GDC: OnLive cloud gaming service could change everything [Update]

Tuesday, 24th March 2009 07:30 GMT By Patrick Garratt


Update: A string of top-end publishers are now confirmed as on board with the service.

OnLive, a service that theoretically allows users to play high-end games on their TVs and PCs without the need for any involvement in the hardware “arms race” at all, has been announced at GDC.

OnLive is a cloud computing service. Your controller inputs are uploaded to a remote server, on which your game is being played. What’s relayed on your TV screen is a video of play.

Lag has been reduced to one milisecond in terms of video encoding, apparently. You’ll need a 1.5mbps connection for SD play, and a 5.0mbps connection is required for 720p.

You can either use virtually any Windows PC or Mac for play, or buy a small dedicated box for your ethernet and controller cables.

Think about it. In theory, OnLive would allow you to play Crysis on a netbook. PS3 and 360? Why?

Think about it some more. Now read this IGN article. There’s a video of OnLive working here.

OnLive will get a closed beta this summer and a launch later this year.



  1. Patrick Garratt

    If this works, and it gets the games…

    #1 6 years ago
  2. Tonka

    …this will be the future.

    Seriously. No piracy, minimal hardware investment. (I mean there must be some controloler involved) and pay as you play business model.

    It will change everything.

    #2 6 years ago
  3. Rhythm

    That 1 millisecond delay claim sounds like BS. It may only take 1ms to “encode the video” but what about the 100+ms it takes in each direction to and from the hosting server?

    #3 6 years ago
  4. Patrick Garratt

    I’ll believe it when I see it, put it that way. It’s not just the lag. How are they going to provide enough computing power for thousands of users to play top-end PC games simultaneously?

    Also, what about contention ratios? If your connection slows down, do you just stop playing?

    I want this to work. It’s an incredible idea.

    #4 6 years ago
  5. Mike

    It’s not bad at all, is it?

    #5 6 years ago
  6. Shatner


    #6 6 years ago
  7. jnms

    This is the future of all game and application based software.

    Adobe are working on similar technology where everything is processed on remote servers. Eventually Photoshop will work through your web-browser. With Windows 7, Microsoft are working further towards this – so that all your documents and programs can be stored on remote servers instead of your hard drive.

    Is this a good thing? Well it will be a closed system, you won’t have full control over your games, applications, and documents – just like broadcast TV it will all be in the hands of a third party. Eventually even your operating system will work like this.

    Imagine what level of control that gives service providers! They get to set what you can or cannot play, what websites you can and cannot view. Heck they will even know what you write in your Word documents.

    #7 6 years ago
  8. revolting

    Pixel Junk monsters played remotely from a host PS3 on a PSP just about works. Just about. Granted this OnLive will presumably have a substantially more heft architecture in place to support remote play of tripple-A titles, but it’s still ultimately going to be extremely dependant on the quality of the user’s ISP. Some areas barely have broadband of any description yet, let alone a reliable supply of a stable 5.0mbps connection.

    Also, I can’t imagine game publishers would be too thrilled about supporting a system where they would only have to supply a certain number of copies of their games to the service provider rather than flogging a copy to each of the billions of consumers that currently purchase their products.

    OnLive is certainly a nice idea, but I don’t see it toppling the combined might of console/pc gaming any time soon.

    #8 6 years ago

    Even though this is the type of thing that I’ve predicted for a while now, I think this might be slightly ahead of it’s time…

    I’d imagine that it’s going to be a long and slow process to get retail around to setting up a working business model that can keep everyone happy.

    Just jumping out of nowhere and cutting retail straight out of the equation seems a little optimistic to say the least.

    #9 6 years ago
  10. jnms

    I agree G!GAHURTZ, this is a bit ahead of it’s time and may not pan out in this iteration. But as you have predicted yourself, it certainly will be the future of gaming (and everything else PC based) at some point…

    #10 6 years ago
  11. deftangel

    We are years from this being a commercial reality for the big publishers. It simply won’t scale to enough users with current/near future broadband technology. Even over a Gigabit LAN, a game running at 60fps could demonstrate lag/input delay and that’s not going to cut it for many gamers. Look at the bitching on forums over Killzone 2!

    Certain types of games are those designed to take the lag into account might work well, but first person shooters, fighters or RTS’ to name just three ain’t one of them.

    #11 6 years ago

    @ jnms:

    Yeah, I can imagine retail adopting a mobile phone type business model for this sort of thing in the future, where they basically sell contracts/subscriptions to different game services like a Carphone Warehouse would.

    #12 6 years ago

    See some guy talk utter rubbish

    #13 6 years ago
  14. freedoms_stain

    This is a good idea, but I think in practical application it’s still a long way off for the majority in the UK, our broadband coverage on average sucks and is unreliable as hell, On my current “up to 8meg” service I wouldn’t even be getting the 1.5 necessary for SD even off-peak.

    #14 6 years ago
  15. Patrick Garratt

    See top of site.

    #15 6 years ago
  16. Quiiick

    @ revolting
    QUOTE: “Also, I can’t imagine game publishers would be too thrilled about supporting a system where they would only have to supply a certain number of copies of their games to the service provider rather than flogging a copy to each of the billions of consumers that currently purchase their products.”

    Good point!

    #16 6 years ago
  17. Patrick Garratt

    Holy new latest comments box, Batman.

    #17 6 years ago

    Yay! The old comments box is back!

    Woo hoo!

    #18 6 years ago
  19. Psychotext

    Sweet. :)

    #19 6 years ago
  20. Tonka

    Yay \o/

    #20 6 years ago
  21. Quiiick


    #21 6 years ago

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