Gaming Soars into the Clouds

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Please ensure your seat belts are buckled, your seat backs and tray tables are in an upright position as we prepare for a dramatic shift in the gaming industry.

Cloud-based gaming is hardly a new concept, but it is finally gaining good traction with developers and platform creators alike. Thanks to advances in other spaces like media distribution, productivity apps, high-speed internet and more, new companies are emerging that are tackling how to move games into the future.

OnLive (http://www.onlive.com/), an on-demand and cloud-based gaming company, is making a big splash in the industry. The fact that they are serving games to users without providing any discs is amazing, but more amazing is the opportunity that they have to really shape how this industry evolves over the next several years. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are going to keep a close eye on what OnLive is able to achieve with their service and hardware. OnLive is going to influence the big three in several spaces (if they are smart).

First: data, data, data. OnLive has a real opportunity to collect extremely valuable data on individual players. This data can be used in countless ways, only bound by our imagination. It can fuel a recommendation engine, it can fuel leader boards, it can fuel marketing and it can really do anything they want it to.

Second: social. OnLive is an extremely social platform. Allowing users to effortlessly tie into Facebook and connect with other friends that use the service. Now, Xbox is integrating with Facebook in a deeper fashion soon and PSN offers this too. The difference here is that OnLive can change the meaning of social integration. With OnLive, I could challenge a friend to a 1-on-1 match of NBA 2k12 via Facebook and he will be able to sign into OnLive and play me. He won’t have to go to GameStop, buy the game, load it, find me on Xbox Live and accept the challenge. OnLive has the ability to completely eliminate nearly all the hurdles to gaming with friends. This leads us to the third influence that OnLive can push into the industry.

Trial of new games. Remember going to Blockbuster and renting a game for a couple days to see if you liked it? 60 dollars is a big commitment for video game consumers. They need to know they are making the right choice when it comes to their entertainment. GameFly tried to fix that via the Netflix model, but they have the hurdle of discs and shipping times. Barrier destroyed with OnLive. Try any game you want. You might love the new Super Unicorn City Defender even if you are a sports-sim guy, and OnLive will make it easy to find out your new taste.

Game developers can also rejoice in the new levels of social influence that OnLive will bring to them. Imagine truly social out-of-game experiences that can break down the walls of platform loyalty. OnLive lets us get back to what matters, the game and the social experience in and out of the game.