Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Game Grail?

Because I'm in the incipient stages of 'old fogydom,' I don't play video games much. But to my kids they are the very oxygen of life. I've been told that Halo™ had an impact on their generation equivalent to what Star Wars™ had on mine.

We have a Wii game console and before that owned its ancestor, the Gamecube. Even though we love our Wii, my son will lament every so often that most of the really good Star Wars games are only made for XBox and Playstation; most can't play on the Wii.

He also tells me -- and my daughter (a Sims fanatic) agrees -- that the best game playing system isn't a console at all: it's the good old PC. But that means they're forever pressing me to buy them a high-end gaming system because our current boring, ordinary, everyday computers not only don't look like they were taken from an alien space craft (as they should), but their processors are too slow, the graphics card isn't good enough, the sound is tinny, etc etc ad infinitum.

But now there may be a solution. Well, not to the soporific design, uninspiring graphics card and lack of Dolby surround sound, but possibly to requiring a particular game console in order to play a specific game. A company called Onlive has announced that you can now play the top games streamed to you on the Net. All you need is their small "micro-console" and a decent broadband connection -- and you're free! Gamesters that have tried it say there is no lag, which is extremely important. As my son will tell you, "If you have too much lag, you play like a newb."

For us incipient old fogies though the key factor will be how much it costs to access streaming games. If it's a reasonable one-time fee for each game (you know, like buying them now at the local GameCrazy) I might be able to see it. Even a very small subscription fee for unlimited play might work, although I like that idea less. But if Onlive turns out to be a leech that attaches itself to your wallet and bleeds you dry we probably will have to stick with the Wii.

For the curious, Onlive can be found here.


UPDATE: OnLive is now OnDead.


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