OnLive is attempting to apply the video streaming over broadband model to games, where subscribers can play video games like NBA 2K10 over a broadband connection, without having to buy a console like Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. Some have likened it to ‘video games in the cloud.’ OnLive announced the service is available, having launched on June 17th.
Subscribers pay OnLive a monthly subscription fee, which is currently $4.95/month, plus have to buy the actual game titles. For that, they can play the game online, either on a PC, or soon, on their broadband connected TV. OnLive will also offer a variety of social gaming features to the service, including multi-player gaming, spectator viewing of other players, and ‘bragging rights video clips’ which can be shared with the OnLive gaming community.
BroadbandReports.com points out that subscribers need to be within 1,000 miles of an OnLive data center and need at least a stable 1.5 Mb/s broadband connection (5 Mb/s for ‘HD’ games) to use the service.
OnLive is a great example of the type of bandwidth hungry broadband application becoming increasingly available to broadband subs, with significant implications for broadband service providers. We’re talking about long sessions of 1.5 Mb/s to 5 Mb/s connectivity for potentially numerous subscribers in any given node. Interestingly enough, AT&T is sponsoring a free one year subscription to a limited number of OnLine ‘founding members.’
I’m not necessarily sold on the OnLive product, especially since you have to subscribe to the service AND buy the games. I’m not sure that’s a great enough value proposition over the already hugely popular gaming console purchase model. But OnLive is worth noting because of the aforementioned trend of bandwidth hungry broadband apps and their implications.