A potentially revolutionary way to stream next-gen video games to hardware technically too underpowered to run those titles natively, thin client OnLive might be the best thing to happen to gaming since, well, the Internet.
Essentially, the technology works by making a game into an interactive, streaming video, rendering all the gameplay on a beefy server, compressing the video and shooting it off to you as you play. Imagine, for example, playing a shooter like Crysis — which can cripple even a top-of-the-line PC — on your iPhone. Actually, scratch that, because you don’t really have to: at this year’s DICE Summit in Las Vegas, OnLive CEO Steve Perlman gave a brief demonstration of Crysis running on Apple’s handheld.
If the idea of playing full-featured, next-gen games on your iPhone doesn’t get you excited, it gets better: Perlman has also confirmed that OnLive will support tablets, clearly giving a wink and a nod to the iPad.
The only question is: will OnLive be able to solve the latency issues inherent in the thin client gaming approach? Perlman swears it’s feasible, as long as each OnLive user is within 100 miles of a server, but a high ping’s a deadly thing in an FPS. OnLive could very well be a revolution… but at the end of the day, I think we’ll be more likely to be playing slower-paced games like Civilization V through our iPad OnLive client than Crysis.