Will OnLive Kill the Video Game Console?


OnLive, a new service that replaces video game consoles like the XBox and PS3 with a small online device, was announced at today’s Game Developer Conference. OnLive will offer hi-res video games over your broadband connection, opening doors for video game downloads, multiday online rentals, and other exciting options. InformationWeek reports:

A startup company called OnLive is trying to disrupt the gaming industry by delivering high-end games through the cloud to a computer or Internet-connected television.

The service, which is expected to launch in the winter, was unveiled Tuesday at the Game Developers Conference. The demonstration showed how it streams 3-D games from a data server to the consumer using proprietary compression techniques. A Macintosh or Windows user would first need to download a 1-MB browser plug-in, but it potentially enables users to play games with high-end visuals without the need for expensive graphics cards or strong processors. Games can be played with the keyboard and mouse, a standard USB controller, or OnLive’s proprietary wireless controller.

For gamers, the service potentially gives them access to top-shelf games without having to invest in new hardware or consoles. The company said it has been working on the technology for more than seven years to ensure that the service has very little latency. OnLive said it plans to improve its back-end servers in the future to handle increasingly complex games.

For the game publishers, the service could open the door for another revenue stream without the costs of shipping and manufacturing games on disks. The service already has the backing of Atari, Eidos, Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS), Take-Two Interactive Software, THQ, Ubisoft, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. These companies plan to launch titles on OnLive at the same time as the console and PC counterparts.

OnLive is a spinoff from San Francisco-based Rearden Companies, a multimedia powerhouse that develops products and services for companies in the entertainment, communications, multimedia, and consumer electronics industries. The man behind Rearden is former Apple engineer Steve Perlman, best known as the founder of WebTV.

The product and technology sound groundbreaking. Perlman will reveal more today at the conference, at 7:15 PST. Stay tuned.

Written by Drea Knufken

Drea Knufken

Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.