Chances are, many of you are familiar with OnLive. For those who aren't, it's a streaming games service using cloud gaming, instead of the traditional hardware setup. The advantage of this is that cloud gaming effectively negates the need for high-performance machines; anyone with a broadband connection can, in theory, experience quality gaming without shelling out the cash for a rig, as all processing is done on the company's machines. There have been problems with the service, from lag and quality issues, to the simple headache of having your gaming sessions tied to your internet connection (thus making old fogies like me reluctant to sign up), but it does have the potential to make gaming more accessible to a less "financially blessed" audience. Now Walmart, the company that has always struck me as a sort of Shinra run by Larry the Cable Guy, is getting in the game. VentureBeat has learned that the company is teaming up with Gaikai, a start-up cloud gaming company. The article states that Dead Space II is currently available to try, though after a virtual trek to the Game Center, I've found nothing but videos and information on the title - nor have I found any streaming games, with the exception of Plants vs. Zombies and Tom Clancy's Hawx 2. The rest of the Game Center is pretty well laid out, with screenshots, trailers, information, a countdown timer for pre-orders, and videos, including an "introduction" video for each game.
I'm not tremendously hot on Walmart - every time I've set foot in one of their stores, I've felt the eerie discomfort of treading on the grave of the American Dream - but to depart from the realm of snark for a brief moment, it is encouraging to see that this model of "try before you buy" might one day become the norm. When I was a lad, we had to wait for our monthly CD from PC Gamer (extra points to anyone who remembers Coconut Monkey) - and we were grateful, albeit reluctantly so. The rise of the internet brought with it the convenience of downloadable demos, but the tedium of waiting for a massive file to worm its way into my computer's mechanical brain is still a bore, and because of this, I'm happy to overlook the potential pitfalls of cloud gaming for the sake of brevity.