Just as video killed the radio star - allegedly - OnLive might well be the death knell to console and PC-based gaming. Speaking at GDC, the company has announced its forthcoming on-demand game streaming service.
In case you missed that, let me to reiterate and clarify: OnLive removes the requirement for a games console or gaming-capable PC to play games. This, in case you couldn't guess, is a big deal.
The service works either via a browser plug-in on just about any PC or Mac or using a dedicated - and unerringly small - OnLive MicroConsole. The latter also comes with a gamepad. Either way, whether played via a computer or on a TV OnLive works basically the same way.
Games are hosted on, and run by, OnLive's servers, the resulting video output is compressed and streamed to the client which then decompresses and displays it. OnLive reckons its compression algorithm is such as a single millisecond of lag is added by the process - unnoticeable to all but mutant superhumans. Standard definition video requires a 1.5Mbit connection and moving to 5Mbit enables 720p. Latency is also important as, obviously, input commands at the client end are transmitted over the 'net to OnLive's servers.
Notable plus points of OnLive's service, aside from removing the need for gaming equipment at the client side, are the instant-on nature of the games. Because the servers are constantly running games are already ready to play once connected to by a client. As OnLive points out, it could prove a great way of trying out game demos. Integration with PSN or Xbox Live could be awesome.
There's a bunch of other cool stuff, but a video is a better description than text, so here one is:
Importantly OnLive has support from publishers such as EA, Ubisoft and Epic so the selection of titles available to purchase and play is decently comprehensive. A launch is expected by the end of this year.
All going well I'm predicting big things for OnLive.
Video via IGN