20 Jul

The mid-E3 launch of the cloud gaming service known as OnLive has the potential to either define a market to rival anything before it, or utterly destroy any who try. Word coming from OnLive headquarters seems to lean towards the latter, with “everything going smoothly” supposedly since its release. Steve Perlman, CEO of the cloud streaming service, sat down with CNET to clarify the company position.

“We ran out of room and literally ran out of floor space in our data centers, but there are other collocation centers nearby that we’re in and we just literally emergency-moved racks to those colos and brought in fiber and turned it on, and that was it, more users are on,” said Perlman. “We haven’t done it yet, but it’s easy to make it so that a Web site can link right into a game. The nice thing about it is that you can have more than one purchase path. Maybe we refer you to Steam or to DirectDrive to go and purchase the download,” he told Cnet. “We’re super happy if people want to use us a demo service, as a rental service, as a purchase service, as a social network, we have folks that are just watching games instead of TV.”

Perlman continued, “If you’re a hardcore gamer and you’ve got a big rig and you want the highest quality graphics then OnLive is not the place where you’re going to play your high-end game…Then again, to not have a huge download in order to trial something before you make the purchase decision, why not? Just click OnLive and give it a go. If you like it, terrific. Download the thing from Steam or order a copy on DVD…If you take the worst-case scenario, then we’d have to charge $14.95. We were worried that once we had new games, everybody would be piling on at the same hour of the day. It turns out that isn’t the case,” Perlman said. “Some games are casual, we have driving games, we have first-person shooters, we have puzzle games, the audience for each of those different games has its peaks at different times during the day, but the same servers of course are used for different games, so that spreads the load over the day. It means our worst fears about worst case peak loads turned out to be unfounded, and we’re able to charge a much lower price.”

“We have beta users now that are running at 1080p. It works fine, it looks great, but it is a question of deciding when we have an adequate level of support,” he concluded on the point of universal HD streaming, “We have not settled on the business model yet for it. It is far less expensive to make than a console, but we are looking into potentially bundling it into other packages. Once we have a better idea about usage patterns on the PC/Mac OnLive service, we’ll be able to make an informed decision on how best to price it. Needless to say, we want to get it out as inexpensively as we can.”