enough to run a video game and compress the video as such a device does not contain a dedicated video card but should company dedicate itself to gamer VM instances it is likely they can push the price down into the same range.
We state above that the machine will be used for 40 hours, so 40 hours of CPU time each month. On top of this I will estimate that one hour of gaming can be sent as 0.5GB of video(3) and 0.01GB of incoming user IO (controller, voice etc). I will assume no IO internally to Cloud or use of extra Amazon features. This gives a monthly cost of $13.04.

In summary with have -
Console: $300 + $20.87 a month ($250.44 a year).
Cloud: $70 + $28.49 a month ($341.88 a year).

We now need to look at the life expectancy of each device and would the local Cloud device survive the regular hardware refreshes that happen in the console market. If we start simple and give both a life expectancy of five years then the total cost of the console is $1552.20 and the total cost of the Cloud is $1779.4.
If we now assume that the local Cloud device can survive the refresh, but the 360 is replaced then the future five-yearly costs of the console is $1552.20 (the full cost above) and the Cloud is $1709.40 (just the operating cost).

Games add some extra complications to the equation. Plus the cost of games on the Cloud is unknown with ideas such as unlimited rental being included in a monthly cost of the device.

Digitally distributed games (such as Cloud games) do not have resell rights. Some people include the amount they can sell a game back as part of the overall game price, this is not possible in a digital distribution model. Also video games would only have one distributer (the owner of the cloud the user is connected too), unlike shop bought games where competition between stores come into play. Linked the previous point, prices do not degrade as quickly on digital stores as they brick and mortar stores. Finally you have the lack of piracy for Cloud games, hopefully leading to a better price for the honest consumer.

1) I'm assuming in both cases the users want to use online aspects such as multiplayer gaming. So I will use a standard 8Mb broadband for both system. The reality is a lower and cheaper 1Mb connection will be fine for online gaming on local console but the Cloud system will likely tax such a connection and instead want ASDL2+ or cable.
2) Gizmodo: Console Power Usage
3) Personally I feel this is VERY low and likely not achievable if clear, artifact free video is required at HD (1080) resolutions.
4) Based on the yearly cost of $50 divided by 12.

Re: Numbers from my arse (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002461)

The xbox membership cost is not universal either, PS3 and Wii have no such cost. Also, the broadband is optional on the consoles, as they can play offline. Multiplayer requires less than the Onlive does in terms of latency and throughput.

Large dent in monthly bandwidth quota (1)

Grieviant (1598761) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002307)

According to the Wiki entry for OnLive: "Broadband connections of 1.5 Mbps dials the image quality down to Wii levels while 4-5 Mbps pipes are required for HD resolution."

Assuming 4 Mbps (500 kBps) and a monthly quota of 60 GB, this equates to:
60*10^9 Bytes / 500*10^3 Bytes/sec / 60 sec/min / 60 min/hr = 33.3 hours of gameplay.

Even if you're not a hardcore gamer and you average less than 1 hour per day, a 2GB per hour dent is still pretty stiff.

Is this really a big deal? (1)

Dusthead Jr. (937949) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002427)

Every since I've read about OnLive I've wanted to know why this is big deal. I've wanted to know what is it that their little box can do that is SO impossible to do on an existing game console. What is it that will make Nintendo, Sony, and MS suddenly stop innovating?

People get caught up on the latency issue, and as far as I know if OnLive licks is that will be a bigger deal than the gaming aspect. But latency aside, what does OnLive offer that can't be don't by the Big 3? Is it a cheaper console? I imagine that with the low hardware requirement for OnLive that the Wii could run a similar program with just an update. How OnLive anyone compete that? MS and Sony can't.

Then there's the matter of games. The Big 3 have them, OnLive needs them. In fact what on live is likely to have are PC games, which are cool in there on right, but according to the "popular believe" PC gaming is dead, or dying or whatever. Apparently everyone is in to consoles these days. If OnLive is to succeed does that mead everyone will drop their consoles and start playing PC games en mass? I would like to see that, honestly being a PC gamer myself.

If the Big 3 somehow loses to OnLive the they deserve to lose. That means that they did nothing to activly compete. But I don't that that they won't stop competing.

Re:Is this really a big deal? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002949)

All OnLive brings to the table is that the games aren't on the consumer (yes that'd be the right term for that...) end of the equation- they all reside back on a server farm back at a data center. So it's almost impossible to "pirate" the game.

This is a DRM snake oil play- that isn't even really workable because of bandwidth and latency concerns. And not just on the client side... You're going to need to have multiple OC-192's at any major location just to make the service usable. You can only really service about 6k standard def players with a single OC-192.

I'm wondering what in the hell the publishers are thinking, myself. They're currently predicated on a quarter million units sold being barely profitable for most of their titles- and a million plus being a good release of something. You're not going to get that level of people taking you up on this, or the level of money from that sort of thing doing this route.

I don't see this working when doing the same O LAN (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002451)

I don't see this working when doing the same Over LAN with stuff like photoshop, cad and stuff with high bandwidth and cpu needs is not that good and hear you are talking about ISP with more traffic and lower speeds as well caps.

THE real gaming site is Kongregate! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002489)

As you might know, many people just want to play small games in-between things, not invest too much time, etc. And for those people, Flash games are perfect.
According to the German IT/telco industry association "Bitkom", 73% of all online-players from 14 years upwards prefer games in the browser [] .

And while a call my self a pro gamer, I love Kongregate [] . Those games have no ultra-realistic graphics, no real stories, etc. So they have to concentrate on good gameplay / mechanics, and then give it nice aesthetics. They can also explore new ideas rather quickly, without a 3-5 year development cycle.

But as usual, xkcd has said it better already: []
It's really true.
And this is, where a big part of the future of (casual) gaming lies. At least in my eyes.

P.S.: I hope I make sense. I just woke up and my brain has only just started booting. Which makes my sentences somewhat strangely structured. Especially these foreign language capabilities.

Ansoff's Product-Market Growth Matrix (1)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 5 years ago | (#29002903)

TFA would have been better referring to the Ansoff's Product-Market Growth Matrix [] .

Market penetration - exclusive games to attract gamers from other consoles.
Product development - selling new kinds of peripherals to make more from existing customers.
Market development - Guitar Hero has also sold a lot of consoles to previously non-gamers, Wii took Nintento away to new casual market (doing this via product development, but the major change was their market).
Diversification - media centre, though really it's the consoles themselves which are a diversification for MS and Sony whom previously focused on different products to different markets.

At the moment Natal seems to be intent on spanning most categories but I think it's primary objective is market development.

I don't see anything to suggest that OnLive is the trigger for any of this, the competition between MS, Sony and Nintendo is. My guess is OnLive will either blow them out of the water or be insignificant. In the (however unlikely) event that OnLive works as hyped at a reasonable price, it should have the potential to do anything the console guys are doing so the "big three" will only have title exclusives to defend with.

Ludicrous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29003445)

The concept that the increase in gaming peripherals is in any way connected to services like OnLive is just ludicrous.

One might look to, say, the $1+bn success of the Guitar Hero franchise and the staggering success of the Wii (with its new input method) as a potential reason the industry might have an interest in games with peripherals.


Lack of good judgement (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#29003811)

Has no one grabbed these people by the ears and told them : "What you are trying to do is stupid by design" ?  I've eviscerated clients over far milder offences.

Yes, the latency issue is obvious.  Even if they can get it down to 30ms round-trip (perfectly feasible in the U.S.), it's still too much.  Why ?  Well let's assume 30 fps progressive display, that means every single action will be at least three frames behind.  Why ?  Because games already work on a precisely synced loop.  The input will get there 15ms late, so it misses "its" rendering cycle and has to wait for the next pass.  Then the video result needs to be compressed and sent back with another 15ms delay.  Even assuming instant video compression (yeah right!), by the time you see the result of your action, the game engine is processing the 3rd frame ahead.  In reality the video compression probably adds another 15 to 20ms at the very least, so you're now four frames behind - IF you're lucky.

Then there's the infrastructure to deliver this remote gaming experience.  You need: big honkin' game machines (one per simultaneous client), big honkin' top-tier bandwidth, big honkin' support crew.  None of these things are cheap, and since your servers need to be physically close to the customer base, everyone's going to be playing around the same time slots, and your game servers will sit idle about 2/3rds of the time.  How can that be profitable ?

I think from an conceptual/philosophical perspective, instant anywhere gaming is a futuristic ideal.  From a practical standpoint, it doesn't fly due to the damning technological limitations.  It is a service that could be far better delivered by individual ISPs, just a hop or two away from the client, and that might be a good partnership strategy for this company, but to self-deliver the service like any other web service, that's suicide.

Re:Lack of good judgement (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#29003817)

Grr... stupid code mode. Why can't we have the drop-down like old slashdot ?
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