E3 2010 debut for new OnLive 'cloud gaming' service

E3 2010 debut for the new OnLive 'cloud gaming' service Thursday ahead of official launch Friday.

REUTERS/Gus Ruelas
E3 2010 debut for new OnLive 'cloud gaming' service. People preview video games at the OnLive booth at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, California on Tuesday. The annual E3 trade show highlights the computer and video games industry and is presented by the Entertainment Software Association.

At E3, new gaming company OnLive demoed their new gaming service ahead of the official launch tomorrow. OnLive lets gamers play games without purchasing or installing them on their computers. TechNewsDaily went hands-on.

OnLive provides a suite of games, over 20 of the latest titles at launch including Borderlands, Assassin's Creed 2, Mass Effect 2, Just Cause 2 and many more. All of these games are available to play without installation or purchase through OnLive's online service.

The advantage of using OnLive is it let's gamers play games on computers that aren't powerful enough for cutting edge games. And the upcoming micro-console will let them play console games on their TV without a console. The game is installed on OnLive servers, then piped to a gamer's computer via an Internet connection. The player's keyboard or gamepad input is sent back to the servers and the results are then transmitted to the player's computer.

IN PICTURES: Controversial video games

All this sounds very cumbersome, and it's no wonder many gamers have worried that connection lag and network problems will make games unplayable.

We spent some time at the OnLive booth at E3 playing several different games, including Assassin's Creed 2 and Borderlands, and found that the Onlive system was quite responsive. It felt just like we were connected to a console with the game installed. Lag and connection issues never showed up, and the games displayed at full resolution.

The E3 setup was exactly what users would have, too: Run-of-the-mill Mac and PC laptops were connected to OnLive servers offsite (in other words, they weren't just playing off of servers in the building) connected through the Internet.

OnLive will officially be launching for PC and Mac tomorrow, and the TV-connected micro-console will be coming later. Because all of the game processing is done on OnLive servers, the hardware requirements to play new games is remarkably low. Even computers bought several years ago should be able to handle the latest games through OnLive. The most important requirement is having a broadband connection that gets 5 megabit speeds or faster.

The OnLive service is $4.95 per month, although OnLive has a promotion going for launch where users will get the first year free. Then OnLive users can pay for 3- or 5-day passes to play games. Full passes, for unlimited play, will also be available.

While the prices for each of the passes will be set by the publisher, OnLive reps said the 3- and 5-day pass prices will be similar to game rental prices, and the full passes will be priced similar to full game prices through other download services.

Users also get access to an OnLive community where they can watch friends play online, make "brag clips" of their best gaming triumphs and view demos and extra content from current and upcoming games. OnLive has an impressive list of developer partners and is adding new games all the time.

IN PICTURES: Controversial video games

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