This Weeks Geek - Streaming the Future

Netflix started it, they got people used to streaming their entertainment to their homes. Then OnLive and Gaikai started streaming video games to our homes. They require a decent-ish network connection (5 MBps for OnLive), but they allow you to play full games on lower ends devices (like a netbook). OnLive has it's own client that is used on Windows, OS X, Android, and iOS in order to run any game that they provide while Genkai currently runs within a browser. Right now the content that they provide comes from other developers. Now what sort of future does streaming have in video games?

What brings up this conversation? Well Sony recently purchased Gaikai for $380 million dollars, and that brings up the question of, why? Theories have surfaced from using it to stream full Playstation games to Sony TV's and hand-held systems to using it for quicker demo distribution. These are great ideas, for people in areas with high speed Internet connections. But people on slower networks or public wifi won't really have the needed bandwidth to access the needed information. Given that what else could it be used for? What other ways can a cloud network be used to improve gaming, but with a lower bandwidth requirement?

There could be a unified computing between a new game console (PS4 maybe) and the cloud. What if they used part of the network to add some power to the game system. Maybe have the core files locally on the console while having additional data processed and sent to the system from servers. This may allow a lower power (and thus cheaper) system to be created. This is a fun idea, but I could see it as being very hard to properly initiate. For one if there is a hiccup in the stream we could have major graphical or audio glitches. While this may not always be as bad as the game not working at all, I think I have been annoyed far more when the sound failed or something did not render.

How about you? What possibilities do you see for the future of streaming gaming? Do you foresee games streaming to our standard consoles? Do you see it mostly used for demos? Or is their another option that I have not guessed?