OnLive, the gaming service that promises to make consoles obsolete by streaming the action over the Internet, is coming to the UK. The company has been conducting a secret test from a BT data centre in Wales since last year and is ready to announce that it is definitely launching in Western Europe.
BT has invested in OnLive and will have exclusive UK rights to bundle it with its broadband deals. UK gamers on different ISPs will still be able to use the service, presumably on a separate monthly contract.
No release date or pricing details have been announced, with the company focused on its 17 June US launch. It'll cost $14.95 (£10) per month there. "I'd like to make it very clear that we still have a lot of work to do before we launch in the UK," wrote Steve Perlman, OnLive's CEO, in a blog post.
OnLive's pitch is that you get to play cutting-edge games on your PC, Mac or TV without buying a console or red-hot gaming rig. There are even plans for it to work on mobile phones. You simply download a piece of software to your computer or plug a small Web-connected box into your TV. You then choose which game you want from OnLive's menu and the software compresses and streams the graphics to your screen from a huge data centre.
The obvious potential flaw is that your input (pressing the buttons on your controller or clicking your mouse) has to travel to OnLive, be processed and then the result (the graphics changing) streamed back. Much speculation about the service has centred around whether all that can be done fast enough for you not to notice.
OnLive says it has patented algorithms that fill in lost data to make the experience as smooth as playing a home console, but Crave remains sceptical until we see it running in real-world conditions. Reports from beta testers in the US were not entirely positive. It's a potentially game-changing idea, however, so we're excited to see if it lives up to its promise.
Update: BT has announced a massive infrastructure upgrade, which can only be good news for future OnLive subscribers.