Google TV announced at CES that users will soon have access to OnLive, the cloud-based gaming on demand (GoD) service that bypasses the need for a console, eliminating the need for yet another black box at the bottom of TVs. OnLive is a ‘console-class’ service and so it doesn’t require discs, downloads or have separate hardware requirements. You simply buy a game and start playing straight away as the game is streamed to your device (TV/PC/MAC/Tablet/Mobile). OnLive will eventually be a standard feature for Google TV but for now you can only download the ‘OnLive Viewer’ which enables you to watch videos and use the social features.
However, reviews of OnLive suggest there are a few compromises with OnLive as the graphics tend not be quite as good as what you’d experience on a console, there are fewer games available, plus some users report a slight lag issue if you don’t have a fast internet connection. However, in spite of the limitations, OnLive has generally been well-received and as broadband speeds increase it looks like cloud-based gaming will be the future once the teething problems are overcome.
Although OnLive doesn’t have ad-supported games yet, the partnership is a reminder that the potential for advertising on connected TV games is massive. Gaming is highly immersive and advertisers know that in-game, pre or mid-roll ads are likely to receive dedicated attention that isn’t competing with a second screen. Plus games offer an alternative route to connecting with hard to reach demographics, particularly young people, who have been difficult to access anywhere other than via social networks and mainstream TV.
Google also announced that next month it will be launching its own game for Google+, which will be based on steering a ball around Google maps (fasten those seatbelts!). Although the game is presented as Google having a bit of fun akin to the daily homepage doodles, it would be more surprising if Google didn’t harbour plans for full-on games development in order to have games exclusive to Google+, Google TV and Android.
If that sounds inconceivable, remember Google has committed to spending $100 million on original video content for YouTube. Here’s a video of the game that won’t have EA quaking in their boots just yet, but might one day be remembered as being symbolically important as the first of many: