OnLive is a gaming concept that is slowly gaining momentum. Originally launched in the US, this cloud-based platform is now paddling in European waters. So far, Australia has missed out, and with cloud gaming competition starting to crop up, OnLive will want to start ramping things up here, big time.
What is OnLive? If you haven’t encountered it before, it’s more-or-less the ‘invention’ of a cloud gaming platform. What this means is that you subscribe to the OnLive service, and ‘buy’ game licenses, rather than physical copies of the games. You can then play them on PC, or through a little dedicated console that acts as a receiver for the game content.
Rather than download the software, like you would with the PlayStation Network or XBLA, the game data is streamed to your PC/ console via the Internet. This is OnLive’s point of differentiation. Rather than have your games tied to a single device, you are able to play your collection on literally any Internet-ready device. Only have a netbook? You can still play Deus EX. Away from home and your TV and console? No worries, just load up the OnLive iPad app and keep playing from where you left off.
There are those that will still want physical copies of games, but OnLive nevertheless represents a very exciting possibility for those games that are by nature mobile and want to access their games from anywhere.
Except it’s not available in Australia yet. This could be a problem for the fledgling company’s future prospects here in this market, when there are competitors on the way. Microsoft, for instance, is looking dangerously like offering a similar service through Windows 8. OnLive is relying on that early mover advantage for breaking into new markets – it’s more or less established in America because there was no competition before. Two years from now the story might be very different, and a start up might struggle a whole lot more to find a foothold. This is what might happen to OnLive’s plans (if any) in Australia.
It’s a good time to start establishing a presence, too, beyond just making sure you’re first to market. Australia has a massive Internet infrastructure project currently underway, the National Broadband Network (NBN), that will substantially increase the number of people in the country able to connect to very fast download and upload speeds (almost every household will end up with access, in fact). Though the full rollout it years away yet, the timing would be right for OnLive to start building market presence now, so it can take full advantage of the market once the NBN really ramps up.
And Windows 8 is a while away still, with Microsoft slow in convincing its customers of its cloud message, or even its ability to provide mobile gaming experiences. If OnLive were to entrench itself now, it might just find a lucrative niche in a market that’s about to become very (and suddenly) connected.
People will try out OnLive just to experience what the NBN is capable of. People will appreciate that, thanks to the NBN, they can enjoy a consistent gaming experience almost anywhere in the country. It, along with Netflix, would be the perfect ‘toys’ to convince consumers of the benefits of the NBN.
In fact, given the Australian government is involved in a political battle to convince Australia of just that, OnLive might even be able to find some Government financial support.
For all these reasons I believe OnLive has a massive opportunity in Australia, if it moves now. If it takes too long, then the behemoth companies like Microsoft are just going to roll over it with their own cloud gaming platforms.