WTF is... cloud gaming?

Look, ma, no console!

Company in the cloud

Is there too much latency, as Brown claims? OnLive's Steve Perlman has described end-to-end lag as under 80ms, usually in the region of 35-40ms. This should be perfectly acceptable and almost unnoticeable, yet users, even those with high-speed connections, still complain of lag issues and say they rarely measure latencies better than 150ms.

OnLive

Users can now upload 'brag clips' direct to YouTube

Latency will be a concern for all cloud gaming services until very high speed broadband lines become commonplace, but it's less of an issue for the demo-centric Gaikai than it is for OnLive's full play offering. OnLive has its eye firmly fixed on the time when any player's broadband is up to snuff, not only to kill latency but to allow play in full HD and up. But Gaikai, by dealing with what the internet can deliver now, has an opportunity to get gamers used to the idea before evolving into a full cloud gaming system at a time when its customers aren't going to be disappointed.

Speed is crucial, and if latency concerns can be overcome, cloud-computing could have as big a part to play in the future of gaming, as e-books have for reading, and MP3 and H.264 for video. We've come a long way since WildTangent started charging for games played over the cloud. Its successors, like OnLive and Gaikai, may not kill off the console or the gaming PC, but as internet speeds inevitably increase, they could turn console gaming into a minority interest.

Gaikai

Gaikai can be played in a browser

One thing is for sure though: the ability to put your feet up at 3am and instantly play a game you've just seen advertised is right around the corner. Cloud gaming has arrived, and the games biz might never be the same again. ®

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