Last week we posted a pair of videos showing off OTOY, the upcoming server-side rendering service that can stream complex 3D games to your computer through any web browser. It’s a very impressive technology, requiring no plugins or lengthy installs — just open your browser and you can instantly jump into a game of Crysis or GTA4, streamed in HD quality.
Today we’ve gotten our hands on a clip proving that when OTOY says its technology will work on nearly any browser-enabled device, it means it. As the video below shows, OTOY is going to bring modern games like Crysis and GTA 4 to your mobile phone.
The phone in the video is a Samsung Omnia, which was released to the public last summer (in other words, you don’t need a cutting edge phone for the technology to work). The game is running through the phone’s built-in browser, with no installs required, and is being controlled via a Xbox gamepad connected wirelessly. OTOY Chief Strategy Officer Mark Tseng says that the company is working on a variety of control schemes, allowing users to control games using a phone’s accelerometer, onscreen gamepad, or external peripherals like the Xbox controller.
OTOY will work over Wi-Fi or a 3G connection (the company has it working speeds as low as 1.5 Megabits per second), though Tseng says Wi-Fi works best. He also notes that the technology will work on the iPhone, going on to emphasize that it should work on nearly any device — we can likely expect it to work on the Palm Pre, Android, and most other smartphones as well. At this point the company isn’t willing to divulge how pricing will work, though Tseng says more details will be coming soon.
This is very powerful stuff. Imagine being able to whip out your cell phone and join a quick raid in World of Warcraft, or play through a mission in Grand Theft Auto. I see this as being particularly appealing for MMO’s, which tend to attract especially devout players who would love to be able to access their accounts away from home.
Of course, mobile phones are becoming powerful enough to render 3D graphics on their own — the iPhone offers a slew of games with complex graphics, and the iPhone 3GS is able to support even more detailed games. But these graphics won’t rival modern console or PC games for many years, and you’re going to always have to continuously upgrade your hardware if you want to stay current. Once you have a phone that supports OTOY you shouldn’t have to worry about upgrading your hardware, as all game processing is being done remotely.
But streaming games on mobile phones come with its own set of issues. Unlike your home PC, where you can normally count on a stable connection, many of us play games on our phones while we’re in transit, when you can hardly rely on your cell phone’s reception to hold up. But even if they have to stay stationary or jump on a Wi-Fi connection, this is a service that I’m sure many gamers will be salivating over.