Could OnLive be the console killer?

Could the gaming console sitting in your living room already be outdated? OnLive (and Sandy Duncan) seems to think so and wants you to join them in a gaming revolution. The brand new service, which allows instantaneous streaming of a chosen game to your TV or computer, is being shown off at GDC this year. The system has been in “stealth” development for over seven years and will begin a private beta test later this year.

OnLive will come with a “MicroConsole,” a small TV box that connects the company’s service to your television, however PC or Mac gamers do not need the box. Once connected to the service, gamers can choose which games to play by either renting or purchasing them and start the title instantly. Steve Perlman, OnLive founder and inventor of Quicktime and WebTV, says that the industry hasn’t really seen “cloud computing” done like this before.

Browsing the company’s website, games like Burnout Paradise, H.A.W.X., and F.E.A.R. 2 show that publishers are coming on board with Perlman’s idea of a one platform future. According to him, because OnLive’s games are downloaded, it will not matter for which console games are developed. They will just work, no matter if players are on their PC, Mac, or TV.

“When you watch a movie on TV, you don’t think about what it was developed for, it just works,” Perlman says, “Some consoles cost $300 or $400 or $500. Even more in some cases. So now, instead of spending all that money on a console, they can spend it on the games instead. Doesn’t that sound more fun?”

We think it does sound like fun, but so did the Phantom, the Gizmondo, the N-Gage, and about twenty other starry eyed gaming dreams. The idea that to stream such large amounts of information instantaneously is mind boggling, especially when flash based websites like YouTube and Hulu, or even a service like NetFlix, have to buffer a bit before playing. And that is a one way stream of video, not split-second gaming action.

We at TVGB want to see this service succeed, mainly because it is really cool and we will get to finally record our awesome crashes in Burnout Paradise, but also because diversity in any industry drives innovation and makes for a better quality product. Right about now, we need some better quality products… The Pitt anyone?

For several shots of the hardware and the service, hit the gallery below.


And here’s a 2-part interview: