The Media Crunch
Taking a Bite of Entertainment….Daily

OnLive: Makes PC Upgrading Extinct for Gamers

Recently unveiled for use by the press at this year’s GDC (Game Developer’s Conference) On Live is a video games on demand service that lets you use any computer whether it be a $500 laptop or a $200 one to play the most graphically advanced and newest games out. By acting as streaming video (think Youtube) the controller inputs you use while playing are sent through your connection to their servers who are processing the game. What this means is that your computer isn’t doing the work, theirs are. You can hook your computer up to your television and game on that, however large it may be.

OnLive is said to be based on a subscription model, set in the Xbox Live Gold subscribers price range. For people who know games, EA, THQ, Codemasters, Ubisoft, Atari, Warner Bros, Take-Two, and Epic Games are already on board to sell their offerings to the public through the service. In a surprise to most people, this service also works on Macs. Gaining a reputation for being incapable of gaming, the Mac will get the same abilites as the PC does. So far the service is in a closed beta, but sixteen titles are currently available for sale when it opens with many more said to be added soon.

So with the server on OnLive’s end picking up the slack, most PC users are wondering if there will be lag. With the input from your mouse/keyboard, USB or Bluetooth gaming pad interacting with a video stream of the game that’s transferred to their end, there must be issues right?. Not so, says Rearden Studios who are the ones supplying the power for this operation. They claim that their servers will “deliver video feeds that have a ping of less than one millisecond,” and that its “patented video compression technique is also advertised as being blazing fast, with video compression taking about one millisecond to process.” Criticisms from the PC community have already come from this with many stating these speeds just aren’t possible on normal machines. Other criticisms are aimed at the concept of paying for games you don’t own. If the service were to go under you wouldn’t be in possession of what you owned since it is on their server. Reasonably, many are left cold by this prospect.

If this all comes to be true, with the game streaming not only will there be no install times, but starting a game should be just as fast, maybe even quicker then popping in the disc. This service opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for those that choose the PC as their primary gaming platform. For broadband internet users to get full function of this service, you’ll need a 1.5 megabits connection. HDTV users will need 5mps. For users with a bandwidth cap, the effect this will have on your monthly allowance is still unknown.

That above is the OnLive micro console, which is being released for users who want to enjoy the service but don’t own a PC. It is a simple, low-cost device that’s about the size of your hand. It simply acts as a video decoding control hub, with two USB inputs and support for four Bluetooth devices, and outputs audio and video via optical and HDMI connections. The micro console is expected to be priced competitively, “significantly less” than any current generation console on the market and potentially “free” with an OnLive service contract.

Whether this product will live up to what they say it can do is yet to be foreseen but as of right now it stands as an interesting concept that could revolutionize PC gaming. With a launch date for the fall of this year, gaming may get easier for those using a Mac or PC.

Kyle Bulai/02/28 ’09 with pics and some info via Kotaku

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