OnLive Resurfaces: Crysis On An iPhone, Data Centers Located

There's still no official release date yet, but this week at the DICE Summit, the head of the possible video game revolution On Live was offering more proof that his service is coming together.

OnLive CEO Steve Perlman gave attendees at this gaming conference a look at the all-streaming gaming service in action, running multiple sessions of it over a cable Internet connection here at the Red Rock Casino and Resort. The idea of OnLive is that it will enable broadband-connected gamers to play even the most cutting-edge games on a TV, computer or mobile device without physically or even digitally possessing the games — the game's graphics and sounds are streamed from OnLive's server centers and piped through a small application or TV-connected device called the micro-console.

Instead of buying a new game in a store or downloading it, you would play it live, streaming, over your Internet connection on the screen of your choice.

During his DICE presentation, Perlman had a colleague start playing Unreal Tournament 3 over the OnLive network. That game had been modified to run on OnLive's software development kit and booted up, over its streaming connection, in fewer than five seconds. Other games, such as Burnout Paradise, would load up more slowly, about the same as they seem to off of discs. Perlman's colleague started playing UT3, the game projected onto a big screen in the conference room where Perlman was talking. It ran smoothly. Because the games are streamed, other people can also log in and spectate the same gameplay session. So, Perlman, on a second computer, signed onto OnLive to spectate. He was now showing his live-stream view of the game on one projected screen, the actual gameplay on another. The spectating mode lagged slightly behind the live play.

The latest bandwidth requirements that a gamer needs to use OnLive, shared at DICE, are a 1.5 Mbps connection to play games in standard definition; 5 Mbps for HD gaming. The former is in about 71% of U.S. homes, Perlman said. The latter is in a little over a quarter.

Those who use the service will need to be within 1000 miles of an OnLive data center, Perlman said. He showed a map of the United States that marked coverage. There were some areas of overlap, with most of the U.S. covered. But he wasn't specific about how population density will affect that. His map showed that there are or will soon be OnLive data centers in the San Francisco area, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Atlanta.

The most impressive part of the demonstration was when a Perlman colleague loaded the OnLive client on her iPhone and began playing a streamed version of Crysis on it. Perlman, over his laptop connection, spectated her game in higher resolution. He pointed out that Crysis wasn't the best demonstration because its controls aren't ideal for an iPhone, but he clearly wanted to make a statement about the caliber of game that can be used across OnLive's platforms.

Notably, Perlman presented OnLive as a service that would work on computers, TVs, phones and "tablets," possibly a hint of the service's applicability to devices such as the iPad.

OnLive was announced about 11 months ago and went into public beta in September. Yesterday, Perlman said that his company "we will have things to announce soon" in terms of a release window.