March 10, 2010 8:47 pm

OnLive’s ‘cloud’ gaming to rival console groups

OnLive, a “cloud” video game service that challenges the dominance of traditional games consoles, said it would launch in the US in June.

Steve Perlman, OnLive’s founder, told the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday that subscribers would be charged $15 a month for a service allowing them to play fully-featured games over the internet, without the need for a console.

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OnLive caused a stir with its potentially disruptive technology, which bypasses the need for the disk-based consoles made by Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, when it emerged from seven years in “stealth mode” to demonstrate the service at the GDC last year.

However, it is launching six months later than predicted. And the small adapter that will bring the service directly to the living-room television will not be available until later in 2010, meaning it will initially be available just on computers.

Critics have questioned whether OnLive can build the infrastructure and offer the bandwidth needed for data-intensive games to run for large online audiences without time lags.

Mr Perlman said the service would be available on June 17 to those registering early in the contiguous 48 US states, suggesting that a limited number of people would be allowed on its network as it developed and stress-tested the service.

OnLive has been embraced by video game publishers, whose revenues are reduced in the traditional disk-based model as they pay a cut to retailers, royalties to console makers and lose out to piracy and second-hand trade.

Games anticipated to be available at the launch of the service include Electronic ArtsMass Effect 2, Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands and 2K Games’ Borderlands.

OnLive will allow instant access to online games, which players can buy or rent. Features include the ability to pause or save and then resume a game on a different device. It will also offer a built-in chat service.

“We are opening the door to incredible experiences for gamers and enormous opportunities for developers and publishers,” said Mr Perlman.

Rivals to OnLive have emerged over the past year including Gaikai, Otoy, Playcast Media and Transgaming. Electronic Arts is creating fully-featured online versions of existing console titles for the PC .

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