A new video game company is attempting to compete with the big three console makers by creating a “cloud-based” gaming system with on-demand access to games and no lag time. The company, called OnLive, says its service will let users play games on any TV and nearly any personal computer, even stripped-down models such as netbooks and PCs that lack graphics processors.
OnLive’s MicroConsole for TVs is slightly larger than an iPhone. It connects TVs and broadband connections to the OnLive service. Once connected to the Internet, OnLive delivers games run on servers in the cloud rather than on your local PC. These servers do the heavy processing and can stream the game play with just one millisecond of lag.
OnLive already has deals with 10 publishers to provide new game titles when they hit the shelves. Heavyweights such as Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Take Two, and THQ have already signed on with OnLive. Although you may not be very familiar with the company, they’ve been in development for seven years.
Steve Perlman, OnLive's founder and chief executive, describes how easy it is to use the OnLive service: “When you want to play a game, you just click a button and it plays instantly.” Better yet, Perlman said OnLive makes it possible for complex and graphic-rich games to play with excellent performance on low-end PCs or Macs.
OnLive is well-positioned for success with big-name investors such as Warner Brothers, Autodesk, and Maverick Capital. Perlman is well-known in Silicon Valley as well; he helped launch WebTV which was bought out by Microsoft in 1997. Perlman has also worked at Atari and Apple.
OnLive plans to formally launch its service this winter. Although pricing hasn’t been released, OnLive executives said the service will follow a subscription model with multiple tiers and be significantly cheaper than consoles. Users are also expected to save money with OnLive because they won’t have to purchase a console or high-end gaming PC or worry about downloads or discs. To use the OnLive service, users will need a high-speed broadband connection of 1.5 megabits per second for standard definition resolution or 5 megabits per second for a high-definition 720p picture.
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