&t Phil on Games: August 2011 <$BlogMetaData$;

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The future of game distribution

It’s been a year since my last post, so I figured it’s time I throw something up here so my loyal fan(s?) know I’m alive.

This past year has seen the emergence of a new, amazing technology… OnLive! Streaming gaming is the future; no new hardware to buy, and you can instantly access whatever game you want to play without waiting for an installer, or worrying if the game will be compatible. It just works, and works with the push of a button. Most exciting to me is that the OnLive service is hardware agnostic. As long as you have a decent cable internet connection or better, it works. And it works on your computer, laptop, and in more and more cases, is built right into your TV set.

This is extremely important because it finally enables the games industry to have a ubiquitous format, just like DVD’s are/were to the movie industry. While gaming is extremely popular and profitable, it has always been held back by the hardware. You can sell only so many units of a game as there are specific game systems out there. If you know that 30 million people worldwide own an Xbox, you know you can’t sell more than 30 million units… you game MUST have an Xbox to work. If I make a game for a computer, it has to be compatible with the hardware or it won’t work. If I make a DVD movie, it will work on ANY DVD player, regardless of who makes it. OnLive’s technology breaks down the barriers of hardware limitations, and promises a distribution platform that works, in theory, on any internet connected device, just like my DVD movie will play in any DVD player regardless of manufacturer. It means a game published for OnLive has the potential to reach many more customers than any previous game platform.

The main thing standing in its way is the need for a good internet connection to be available in most homes across the world, but I see this barrier braking down more and more each year. I’m not sure if OnLive itself will be the “go to” platform of the future, but the streaming gaming technology they ushered in is undeniably the direction the industry is going. Its reach will decrease price point for the consumer while increasing profits, and eliminates traditional pirating, which will ultimately lead to developers creating more ambitious games they’d previously had a tougher time justifying the costs for.

That being said, I’m still looking forward to playing the huge list of holiday games coming out this year for my PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 :)