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Cloud Gaming Service OnLive Set For Launch 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the money-mouth-etc dept.
Steve Perlman's long-anticipated cloud gaming service, OnLive, officially launches today, finally ready to be put to the test by skeptical and hopeful gamers around the US. After granting some early sign-ups a free year to try out the service, OnLive also announced the list of 23 games that will available from the start, including Mass Effect 2, UT 3, Assassin's Creed 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and F.E.A.R. 2. Perlman spoke at length with Gamasutra about the beta, latency, and potential partnerships with other broadband providers. Future OnLive competitor Gaikai recently announced it's targeting 2011 for its own launch.
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Cloud Gaming Service OnLive Set For Launch

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  • The Fine Print (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @12:18AM (#32598694) Homepage

    From their beta signup page:

    The OnLive Game Service (the "Service") Fee will be waived for the first 12 months from the date you activate your OnLive Account. During these 12 months, your access to the Service will include free demos and community features, such as member Profiles, Friending, Chat, Spectating and Brag Clip(TM) videos, but will not include any games, content or other services that are offered for purchase, and which must be purchased separately.

    Sounds like you're going to need to pay to test their stuff. At least they're up front about it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by carlzum (832868)
      Wait, you have to pay for games? I can already buy a console, pay a monthly service fee, and purchase games. I thought OnLive was similar to a premium cable channel, you paid a monthly fee and could play the entire catalog available. This is a slightly cheaper console but you lose the games you bought when the company tanks.

      Pioneer of on-demand gaming my ass, Sega [wikipedia.org] and even Intellivision [wikipedia.org] were far more innovative decades ago.
      • Supposedly another advantage is that they don't have to worry about hardware limitations. It looks like a console, but could theoretically have all the power of a continually top of the line gaming PC. In practice, it probably isn't that, but.... it's *supposed* to be one of the draws of the service.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SheeEttin (899897)
      Your legalese skills are not up to par:

      The OnLive Game Service (the "Service") Fee will be waived for the first 12 months from the date you activate your OnLive Account. During these 12 months, your access to the Service will include free demos and community features, such as member Profiles, Friending, Chat, Spectating and Brag Clip(TM) videos, but will not include any games, content or other services that are offered for purchase, and which must be purchased separately.

      So yes, you get free demos. But you

      • by antdude (79039)

        But you still have to provide a credit card information if you get accepted even though they won't charge you. :(

  • it's magic! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668)
    How are they planning to magically teleport 1280x1024 3D video data at 60 FPS to my computer with under 50 ms of additional lag? This is an extremely stupid idea but if you consider that "real" gamers have systems that can render the games by themselves, it's redundant to say that real gamers won't take a technology like this seriously.
    • Re:it's magic! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @12:40AM (#32598786) Homepage

      I don't think anyone with a gaming system will be interested, but everyone else may be. Some games like RPGs can be played acceptably with a little lag, and I wouldn't mind being able to see some nice graphics on my Eee PC when I'm away from home.

      Will it work well with an FPS? Doubtful. Before anyone says "Hey! I used to frag in Quake with a 300 ping and it was plenty playable!" -- I used to too. But that was 300ms of network latency, not input latency - very big difference. Lag compensation makes a world of difference, and that's impossible when you're just piping video.

      • Re:it's magic! (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2010 @12:49AM (#32598838)

        I don't think anyone with a gaming system will be interested, but everyone else may be. Some games like RPGs can be played acceptably with a little lag, and I wouldn't mind being able to see some nice graphics on my Eee PC when I'm away from home.

        Will it work well with an FPS? Doubtful. Before anyone says "Hey! I used to frag in Quake with a 300 ping and it was plenty playable!" -- I used to too. But that was 300ms of network latency, not input latency - very big difference. Lag compensation makes a world of difference, and that's impossible when you're just piping video.

        (it's june 17th now, so the NDA is over) I've been hardcore fragging on unreal tournament 3 and haven't had any latency issues. Try it before you knock it honestly, it's a lot better than I was hoping for and almost as good as I was dreaming for...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DeadDecoy (877617)
        I think ultimately, it depends on the cost. Game purchases would have to be significantly cheaper, as I'd already be shelling out money for a monthly subscription (isp not included) and there's no mention of whether I can backup or archive my copy or whether I'd have access to the games I purchased should I decide to discontinue my subscription. I.e. it's good for games I'd only play once, but I'm skeptical about the service with regards to games that have a long shelf life: civilization, starcraft, half-li
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Svippy (876087)

        I don't think anyone with a gaming system will be interested, but everyone else may be. Some games like RPGs can be played acceptably with a little lag, and I wouldn't mind being able to see some nice graphics on my Eee PC when I'm away from home.

        Uhm, yeah, I'm gonna give you that, that would be awesome, but as you can tell from the minimum recommended system requirements [onlive.com], that ain't going to happen:

        • PC: Windows® 7 or Vista (32 or 64-bit) or XP (32-bit)
        • Mac: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
        • Processor: Dual-core CPU
        • Screen Resolution: 1280x720
        • Internet Connection: 5 Mbps located inside the contiguous United States (wired connection required)

        So I am going to assume your Eee does not have a dual-core CPU, a x720 screen resolution or always a wired connection, which means netbooks aren't welcome. But maybe they'll fix that in the future. So you can even play them on your iPad.

      • by LS (57954)

        On what basis is everyone claiming that input latency would be so much? Can someone PLEASE show an end to end calculation of all the variables involved and prove that latency would be this high? And let's talk about best case where you are 10 kilometers from the servers, not across the ocean.

    • Are you getting tired yet about people asking you about lag and OnLive? [laughs]

      SP: I am. So, the other thing is we're going to be putting out facts. There's a lot of misconceptions about latency. It's a brand new technology, and it's fair for people to ask. We're going to need to understand this, right.

      For example, we've measured monitors that have 80 milliseconds of latency. The monitor. [laughs] In fact, we spoke to that monitor manufacturer, who will remain nameless [laughs], and they understood what we were doing. They got excited about it, and they came out with a new line of monitors that have 9 milliseconds of latency. They're some of the best monitors out there now, okay.

      So, people just don't think about it. But you know, if you have an 80 millisecond monitor, anything you're playing on it, a local game, you're going to see some lag in a local game. But people don't think about it because they figure, "Okay, it's local, so lag is not on my agenda to thing about."

      Some of the mice you can get that are 15 milliseconds of latency, or you can get mice with 1 millisecond of latency, you know what I mean. It's a huge swing. So, what we're going to do is put the facts. We're going to say, "Look. Here are the kind of things that introduce latency. Please let us know. If you're going to be on a lagging experience, come tell us. Tell us what your system is so we can go and try to test that equipment."

      Then what we're going to try to do is put up a list of different equipment and how we've measured it. Not every laptop, but most laptops have pretty low latency screens. So, you know, again, not every trackpad, but trackpads are probably not the best thing to use for gaming. But nonetheless, at least it's built in, and there's a good chance the latency is not too bad on it, right. So, give that a go before you kind of condemn the whole system. [laughs]

      These are things that we need to educate people on. The bottom line is this: if you have a good connection to OnLive and your gear is low latency, you have a low latency experience. It works. It really does. It's never going to be low latency as having the exact same computer capability locally, right. I think that's an obvious thing, right. There's a load of latency introduced by the internet.

      But the thing that we need to get across to people is that the latency is not exactly what you expected. Sometimes the latency is actually not the internet. Most of the latency is in the last mile. Actually, most of the latency, if you don't have optimal equipment, is in your gear, your monitor, and your mouse. And then the next place you look is in the last mile. And actually, the third place you look is in the internet.

      • by Svippy (876087)

        So... he's saying, 'you already have latency, would more latency hurt?' In addition, if I need this kind of gear (9ms monitor and 1ms mouse), which I do not assume to be cheap, doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of not going buying a game rig?

        So even if their latency is low, I am still not buying the argument that I need better gear. I do realise there are input latencies and all, but does not add to the experience! I think the latency on my current hardware is justifiable because I cannot observe i

    • Re:it's magic! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rockNme2349 (1414329) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @12:43AM (#32598804)

      Well for one, they plan on transferring 2D video data probably at around 24 FPS. They are trying to get as low latencies as possible by having several servers around the country and are only selling to people near those servers.

      Their target is not hardcore PC gamers. Also this system will never work with twitch gaming, like unreal tournament. However for less latency critical games, and for more casual gamers who aren't looking for a large hardware commitment, this fills a niche. I'm personally not interested in their service, but I'm interested to see how it turns out.

      • Also this system will never work with twitch gaming, like unreal tournament.

        I'd certainly agree, yet UT3 is on the list of launch games, so they seem to think it's good enough.

        All depends on your net connection, and your standards.

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          Also this system will never work with twitch gaming, like unreal tournament.

          I'd certainly agree, yet UT3 is on the list of launch games, so they seem to think it's good enough.

          All depends on your net connection, and your standards.

          I'd suggest it doesn't depend on your standards, if you're getting flogged by gamers playing on local systems because they don't have the same input lag that isn't to do with your standards, that would be purely your network connection. The OnLive system will always introduce significant latency so you'll never be able to compete against those on local dedicated systems in twitch games.

        • by BitwiseX (300405)

          I'd certainly agree, yet UT3 is on the list of launch games, so they seem to think it's good enough.

          My boss got in the beta and UT3 was the first game we tried. This was on a Mac Book Pro on a 40 Mb\s connection. I was pretty impressed. I asked for his report when he got home to Comcast, but that was a no go because his Desktop is using Wifi, and OnLive blocks you from playing across Wifi. Bummer.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Real gamers" are a shrinking market, becoming less and less relevant compared to 'medium' and 'casual' gamers. I could list tons of examples, but the most prevalent at the moment: consider StarCraft 2 lacking LAN *AND* inter-regional games, which would drive any "real gamer" nuts. "Real gamers" don't matter from a developer's/publisher's point of view. Not enough money compared to the masses who likely won't care about the lag while they grind their MMORPG character or spray bullets around each other ob

      • I heard lack of lan is to control video game leagues / lock out leagues from doing there own thing and not useing battle net.

      • by murdocj (543661)

        I love how people define "real gamers" as "people who play games exactly the way I do".

        Guess what: I'm a "real gamer", I was in the SC2 beta, I was able to set up private games and invite my friends to play, and I don't give a damn whether SC2 has LAN play or not.

      • by ifrag (984323)

        It's already been stated that Pro tournaments will be hosted on a LAN and must have a Blizzard representative, etc. Based on your comment I'm going to assume that you, "a real gamer" as you say does not actually fall into the Pro category, and this is why you are attempting to take issue with it. You complain about the lack of inter-regional games and then do a full 180 and complain about lag as well. Try to decide what you actually care about.

        No matter what they say to the contrary the b.net 2 setup doe

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What makes you think that "real gamers" matter? Hardcore gamers are an ever smaller niche. The future is in casual games. The people playing farmville and the sims with low end graphics and beige box machines.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hazza64 (1820988)
      I hear Dr. Jon Osterman and Adrian Veidt are involved with the project. Apparently it involves using tachyons to send the information from the server to the user instantly! When asked about the future of the project Dr. Jon Osterman replied that 'the future is still unclear'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Qantravon (1466953)
      It's true that hardcore gamers are going to have systems capable of running these games well, locally. By which logic, their target audience shouldn't be hardcore gamers, but the more casual gamers looking for slightly prettier graphics than their box can handle.

      However, look at that list of games. Those aren't games targeted at the casual audience. Those are the very games that are going to be picked up almost exclusively by the same gamers who already have capable systems. MMORPGs, maybe some find-
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RoadDoggFL (876257)
        So why can't the target audience be hardcore gamers who don't have the money to upgrade their computers? Gaming lounge patrons? Or hell, potential hardcore gamers that don't have the money, technical know-how, or desire to maintain a gaming-competent PC. You're right, there's no market for this. Everybody already has their dream gaming setup.
        • I was talking in terms of majorities and generalities. Most gamers have a setup that's capable of running games well. That doesn't necessarily mean "dream setup," it means capable. For example, my computer is far from top-of-the-line, but it will still run most new games at mid-to-high settings. For me, that's good enough. For a lot of people, it's good enough.
          • And for a lot of people with a comparable setup (somehow the majority of people interested in playing Mass Effect 2, UT 3, Assassin's Creed 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and F.E.A.R. 2., to you), upgrading that machine so that it remains capable may not be as appealing as using something like PlayOn.
            • I can only speak from what I know, and in my personal experience, of the people I know, most if not all who are interested in those games have no qualms about upgrading to maintain a capable computer. Of the gamers I know, most tend to take a point of pride in the capabilities of their personal computer.

              Of course, I am completely willing to believe that my experience qualifies as a random outlier. If I can see evidence to support it. I just don't personally know that many (if any) "gamers" that would
              • And I am completely willing to believe that your experiences are overwhelmingly frequent. If I can see evidence to support it. Why is it so hard to believe that there are people who would enjoy playing these games if the hardware required didn't cost so much...?
        • by mlk (18543)

          Except hard core games without cash for a large desktop computer can use a console. If OnLive costs £15 a month and a 360 has a one off cost of £200, then you could take a loan for two years and own the 360.

          The market for this seams to me to be gamers without basic math skills.

          • by Rogerborg (306625)

            Maybe aye, maybe no. The pricing is going to be crucial, both for customers and OnLive.

            I assume that they haven't actually announced it yet because they're still frantically doing the sums and moaning "Ohshitohshitohshit" while their creditors kick down the door and demand their hardware back.

          • by bondsbw (888959)

            The price for OnLive hasn't been set... the article mentions $5/month for the second year, at least to early adopters. And OnLive lets you game from home or wherever you have a computer with a good Internet connection.

            Don't forget that XBox Live Gold costs $10/month (or better, $44 for 13 months at Amazon right now). So that's at least $288 for 26 months.

            • by mlk (18543)

              I'm fairly sure OnLive released the price a little while back (or someone at the top said it would in the range of) and that price was $15, but that may have changed. Looking over GamesIndustry.biz $15 is thrown up a lot as the price.

              Based on that I did do the sums, including Live ($4.17 a month based on what I could find at the time) and Electric (the 360 would eat more than the micro console they sell). The 360 was still cheaper. It all comes down to the cost and availability of games.

    • by LBt1st (709520)

      Also, I wonder if the average PC/laptop with a crappy onboard Intel chipset can handle the video decoding needs of this. People with better video cards are likely to run the games normally.

      So it seems that their target audience has/is
      A) A fast internet connection
      B) Willing to spend money on a gaming service but not on hardware/software/console(s)
      C) No desire to run games locally AND
      D) A video card that can handle HD decoding

      Who the hell Is that?

    • by 8086 (705094)
      They probably have a neat little compression algorithm figured out, something that works even better than video compression for 3d games. There is a lot more repetition in a 3d game, for example if you're running through a room in mass effect 2, you don't see too many new images (indeed you only see 3d transformations of the first images) compared to what you saw in the first 10 seconds if you scanned the room for enemies. But even if they've compressed it down to a few kilobytes going both ways, the input
  • Game publishers are going to be all over this technology if they can make it work because it means the game source code never has to be released and, implemented correctly, the games will be impossible to crack.

    I'm not too happy about it, but it's the future. If not now, probably this decade or early next.
    • by cosm (1072588)

      Game publishers are going to be all over this technology if they can make it work because it means the game source code never has to be released and, implemented correctly, the games will be impossible to crack. I'm not too happy about it, but it's the future. If not now, probably this decade or early next.

      +1 Insightful. This is what MAFIAADRMFAGS want. And as persistent they are and with as much pull in the industry as they have, they will get it. They say we have purchasing power with the dollar to sway the market. But IMO, wallet power does not compare to litigation or lobbyist power, and hence WE. ARE. FUCKED.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Jedi Alec (258881)

        and hence WE. ARE. FUCKED.

        Are we? At some point it'll get bad enough that those among us who truly want to game the proper way will either buy indie titles exclusively or start collaborating and make our own bloody games...

        I've been having a blast e-mailing companies with a form e-mail I created which summarized comes down to "Hi, I would have loved to have bought your game X, but unfortunately you chose to treat me, your potential customer, as a thief. Hence I have decided not to buy your game X and instea

        • by minasoko (710100)
          Exactly. I don't care what EA, Activision or Ubisoft do with this technology, if anything. But then, I only play old games.
          The kind of game I love will never be moved to the cloud and streamed to a thin client. Even if it did happen, the user base would just ignore it and organise their own alternative. The source code for all the decent Quake games is available for anyone to use and the very best version of Quake yet made is a mod created by talented fans.

          As long as there are people to play against and I
        • by mykos (1627575)
          MOD PARENT UP. I've been thinking the same thing. All the "Big Content" publishers think we can't live without them, which is of course a big load of crap.
      • Game publishers are going to be all over this technology if they can make it work because it means the game source code never has to be released and, implemented correctly, the games will be impossible to crack. I'm not too happy about it, but it's the future. If not now, probably this decade or early next.

        +1 Insightful. This is what MAFIAADRMFAGS want. And as persistent they are and with as much pull in the industry as they have, they will get it. They say we have purchasing power with the dollar to swa

        • Last thing first:

          They will NEVER get rid of copyright laws. NEVER.

          Secondly, if I BUY something, I want to own it. I do not want to buy a game, then have it inaccessible a year later due to "lack of demand".

          Third...... Really..... Gaming using this much bandwidth at a national level? With sub-console quality graphics?

          Lastly, even this model is able to be defeated. There are rogue WoW servers running right now. Code gets leaked.

          The entire project seems to reek of nasty and fail.

  • If this is using Flash to display the images on the client, does this mean we'll be able to play PC games on Flash using Phones/Tablets/mini-netbooks with hardware decoding?
    I've seen a demo of Everquest running on an Android phone, just remoting the display and sending key presses back to the game running on the decent gaming rig. It was actually usable for alot of game playing.

    This has some amazing potential, as long as the latency isn't too bad. I can see this working great for alot of games that are ou

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:00AM (#32598902)

    You do not own games you pay full price for! and you have to keep paying on live to use them!

    So you are better off useing your own system and buying the games that can be used with out having to pay a fee JUST TO PLAY! also no INPUT LAG AND NO NEED FOR a 5MEG plus full time data stream.

    • by nmg196 (184961)

      But you DON'T pay full price for them and you DON'T have to buy a console. That's the entire point of their system - you just pay a small subscription fee which is a fraction of the price of even one game.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        According to Onlive, you ALSO have to buy the games.
        but what would they know.

        "but will not include any games, content or other services that are offered for purchase, and which must be purchased separately."

    • by revlayle (964221)
      This is the problem I have with the service. I understand it is for anyone with any sort of entry level computer to be allow to play these high-end games. But the eventually $15/mo basically buys you a new system every three years. Their subsidizing their own hardware with your subscription fee. I think the service is rally cool, I know of a few beta players who say it really does work with pretty decent latency (*usually* within the 70-ish milliseconds claimed by OnLive - characterized by their comment
  • No matter what the onlive reps say, they are not going to be able to get your input lag to a playable 50ms.

    1. INPUT LAG. You have to add their input lag to your television's. If you were near unbearable on input lag before, Onlive will put you over the hump. All of a sudden, it will feel like everyone else is wallhacking, or maybe that you've just suddenly become a bad shot. This will not be enjoyable in any way. And can any computer, even your own, screen cap in fraps, compress video, and even send
    • May if they put the severs at your cable headend or area superhead end then you may be able to over come some of the input delay but peak use is a big killer just like how cable VOD can get over loaded. But I hear HOT CABLE (Israel) is working on some thing like this.

    • by fyrewulff (702920)
      I don't think the inventor of freaking Quicktime is going to ruin his reputation by going for a pump-and-dump scheme.
    • No matter what the onlive reps say, they are not going to be able to get your input lag to a playable 50ms.

      I'd just like to point out that if they're getting close to launch, they've already tested this. Maybe they adjusted the games to account for it. Maybe the latency sounds worse as a number than it does when you actually use it. Maybe the latency is reduced at another end of the pipe, possibly making up for it. Who knows until you use it?

      It's fun to have academic discussions about it, but I'm not making up my mind until I'm actually sitting here playing the game. I've learned this lesson too many times

    • by dave420 (699308)
      Maybe you should perform some rudimentary research before getting all upset on slashdot. All your questions have been answered time and time again, in the various OnLive threads we've seen. The service has already been through testing, and people who used it seem to think you're full of shit. But please, continue.
  • OnLive (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    No ownership. Less FPS than an NES. Lame.

  • I can't even remotely imagine playing ME2 on this kind of setup. Online games can hide latency by having the client extrapolate, but what they're selling seems totally unworkable. The internet is not a real time system, even with a tolerance of 100 ms or so.
  • Will it run on Linux?
    • by nschubach (922175)

      Negative. The one hope they might sell me a subscription for a while... gone. I already have a Windows machine for gaming, but to be able to plug in my Lenovo Debian machine when I go to my parents for the weekend and drop into a few games is out the window. (I likely wouldn't have kept it for the long haul though seeing that I like to mod games, so maybe it's all the better.)

  • Crysis is not on this list.

  • You can only sign up to be allowed to sign up, which is what they've been doing for quite some time now.
  • Canadians can't sign up, despite the fact that about a quarter of our population is within the 1000 mile range of the DC OnLive location. For example, Montreal is about 590 miles away, well under the 1000 mile limit.

  • This is what I see...
    1920 x 1200 (Resolution) x 32 bit (4 Bytes Color Depth) x 60 Hz (Refresh) = 4423680000 bit/s = 4423.680 mbit/s or 527 Mbytes/sec

    Therefore, they must compress the video stream. So with this I get lag, bad video quality and compression artifacts.
    This assumes that I have a high speed internet connection that is not capped... At 2mbit stream rate (but they required a 5mbit connection, therefore you would have some spare capacity for overhead and network issues), you would only get abo
  • I've tried to get my head around this, but even if it works uniformly for everyone I'd have a really hard time seeing it be any more than a niche market. Between GameStop for consoles, Steam for the PC (and now Mac), and increasing options for DLC, it's going to be a really hard-sell to gamers who are used to owning something physical that they can trade in (even for horrible rates). I bet broadband will kill them. Net neutrality is going to fail, unfortunately, so people are going to get capped and have
    • by AuMatar (183847)

      Net neutrality has nothing to do with caps or overage fees. Either is perfectly acceptable. What net neutrality is about is not degrading performance or charging extra based on where you want your data to go. So long as its the same rate no matter who your overage is to, you're neutral.

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