If OnLive's innovative no-disc, no-hard-drive gaming service takes off, it may be very difficult for anyone else do create the same kind of game console. That's because OnLive has just been granted a sweeping "fundamental patent" for the technology behind the service.
To play OnLive games on your TV, all you need is an OnLive box and controller. Everything else is managed through a streaming online server. It's what the tech heads like to call "in the cloud."
When you want to play a game, you don't pop in a disc or access a file on your console. Instead, OnLive will pull the game from the World Wide Web. Or, if you prefer to play on your PC, you don't even need any hardware at all; you just need to install the OnLive software. In return, you pay a monthly fee for access to the service's entire library.
Given the uprise in popularity of the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live Arcade, buying actual physical, tangible games is becoming a thing of the past. So OnLive seems like it could possibly be the next big thing. It's something that Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo could potentially want to look to as well. That is, if it wasn't for the latest patent achieved by OnLive.
The company filed for a patent in 2002 to secure safety for its technology, and it was just approved this week. OnLive CEO Steve Perlman called it a "fundamental patent" in an interview, and said it covers the entire process of delivering games over a cloud-based service.
So far, OnLive remains a relatively niche service. To some, it may be ahead of its time. Many consumers out there still prefer to be able to hold a product in their hands or be able to actually browse around a brick-and-mortar store when buying new games. And the idea of paying a monthly fee to play games may rub some the wrong way (we're not talking to you, WoW addicts). But it's an interesting start, and thanks to this newest patent OnLive is certainly at the forefront of the digital gaming revolution.
Dec 15, 2010