|Posted: March 25, 2009, 3:37 pm - IP Logged|
I don't really play video games much anymore but this would be a really cool thing to have rather than wasting money on a new machine every two years.
What if you could stream top-end games to your TV, just like a Youtubevideo that you can control? You'd never need to buy a console again.
That's the future envisaged by Palo Alto startup OnLive, whichplans to launch a groundbreaking gaming service this winter. OnLivewill supply players with a small set-top box, not much bigger than a Nintendo DS,which will plug into your TV and your home broadband connection. Fromthere, you can start playing games just like those on the Xbox 360, PS3 or PC-- but with no install time, no waiting for downloads, and no need forbig, noisy, expensive consoles cluttering up your living room. OnLive'sservice can be continually upgraded, too, so you'll never be stuck withobsolete hardware again.
Skeptical? So were we, until we actually sat down and played with an OnLive box last week. Even a blisteringly fast racer like Burnout Paradise was totally playable over the service, and top-spec shooter Crysis: Warhead-- which normally requires an expensive gaming PC -- ran excellentlytoo. It's all rolled together with a slick interface that requires justa few button-presses to get playing.
OnLivealso includes some features you might associate more with your DVR thanwith a gaming console, including a Replay feature that lets you savethe last ten seconds of your gameplay, and send it to your friends.
PC gamers aren't left out, either: OnLive's service can beaccessed with a browser plugin from either Mac or PC platforms, worksidentically to the TV version, and has hardware requirements so lowyou'll be able, the company boasts, to play the most advanced of gameson a $300 netbook.
OnLive has already signed deals with an impressive range ofpartners -- including EA, Take-Two, and Ubisoft -- and promises to havean up-to-the-minute selection of games when the service launches. Alongwith Burnout and Crysis, we spotted Grand Theft Auto IV, LEGO Batman, and Mirror's Edge among the games on offer, although the lineup will likely change before the service launches.
There's a catch, though. Being an online, streaming service, OnLive isonly going to be as good as your Internet connection. High-definitionresolutions will require a higher-end broadband connection, and if yourservice is prone to drop out unexpectedly, you're probably going towind up frustrated. Even if it works, all that streaming video's goingto add up over the months, and heavy users might find themselves thereceipient of some unwelcome attention from their ISPs. Modem users,needless to say, need not apply.
OnLive won't talk price, other than to say that they'll becompetitive with subscription services like Xbox Live. The box itselfis simple and cheap to make, they told us, and it's easy to imagine itbeing thrown in with subscriptions -- rather like a cable or satelliteTV set-top box. Games will most likely be available to rent or buy, andwith free demos that don't need to be downloaded.