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OnLive Game Service to Deliver Top-Tier Videogames Over the Internet

OnLive Inc. has emerged from seven years of stealth development within the Rearden incubator to unveil The OnLive Game Service and OnLive MicroConsole at the 2009 Game Developers Conference.

OnLive is a new, on demand videogame platform delivering the latest and most advanced games instantly, on any TV via a sleek, inexpensive MicroConsole, or on almost any PC or Mac. OnLive is supported by many of the top names in the videogames industry, including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive Software, Warner Bros. Interactive Ent., THQ Inc., Epic Games, Eidos, Atari Interactive and Codemasters.

Meanwhile, investors in OnLive include Warner Bros., Autodesk and Maverick Capital.

"OnLive is the most powerful game system in the world," boasted Steve Perlman, founder and CEO of OnLive, which was spun out of his Palo Alto-based Rearden (which also incubated Mova, which offers the Contour Reality System used on the VFX Oscar-winning THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON). "No high-end hardware, no upgrades, no endless downloads, no discs, no recalls, no obsolescence," added Perlman. "With OnLive, your videogame experience is always state-of-the-art."

Designed for gamers of all skills and ages, the OnLive Game Service is easy to use. The elegantly designed OnLive MicroConsole—about as small as a deck of cards—easily connects any TV and home broadband connection to the OnLive Game Service and is operated by an OnLive wireless controller. Gamers can enjoy the same experience on almost any Internet-connected PC or Mac via a small browser plug-in from—even entry-level computers will play the highest performance games. Whether on TV, PC or Mac, OnLive provides instant access to the most advanced games in the world, solo and multiplayer.

And what is the secret sauce behind OnLive?

"We have a new technology we developed," Perlman told VFXWORLD, "which is interactive video compression, which will stream the video down with effectively no latency so that the screen updates on your TV set or your computer screen are faster than human perception so that it feels like the game is running locally, even though it's running remotely.

"Of course, that offers lots of advantages: the games are always updated, we have the latest hardware every six months -- we'll put in the newest NVIDIA or Intel or AMD chips -- and there's no piracy for games. And you can have a level of performance for graphics intensive games that have never been possible before."

"OnLive combines the successful components of videogames, online distribution and social networking into one affordable, flexible platform that offers a new way for game fans to access and enjoy content," added Mike McGarvey, COO of OnLive. "By substantially lowering the barriers between content and consumers, OnLive has created an environment that is highly beneficial for every facet of the videogame ecosystem. With OnLive, gamers can play what they want, when they want, how they want. That level of freedom has never been possible until now."

The OnLive Game Service supports a live community of unprecedented scale. A revolutionary user interface allows videogame fans to watch thousands of live games in action, join in at any point, share their exploits with friends through social networking tools, or make Brag Clips that showcase their skills. With OnLive, gamers have immediate access to demos and can instantly try, buy and play top-tier games, whether playing solo or with friends.

OnLive offers significant benefits to publishers and developers. It costs far less to develop a game for OnLive, and the economics are far more efficient than retail or download distribution models. It typically only takes a few weeks to extend an existing version of a game to work on the OnLive service, so there is little cost incurred by developers and publishers to support the OnLive platform.

Through a partnership with Epic Games, the award-winning Unreal Engine 3 is compatible with the OnLive platform. Games leveraging the cutting-edge technology and versatility of the Unreal Engine will easily run on the OnLive service.

"OnLive is an innovative gaming platform that will be very well received in the marketplace and it is a good fit with our strategy of bringing our games to consumers on the format of their choice," said Kevin Tsujihara, president, Warner Bros. Home Ent. Group. "Our game titles appeal to a wide variety of audiences so we are always looking at new ways to bring them to players of any age, and OnLive provides a terrific new option with their game service."

"Ubisoft is excited to be one of the premier publishing partners with OnLive Game Service," added Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft. "Our goal at Ubisoft is to serve the community of gamers and Onlive's platform offers a new model for consumers to access our games. With OnLive, gamers will have a new community to play with other OnLive users, capture and share recorded highlights of game play achievements with other users, demo new games on the market and purchase and play titles instantly."

"We are pleased to be one of the first publishers to deliver our games via OnLive's easy-to-use service," stated Brian Farrell, CEO of THQ. "Our goal is to deliver premium content to gamers however they choose to play. Through OnLive, we are expanding our reach to consumers who are increasingly enjoying their entertainment on-demand."

"We are excited about the potential of OnLive and pleased to see continued innovation in the interactive entertainment industry," added Ben Feder, CEO of Take-Two Interactive Software.

OnLive is currently in beta, which will expand this summer before launching its monthly subscription this winter. OnLive will be available in a variety of different pricing packages and tiers, competitively priced to retail.

Perlman suggested that OnLive would not replace consoles, but, rather would serve as an adjunct. "But they're up against heat and power. The problem is Moore's Law is not keeping pace with graphic's appetite.

"The hard thing about this is there is no precedent. It's not a download service, it's not a streaming video service; it's interactive; a lot of it is user-generated with Brag Clips. We already suspect some people are going to do Machinima -- now the whole world's a stage. We have to figure out what the right pricing programs are and how to package it. Nothing's been offered this way -- so we'll learn."

OnLive will be showing 16 titles playable during the 2009 Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco at the OnLive Booth, North Hall #5128.

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Bill Desowitz's picture

Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.