It's funny how resistant we usually appear when it comes to change, yet how quickly we adapt when said change slips in under the radar. I remember when music was undergoing the shift from physical media to downloadable. I asked one of my college classes what they thought about this trend. A full 80 percent of the class indicated they would never download their music because they really liked (among other reasons) owning a physical copy. The following year I asked the same question and the number of die-hard supporters of CDs dropped. By this time, iTunes was beginning to take hold. Downloading music was suddenly safe, simple, and not terribly expensive.
When games began being offered as downloads instead of disc, I was met with the same resistance. My student would prefer to own a physical copy, or the amount of data to download was too large. Once Steam worked out all of its kinks and began to offer a huge selection of game at competitive prices, my students eagerly jumped on the bandwagon
Here we are now at the onset of a cloud revolution where games, music, video and more are being made available via a stream. You don't need to wait for something to download, you just log in and go. While my students were quick to embrace the likes of Netflix, cloud gaming services like OnLive remain in question. The reason? You guessed it. My students prefer "owning" their digital copies. They feel safer knowing their game is located on their hard drive and not "in the cloud."
So how long will it take for us to adapt to this new way on consuming media? My guess is, if OnLive can make a compelling case for ease-of-use and put games at a competitive price point, people will make the jump. It would speed things up if Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo stepped up with their own cloud services. I don't know what they are planning but they would be nuts not to move in this direction.