OnLive will allow its subscribers to stream console games on their computers, with all of computing taking place in the cloud. The company will also offer a cheap “micro-console” that connects to your television, allowing you to stream games without a computer.
The product has been hyped as a console-killer. For a $14.95 monthly subscription — plus the cost of a controller — gamers will be able to purchase and play many of the same titles that are available on consoles costing hundreds of dollars.
So far, most experts have been extremely sceptical. OnLive claims that a 1.5 Mbps broadband connection will be sufficient to smoothly stream games in standard definition, and a 5 Mbps connection will be good enough for HD games. That is difficult to believe, but the company says it has revolutionary patented compression techniques that makes this possible.
The service will also be at a disadvantage in software. OnLive has an impressive line-up of partnerships, including EA, Take-Two, and Ubisoft, but the offerings will still be slim by comparison to the big three console makers. Notably absent from the list is Activision-Blizzard. And of course the console makers are not about to licence their own games to the system trying to make them irrelevant.
If OnLive can offer anything close to what it promises, it might be an attractive option for casual gamers who don’t want to shell out for a system, or worry about upgrading their hardware every few years. But the console-makers probably don’t need to start losing sleep for another generation or two.