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OnLive game system’s success will be based on brand

In an already crowded and competitive market, the OnLive game system hopes to make its mark in the video gaming industry. However, without a definable brand to drive preference, OnLive’s uphill battle to gain a user base might be a little bit too steep for them climb.

The OnLive gaming system is a unique concept. A user either connects via their computer (Mac or PC) or the OnLive set top box directly to OnLive servers.

From the servers, the user then can purchase digital access to video games. The unique aspect of the system is that the computing is done remotely on the OnLive servers allowing for computer system requirements that are extremely minimal and a set top box that is barely larger that a phone.

The tough sell for OnLive is that it asks a lot of its user without giving them a brand to make those sacrifices worthwhile or even meaningful. Contrary to the game systems out today, OnLive does not use discs; it requires a high speed internet connection to play; and with its singular focus on gaming, it cannot act as a media hub for the user.

Without clear brand positioning, the differences only create noise and do not foster change or create preference.

When the iTunes music store first came out, I was not sure what to think. The idea that I was losing something as tangible as a CD for a digital file felt like I was not getting my money’s worth. In the end, it was the Apple brand that got me over that hump and its simplicity which got me to stay.

onlive-no-streamingOnLive is selling to a user base that might already have a system and does not believe it needs a new one. It is also a consumer that might not believe the technology works as well as advertised. What Onlive has overlooked is that purchase decisions are emotional. The more its brand aligns with the highest emotional intensity of the consumer, the greater adoption it will see and the less weight placed on any negative counter points.

OnLive is entering the video game market late in this console cycle and in a current position of relatively low visibility. Without a brand identity to leverage its market challenges, OnLive will run the risk of replacing the Sega Dreamcast when referencing a great system that never could quite take hold.

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