In a move to shake up the online gaming industry, OnLive has announced PC and Mac versions of its on-demand, instant-play games will roll out in June during the E3 2010 show. Here's the rub: Gamers don't have to buy a console, and they can get broadband speeds.
OnLive delivers games to HDTVs over an Internet connection via a small browser plug-in for PCs and OnLive's MicroConsole TV Adapter, which will roll out later this year. The company is billing its game service as a way to find, purchase or rent video games from publishers like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft 2K Games, THQ and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
"The idea here is that you buy or rent the games and stream them. That's pretty challenging when it comes to gaming because you need very quick responses," said Michael Gartenberg, a partner at the Altimeter Group. "OnLive is an interesting twist. The question is how it's going to work in real time over the network."
A Subscription Model
The OnLive service will cost $14.95 a month and give gamers access to a library of games. OnLive said it will also offer loyalty programs, such as multi-month pricing.
To kick-start the service, OnLive is offering to waive fees for the first three months for the first 25,000 gamers who sign up for a subscription. Full versions of the games will be available for purchase or rent during the introductory period.
OnLive said its service will offer features like gamer tags, user profiles, friends and chat, and hinted at exclusive content such as state-of-the-art 3-D graphics. The service will also offer free game demos; multiplayer games across PC, Mac and TV platforms; and Brag Clips video capture and posting. Finally, OnLive will introduce massive spectating, always-updated games, cloud-saved games, and the ability to pause and resume games from anywhere, even on a different platform.
A Growing Online Gaming Market
OnLive said it will offer ongoing platform support from the large game publishers. The company leaked out a few of the anticipated game titles, including Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age Origins, Assassin's Creed II, Prince of Persia The Forgotten Sands, Borderlands and Metro 2033.
The market for online games has been growing steadily over the past couple of years. ComScore reports a significant increase in the size of its audience during 2009 as more consumers opted for cheaper entertainment alternatives in the face of a down economy. The category attracted 87 million U.S. visitors in May.
"OnLive promises great performance, but latency is always going to be a question," Gartenberg stressed. "We'll have to see how well it works, how well it scales, and what titles actually make it onto the platform."