From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
OnLive Type Gaming on demand
Retail availability U.S.
June 17, 2010
end of 2011
Controller input OnLive Game System: OnLive wireless controller,
PC & Mac: mouse and keyboard Online services OnLive game service Website www.onlive.com OnLive
is a cloud computing
: the games are synchronized, rendered, and stored on remote servers
and delivered via the Internet
. Onlive itself is not a platform. The games offered run off of Onlive servers (mostly installed with Windows). The Onlive service allows the game content to be passed along the internet to end users running Onlive clients on a variety of OSes.
The service is available using the OnLive Game System,
PCs running Microsoft Windows
) and Intel
with OS X
10.5.8 or later.
A low-end computer, as long as it can play video, may be used to play any kind of game since the game is computed on the OnLive server. For that reason, the service is being seen as a competitor for the console market.
All games on the service are available in 720p
format. OnLive recommends an Internet connection of 5 Mbit/s or faster, and a 3 Mbit/s connection meets the minimum system requirements.
The average broadband connection speed in the US at the end of 2008 was 3.9 Mbit/s, while 25% of US broadband connections were rated faster than 5 Mbit/s.
Over 20 publishers
, such as Take-Two
, Epic Games
, Warner Bros.
, 2D Boy
, Eidos Interactive
, and others have partnered with OnLive.
A current list of games available can be found on the List of OnLive games
OnLive was announced at the Game Developers Conference
The service was originally planned for release in the winter of 2009.
OnLive's original investors include Warner Bros.
and Maverick Capital.
A later round of financing included AT&T Media Holdings, Inc. and Lauder Partners as well as the original investors.
In May 2010, it was announced that British Telecom
invested in and partnered with OnLive.
On March 10, 2010, OnLive announced the OnLive Game Service would launch on June 17, 2010, in the US, and the monthly service fee would be US$14.95,
however at launch the membership option available was through AT&T
's Founding Members promotion which provides the service free for the first year and US$4.95 per month for the optional following year.
On October 4, 2010, OnLive announced that there would no longer be any subscription fees for the service.
On March 11, 2010, OnLive CEO Steve Perlman announced the OnLive Game Portal, a free way to access OnLive games for rental and demos, but without the social features of the Game Service. It was stated that it would roll out later in 2010 after the OnLive Game Service launch.
The OnLive Game Service was launched in the United States on June 17, 2010.
The US Patent Office awarded OnLive a fundamental cloud gaming patent on December 7, 2010.
The game service is available from the OnLive Game System, PCs running Windows XP
, Windows Vista
, or Windows 7
, or Intel
-based Macs running Mac OS X
10.5.8 or later. The service requires a 3 Mbit/s Internet connection (5 Mbit/s recommended).
OnLive initially required a wired connection, however beta Wi-Fi
support became available to all members on September 15, 2010.
OnLive announced the OnLive Game Service will be integrated into new VIZIO VIA Plus TVs, and VIZIO's new line of VIA Blu-ray players, Android tablets and smartphones.
The OnLive service has been demonstrated on smartphones
such as the iPhone
and tablet computers
such as the iPad
Steve Perlman has also suggested that the underlying electronics and compression chip could be integrated into set-top boxes and other consumer electronics.
The OnLive viewer for the iPad was released December 7, 2010.
 OnLive Game System
OnLive main menu (during beta)
The OnLive Game System consists of an OnLive Wireless Controller and a console
, called the "MicroConsole TV Adapter",
that can be connected to a television and directly to the OnLive service, so it is possible to use the service without a computer. It comes with the accessories needed to connect the equipment, and composite video users can purchase an additional optional cable.
The MicroConsole supports up to four wireless controllers and multiple Bluetooth
headsets. It also has two USB ports for game controllers, keyboards, mice, and USB hubs. For video and audio output it provides component
ports, and an analog stereo minijack. An ethernet
port is used for network access, which is required to access the OnLive service. Pre-orders for the OnLive Game System began to be taken on November 17, 2010.
 PlayPack flat-rate plan
OnLive confirmed the details of its PlayPack flat-rate
payment plan on December 2, 2010. With this option players pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to "recent, classic and indie titles" in the OnLive library, which is expected to exclude the newest releases. PlayPack is currently available for owners of the OnLive Game System or to anyone who has purchased a game from Onlive as a free beta period until the plan officially launches in January 2011.
The OnLive PlayPack is priced at $9.99/month and will allow players to play over 40 different games whenever they wish. There will be more games available in the future as OnLive adds them to their library.
In the U.S., the OnLive service will be hosted in five co-located North American data centers. Currently there are facilities in Santa Clara, California
, with additional facilities being set up in Dallas, Texas
, as well as Illinois
, and Georgia
OnLive has stated that users must be located within 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of one of these to receive high-quality service.
The hardware used is a custom set up consisting of OnLive's proprietary video compression chip as well as standard PC CPU
chips. For older, or lower-performance, games such as Lego Batman
, multiple instances can be played on each server using virtualization technology. However, high-end games such as Assassin's Creed II
will require one GPU per game. Two video streams are created for each game. One (the live stream) is optimised for gameplay and real-world Internet conditions, while the other (the media stream) is a full HD stream that is server-side and used for spectators or for gamers to record Brag Clips of their games.
 International availability
plans to offer the service in the United Kingdom
in partnership with British Telecom
as a bundled service with their broadband packages,
as well as in the rest of Europe, after getting it established in the United States
over the coming year.
OnLive plans to offer the service in Belgium
in partnership with Belgacom
Belgacom has the exclusive right to bundle OnLive in Belgium and Luxembourg with their other broadband services, but gamers in these countries also will have the option of ordering directly from OnLive through any Internet service provider and it will be offered in multiple languages there.
Soon after the company's announcement at GDC 2009
, there was skepticism expressed by game journalists, concerned about how the OnLive service might work and what the quality of the service might be both in terms of the hardware required in OnLive server centers to render and compress the video, as well as the impact of commercial Internet broadband connections on its delivery. During GDC 2009
, which was held in San Francisco
, the OnLive service was 50 miles (80 km) from its Santa Clara
data center. The closed beta had "hundreds of users on the system".
in 2009, which is approximately 350 miles (560 km) away from their data center, OnLive demonstrated their service performed well with a consumer cable modem and Internet connection.
from PC World
stated in his blog that it might be technically difficult to transfer the amount of data that a high definition game would require. He stated he believed OnLive customers would need a broadband line with "guaranteed, non-shared, uninterruptible speed", but "broadband isn't there yet, nor are ISPs willing to offer performance guarantees". He also mentioned his concerns that the mod community would be unable create and offer mods since all game data will be stored on the OnLive servers, and that games played on OnLive might not be "owned" by the user, and thus if OnLive were to go under, all the user's games would be inaccessible.
Cevat Yerli, the CEO of Crytek
, had researched a method for streaming games but concluded that Crytek's approach would not be viable until 2013 "at earliest". Yerli made it clear Crytek was not directly involved with the OnLive service, and Yerli had no personal experience using the service. Rather, Electronic Arts, the publisher of Crytek's Crysis Warhead
, had partnered with OnLive and had tested and endorsed the OnLive technology. Yerli stated:
I want to see it myself. I don't want to say it's either 'top or flop'. I hope it works for them because it could improve gamers' lives. The technology of video-based rendering is not actually a very new concept but they do some things that others didn't do before so it will be interesting to see.
's DigitalFoundry was amongst the most harshly skeptical in an article published upon OnLive's unveiling and public demonstration entitled, "GDC: Why OnLive Can't Possibly Work" by DigitalFoundry's Richard Leadbetter. The article's analysis characterized OnLive as a faked demo that was technically impossible to accomplish over a consumer Internet connection.
After the launch of the service in the United States, favorable reviews by game journalists stated that the service performed well, and they looked forward to the service improving over time. Hiawatha Bray
of The Boston Globe
stated, "It felt exactly as if I had installed the software on my local computer."
Chris Holt of Macworld
, in his review of Assassin's Creed II on OnLive using his Mac
, wrote that he looks forward to future higher resolution improvements that are already promised, he "never encountered any frame rate issues," and "the game is on the whole every bit as immersive, rewarding, and free as the console version." Dan Ackerman
wrote that, "OnLive was an overall very impressive experience, and several minds around the CNET offices were officially blown – a difficult task among this jaded bunch."
In examining latency, Eurogamer
's DigitalFoundry initial test found that in some of their test scenarios, users of OnLive could expect 150ms of latency over a consumer Internet connection; however, they also noted inconsistencies, in that some games had higher latency, and that this would also depend on the quality of the customer's internet connection.
Furthermore, they also noted that while acceptable, these values ran contrary to figures suggested by OnLive before release of lag "being under 80ms" and "usually... between 35-40ms".
In their later full-feature article on OnLive, DigitalFoundry noted that "during intense gameplay, OnLive is hovering right at the boundary of what is acceptable lag and often exceeds it, resulting in a variable, often unsatisfactory experience", but that "the latency level is probably the most pleasant surprise with this system. Let's be clear: it is most definitely not a replacement for the local experience, but if the system can be tightened up and that 150ms becomes the norm, then it's clear there is potential here for the infrastructure to find a home with certain types of game or certain types of player".
In terms of video quality, DigitalFoundry noted that video compression meant image quality also varied depending on the title. Games with a lower number of frame-to-frame differences, or games where such changes were less important, such as Assassin's Creed II
or Batman: Arkham Asylum
fared well, with these games being "strongly suited to video compression" and "cut-scenes in particular can look very good". However, games that had a greater amount of motion or relied on fast reactions, such as Colin McRae: Dirt
or Unreal Tournament 3
fared less well, with questions about the playability of the latter when video compression artifacts were taken into account.
DigitalFoundry felt that the quality of rendering was mostly good, with high frame rates, but with less consistency than console counterparts and with screen-tearing in some scenarios.
Overall, DigitalFoundry felt that OnLive offered interesting new features, being impressed with the ability to watch other player's games in the "Arena" function, and the ability to try out full 30-minute demos of games.
While acknowledging that the rental aspect was appealing, and acknowleding the "incredible achievement" of coming "within spitting distance of console response times", DigitalFoundry questioned the overall value proposition for the customer. They remarked that "the bottom line is that the gameplay experience is not better than what we already have - by and large it's tangibly worse", and noted that high system requirements for a computer capable of playing the games streamed by OnLive meant that a graphics card upgrade would provide comparable performance.
However, they also noted that deals such as those with BT to provide a straight connection to datacenters meant latency could be improved,
and that for some consumers, such as those with less technical experience or who did not want to buy a console, OnLive may be more suitable: "there are some games where the system works - by core gamer terms - tolerably. They are clearly playable....Perhaps it is simply the case that OnLive isn't for us committed gamer types. A less discerning type of audience will probably be happy with the whole offering as it stands now".
The first company to enter this space was the UK based company StreamMyGame
which launched its game streaming and game recording software publicly on October 26, 2007 and then released a version for the PlayStation 3
in January 2008.
The California-based company OTOY
made an announcement on January 8, 2009, at the Consumer Electronics Show
that they were teaming with AMD
to create a supercomputer
capable of rendering graphics for up to a million users.
Soon after OnLive was announced, another competitor, Gaikai
, was announced.
Gaikai had not planned to announce its streaming browser-based game-on-demand service until June 2009, but founder David Perry
said it had to bring this forward when OnLive made its announcement.
Playcast Media System announced a pilot launch in Israel
to allow, "PlayStation 3
and Xbox 360
quality games, on demand", over the Hot cable TV
network, though they have not announced any business relationships with publishers or specific titles.
On October 18, 2010, French operator SFR
launched with G-Cluster
solution a commercial games-on-demand service on IPTV
as a gaming channel that is different than OnLive because the target audience is using their existing STBs
and TVs for playing games.
launched the service Meo Jogos,
a gaming on demand service powered by Playcast Media, on November 11, 2010, as part of their triple play
The service is only available on PCs running Microsoft Windows, with support for Macs "coming soon", and requires "Fiber to The Home"
service and a special gamepad
provided by the operator.