Startup seeks to stream video games to microconsoles

By Justin Mann on March 24, 2009, 5:19 PM
OnLive Inc wants to change the face of online gaming, or at least how we perceive it. As opposed to the traditional model of people owning dedicated hardware that connects to remote servers, OnLive believes they can get away with thin-client computing for video games, allowing graphic-intensive titles to be streamed over an internet connection and played on any computer regardless of how powerful it is. Using proprietary compression techniques, the company also claims it can overcome things such as both bandwidth limitations and lag problems with ease.

OnLive's service will also be available for television sets through a purportedly low-priced “MicroConsole” a fraction the size of traditional consoles. It would be subscription-based, though there are not many details aside from that. They'll be launching the service this year, and apparently already have deals going with companies like EA, Take Two, Eidos and more.

They face a tremendous amount of obstacles to overcome, for sure. The Internet infrastructure worldwide certainly doesn’t yet seem capable of delivering what they expect it to and the fact that it will be a closed system will also set them back a bit – there's already a huge installed base of PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 gamers and more that play online. Still, the concept itself is interesting. What's your take, could such a system be effective?

User Comments: 9

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Anshrew said:
I think that if they could pull this off, then they should come back in 4 or 5 years then try this. It would be bloody amazing, currently? too many reasons as to why it will fail.Ive got a good PC to play the latest games on, a 360 and a Wii.Why would I want to buy this? I get the same games, and I don't have to pay for online with the PC or Wii.Another thing is their claim of 1ms lag or less. That's not possible, I'm sorry but that's a LAN connection. Maybe, even if they do get that to work. what happens when everyone goes "It's awesome" and the servers get swarmed? There's no way to effectively foresee what kind of bandwidth you would need to host that. Add into that the ISP's (ComCast) which continually try to limit peoples bandwidth usage. I play games with all my spare time, sometimes 8 hours or more a day, what happens if my ISP decides I am "abusing my connection" or something along those lines? Would it affect my experience greatly?There are many questions to be asked about this service but the greatest one of all is.What if the location the servers are at has a power outage? If I have the game on my home console or PC it will not matter but if the servers themselves cut out for some reason then... well your screwed.
hellokitty[hk] said:
Wow, TBH, that would be cool if it works, but...will it work?Sounds too hard and expensive to pull of for all but a small number of high paying customers, with the money you pay a year, might as well upgrade your computer every year.and yes, comcast is evil =.=.
9Nails said:
Paint me as a skeptic, but I think that this is mostly possible to do. I've been playing with streamed applications from Citrix, and this delivery sounds no different. Instead of streaming the entire 4GB DVD image of the game, you're only going to start out with the game engine (which is very small), the audio (which can be compressed easily), and the graphics (this would fill the bulk of the stream.) A short delay, theoretically, would be all that is needed to get some data into your cache to start a game. As you're entertained by some ad's or introductory video the majority of the first level would have been delivered and ready for you to play. Controls could be local, so lag times should be zero.Defining the cost in today's market acts as the fence that I sit upon. Console games have shown to be nearly recession proof, but subscription based games have suffered of late.
captain828 said:
If it will work well than it seems like a success... but we have yet to see anything conclusive.
je29836 said:
i think it's b.s. nobody's going to pay a subscription to play a game with no guarantees it'll work. there's too many conditions: your pc/tv has to be at least decent, the game server has to be up 24/7, there can't be too many gamers clogging the system and you cannot have limited bandwidth. which by the way has to be at least 5 Mbps to play games in only 720p. how many people can afford that plus the onlive fee?
skitzo_zac said:
Yeah this will go down swell with my 512Kb/s connection and 12GB of monthly allowed downloads. Hmmm... I think I will let my Core 2 Duo and GeForce 8800 do the hard work for me locally.
Wendig0 said:
I think the concept of this is great, especially with the cost of consoles like the ps3 that are too expensive for some people. I enjoy my ps3, but I signed up to be a beta tester to see what it's all about. For those skeptics out there that seem to already know how it works without even seeing it in action, I simply shake my head. You should go work for the government, you would fit right in.
gobbybobby said:
No online lag, no need to have top spec PC, sounds too good to be true. I can only just stream High quality you tube videos, I don't think this is gonna work.
coda22 said:
90% of the comments are negative regarding this, I don't understand that. Would they really even bother releasing this thing if it has all these problems everyone is already predicting. If regular everyday people can think of the possible issues here you really think the people behind this haven't?? I personally think it's a great idea and could be the future of how we all enjoy our games. Maybe some don't have a proper TV or internet connection, but if your already affording hi-end PC's to play on or multiple consoles I don't see the problem if this is fully functional. In the long run I think it will save people a lot of money. But this is just my opinion, and a more positive outlook on this.
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