Game on: These windows show different games being played across the OnLive network.
Dolbier suggests that the compression algorithms used may also send as little information as possible over the network, anticipating variation from frame to frame with minimal amount of back-and-forth communication.
The basic requirement for running OnLive, says Perlman, is a 1.5-megabit-per-second Internet connection. But to run the service on a high-definition screen, he says, the connection needs at least five megabits per second. OnLive has already partnered with major games companies including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive Software, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Epic Games. The company demonstrated 16 of its titles today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, CA.
In order to use the service on a PC or a Mac, a person will need to download a one-megabyte program. To use OnLive with a digital television, a person will need the company’s MicroConsole device. The company will offer its own gaming controllers, but standard controllers can be used as well.
OnLive will be offered as a subscription service, says Perlman. When a person logs on, she can access a menu and choose games to rent, buy, or try. She can also watch other people play and play with others from around the world. Other features include the ability to record the last 15 seconds of play and share these “brag clips” with others.
By removing the need for expensive graphics cards for PCs and games consoles, OnLive “has the potential to dramatically open up gaming markets to people who wouldn’t have participated otherwise due to the initial cost,” says Dolbier. In addition, he says, OnLive could lower the cost of producing games (a single game can typically cost tens of millions of dollars to make) because it would only need to be made for one platform, rather than customized for Xbox, PlayStation3, and Nintendo. “It’s an excellent idea to expand the markets,” he says.