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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
OnLive Broadband Gaming Service Discussed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Develop has published a new interview with OnLive CEO Mike McGarvey. The interview focuses on the company's promised broadband gaming distribution service, which will offer a variety of game choices to subscribers by handling each game's video and audio on remote servers and streaming the results to players. The service will be compatible with Mac and Windows based machines, or without a machine at all through the use of a "micro console" television attachment.

There’s a lot of scepticism about the video encoding and streaming – what can you tell us about the technology that makes OnLive work?
OnLive works by taking input from your controller, keyboard or mouse and connects the player to the OnLive service. Then, the service’s custom game servers render the game graphics. OnLive’s proprietary video compression technology streams back low-latency video to the player’s TV via the OnLive MicroConsole, or to a PC or Mac via a small browser plug-in. A proprietary compression algorithm and custom silicon make it possible for us to deliver games instantly over the Internet.
Our revolutionary video compression algorithm was designed specifically for video games and can encode and compress video into data in about one millisecond. A custom-built silicon chip does the actual encoding calculations at the server end, and that information is decompressed at the gamers end, inside the MicroConsole for those playing on their televisions, or if someone is playing on Mac or PC, the decompression is handled within a small software client downloaded into a Web browser.
The data delivered from the game server to the MicroConsole or to a PC or Mac is proprietary and highly tuned to not only produce low-latency HD video, but it is designed to tolerate packet corruption, and pass through consumer-grade firewalls, routers and switches.

The current demo shows established big brands that have debuted on console as well as PC – are you hoping to secure original exclusive IP for the OnLive platform?
In a way we have ‘exclusive’ games for people with Macs and low end PC’s. Crysis is a great example. The game isn’t currently developed for the Mac and doesn’t run on low end PC’s yet both of those user groups will be able to play the game on OnLive, because we do all the computing in our server centres in the cloud and it just runs on their hardware.
Also, the OnLive platform opens up several new avenues for game development and distribution – episodic games that update throughout the year, for example – and we expect games developed specifically for the OnLive platform to be available in the near term. Because we are the only platform that is wholly online, those games would – by necessity – be available only on our service.

Aside from the questions regarding the technology, there’s also a big question mark hanging over the cost of the whole operation. Is OnLive going to be affordable to the masses or more of a ‘core’ gaming luxury? Can you give us any indication of pricing?
We can’t say a lot about our pricing strategy quite yet, except to say that games will pay a basic monthly fee for access, and that the cost of the MicroConsole will be much less than competitive consoles. With respect to the games sold on the service, we expect them to be priced competitively.
Regardless, we’re confident that the economics of the OnLive system will be favorable for consumers. Essentially, we’ve removed the reliance on high-end hardware, so gamers will never need to upgrade their PC or buy another console. So OnLive is very cost-effective, particularly over time.
Visit the site below to read both parts of the inteview. Online Q&A 1 Online Q&A 2

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