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Could the Xbox 360 replicate OnLive?

Could the Xbox 360 replicate OnLive?

Could Microsoft be working on a competitor to OnLive using the new Instant Streaming service on the Xbox 360?

Microsoft may be looking to replicate the OnLive games streaming service on the Xbox 360 it seems, though Microsoft's John Schappert has said it's far to early to confirm anything along those lines.

Announced back in March, OnLive is a possibly revolutionary system that could potentially change the face of gaming by allowing customers to remotely rent time on games rather than buying them outright. The games are run on server farms far away, with player input getting piped over to these farms via a broadband connection. Game content is then essentially sent back to players as a video feed.

While the OnLive system certainly sounds market-changing and cool though, there have been some questions raised about how the technology could possibly work - especially when it comes to the thorny issues of lag, video compression and how well the product would do on a market already crowded by Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and PC manufacturers. Things haven't been aided by the fact that OnLive has so far only been demonstrated under very controlled conditions.

During E3 however, Microsoft announced a similar service called Instant Streaming, which allows to full 1080p content to be streamed to Xbox 360 consoles instantly - no delays, discs or compression at all. Microsoft weren't coy about the potential of the service either, hinting that streaming fully-downloadable games could be coming in the future.

Putting two and two together, Kotaku approached Microsoft's corporate VP of Xbox Live, John Schappert, to see if Microsoft might not be attempting to beat OnLive to market, or to at least create a rival technology that would run on the Xbox 360. He didn't exactly deny it.

"I think [that] you connecting the technology dots is astute," Schappert said. "But it's nothing we're ready to announce or talk about today… I think that a broadband-connected console to the television enables us to do many things."

"As the bandwidth continues to increase and latency continues to decrease, I think it opens up new avenues of possibility. And of course I've got 5000 smart people back home that will tell me all the crazy things that can't be done. But there's also just as many that can solve all these technological problems and deliver the amazing innovation that they're doing. I think anything is possible but nothing that we're going to announce right now. I think just delivering 1080p [without delay], something that no other device has done, is pretty amazing."

Would you be interested in using a service like OnLive, or a Microsoft-run competitor, or are you still dubious about whether such a product could actually work as well as they claim? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

17 Comments

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Flibblebot 18th June 2009, 13:05 Quote
I'm not even sure OnLive can replicate OnLive in the real world, but I suppose if anyone's got the balls to try, I suppose it would be Microsoft.
cyrilthefish 18th June 2009, 13:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
I'm not even sure OnLive can replicate OnLive in the real world
+1

Though assuming Onlive finds a way to overcome the lag/bandwidth nightmare of the current broadband infrastructure by some miracle, i see no technical reason why the 360 couldn't be a client for it.

After all, the 360 hardware is going to be complete overkill just to decompress streaming video and pass on controller input data
Bauul 18th June 2009, 13:13 Quote
As a user of remote applications on a daily basis (Citrix), I'd be happy to play something like a turn based RPG, or even a real time RTS, but nothing more. The simple nature of the Internet, as in you can't ever guarantee any single byte travelling from A to B will ever take exactly the same time as any other byte, means the input/output of the system would be too unpredictable for twitch based gaming.
adam_bagpuss 18th June 2009, 13:14 Quote
lol this is so gunnabe fail.

streaming 1080p content over current broadband system would be a joke.

your talking around a 7mbps data rate. have the compressed it more ?

im on 8mb broadband and my download is around 0.8-1.0 mbps. how would this service possibly work for me
sandys 18th June 2009, 13:14 Quote
I don't see why not, you can already remote play PS3 games over wifi on your PSP or mobile phone, sure its not perfect as there is a bit of lag now and again along with pixelation due to bandwidth is not there but games and tv work fine.

With a better infrastructure you could do these things at better quality but 1080p and 60fps along with DTS sound etc is a long way off I reckon, certainly in the UK.
BlackMage23 18th June 2009, 14:00 Quote
I just can't see this working at this moment in time. Maybe in 10 years if we end up with decent cables in the ground, but even then I can see there being a lot of problems, and I think most people will just prefer to have a hard copy (that they can then sell on once they have finished with it).
dyzophoria 18th June 2009, 14:21 Quote
the software technology maybe up to speed, but the current infrastructure of the internet will be the likely bottleneck of the onlive, considering too that alot of ISPs now turn to throttling P2P for example, rather than upgrade their current hardware =\
p3n 18th June 2009, 14:30 Quote
Can't wait for BT to chime in on all these new Streaming and SaaS startups.
I-E-D 18th June 2009, 14:56 Quote
Haha, thats gunna be a big fail. Onlive have been doing this for years, Microsoft (even with all their resouces/money/people) will fail miserably.
ch424 18th June 2009, 16:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by adam_bagpuss
lol this is so gunnabe fail.

streaming 1080p content over current broadband system would be a joke.

your talking around a 7mbps data rate. have the compressed it more ?

im on 8mb broadband and my download is around 0.8-1.0 mbps. how would this service possibly work for me

Your grammar is so poor that what you're saying doesn't even make sense. "have the compressed it more"? What does that mean?

You can stream 720p in easily-good-enough quality at 3Mbit. My 8Mbit ADSL broadband gives me 6-7Mbit most of the time, so I don't see bandwidth as being a problem.

The other problem is latency - in encoding, transmitting, then decoding the video stream. This article details how you can encode HD video in under 2ms, my current ping to a server in london is 12ms, and decoding video is fast (<10ms) as well. These sum to well under 20ms which is fast enough to game with.

It's technically possible, and will only get more possible with time, so while it's fair to be sceptical, it's not fair to have a misinformed ramble about why it definitely won't ever work.
aggies11 18th June 2009, 18:47 Quote
Seems a bit redundant to me. "I will stream/remote play my game service to avoid needing to own the expensive hardware myself, but first I need an Xbox 360!...".

So Microsoft will play the game on an Xbox 360 remotely, then stream the video back to your own Xbox 360 at a 1080p data rate? This seems a bit strange, using 2 consoles to play a game instead of the traditional 1. Twice the hardware costs for the same result?

While this would save you the initial download delivery time, the 1080p stream itself is so data intensive that those savings would very quickly be eaten up. You end up transferring more data then the entire game, pretty quickly, even if the game was Blu-ray in size!
Xlog 18th June 2009, 23:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ch424

You can stream 720p in easily-good-enough quality at 3Mbit. My 8Mbit ADSL broadband gives me 6-7Mbit most of the time, so I don't see bandwidth as being a problem.

The other problem is latency - in encoding, transmitting, then decoding the video stream. This article details how you can encode HD video in under 2ms, my current ping to a server in london is 12ms, and decoding video is fast (<10ms) as well. These sum to well under 20ms which is fast enough to game with.

It's technically possible, and will only get more possible with time, so while it's fair to be sceptical, it's not fair to have a misinformed ramble about why it definitely won't ever work.

Only you forgot to include frame production and transfer times, with 8Mb/s connection (assuming thats the max. connection bandwidth), 3Mb/s video at 60FPS, the time it would take for server to generate (60^-1 = ~17ms for one frame), encode(~1ms) and transfer (3Mb/s * 1s / 8Mb/s / 60 fps = ~6ms, + connection lag) a frame to your computer would probably be about 30ms alone, if not more, plus ~6ms for your input data to get from your computer to server + 6-8ms for decoding/displaying of the frame = 42-44ms input lag, so a game, which is displayed at 60FPS would feel like game played at 24FPS at best .The frame production times could probably be lowered by using some sort of technique, and transfer times by getting a better connection (like 100Mb/s LAN, even if it is limited to 8Mb/s), but just assume that all is like stated at the beginning.
aggies11 18th June 2009, 23:55 Quote
re: Xlog

Not to make this a re-hash of the original On Live debate threads, but if one carefully reads the linked article, the "zero latency" is defined as the time between the *start* of production of the source frame to the *start* of transmission of the encoded frame.

Meaning that the very point of this technique is that you don't have to wait until the entire frame of video is produced before you start encoding it. Encoding starts before the frame is completed. So the entire video encode process has a latency (lag time, delay, etc) of that 2ms figure. The novel aspects of this is that they are still able to generate good looking video without needing an entire frame before computing the encoding procedure.

You still have to deal with input and transmission time of course, but it does cut it down low enough that under *ideal* conditions it could be quite playable.
Flibblebot 19th June 2009, 11:54 Quote
Considering that the UK government's recent plans cite a 2Mbps connection as being "fast", it doesn't look like we'll be getting anywhere near "ideal" conditions any time soon :(
adam_bagpuss 19th June 2009, 11:55 Quote
well thank you gammer police i shall hand myself into the authorities right away.

im so sorry i missed a "Y" of the end of "the" so it reads "have they compressed it more ?" which was in reference to my quote of around 7mbps data rate ?

also 720p is no way near as bandwidth hungry as 1080p so you cant compare that.

so if your broadband gives you 6-7Mb then your download is most likely around 600-700 kbps, this is not enough to stream 1080p content @ 60FPS
mclean007 3rd July 2009, 11:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by adam_bagpuss
well thank you gammer police i shall hand myself into the authorities right away.

im so sorry i missed a "Y" of the end of "the" so it reads "have they compressed it more ?" which was in reference to my quote of around 7mbps data rate ?

also 720p is no way near as bandwidth hungry as 1080p so you cant compare that.

so if your broadband gives you 6-7Mb then your download is most likely around 600-700 kbps, this is not enough to stream 1080p content @ 60FPS
(1) lol @ "gammer police"
(2) 6-7 Mb is 6,000 - 7,000 kbps, not 600 - 700. You are probably confusing kbps with kBps. Or else your experience with "up to 8mbps" broadband must be frustrating indeed.
(3) most current console games don't play at 1080p60. 720p will be more than adequate for most situations. My understanding is that OnLive is capable of scaling the resolution, frame rate and bitrate to maximise quality over lower bandwidth connections.
an4rew 6th July 2009, 01:52 Quote
when you consider the scaling issue and if you already have a nice HD tv and a 360 why would you be interested in ONLIVE.

i think this will be one big disaster.
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