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Cloud-gaming service OnLive opens up

OnLive, the “cloud-based” gaming service that generated plenty of interest when it was announced in May, is opening itself up.

The company is aiming to challenge game console makers Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony with a bold and ambitious service: on-demand, lag-free access to graphically rich games, which can be played on any TV and nearly any PC, even budget netbooks.

Analysts say such a product could fundamentally change the economics of the multibillion dollar video game industry. The only question is how well OnLive works, and some have expressed skepticism. Since its splashy introduction, little has been heard from the company, which was busy testing its service internally and installing servers in its data centers to handle traffic. OnLive delivers games run on servers in the cloud, rather than locally on a PC or a console.

The company is now opening the OnLive beta to testing from outside gamers, said Steve Perlman, the company’s founder and CEO, in a blog post. Perlman is a well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur who helped launch WebTV, which Microsoft bought in 1997. You can sign up to test OnLive at http://www.onlive.com/beta_program.html.

“One of the key challenges that OnLive technology addresses is providing a high-quality, fast-response gaming experience over a wide range of situations: different speeds/locations/types of broadband services, a variety of different PC and Mac configurations, several kinds of input and display devices, etc. So, a major focus of OnLive Beta is to test as many of these different situations as we can,” Perlman said in his post.

from Commentaries:

Revolution?

Video compression technology can be interesting, really.

On2 CEO on Beet TVMost people forget how online video worked before YouTube popularized the embedded Flash video player. Remember the frustration of making sure you had the right video player to play this or that web video? It was YouTube that popularized giving people one-click access to videos.

On Wednesday, Google said it had agreed to acquire On2 Technologies, a maker of video compression technology, in a deal that could have sweeping effects for how video works on the web. The Internet search leader has a bland blog post about how it intends to use On2 to innovate in how video working on the Web, but it isn't at all clear how far it Google is ready to go.

On2 stock chart before and after Google offerThere's lots of speculation that Google may choose to open source, or give away, On2's video compression technology, undercutting royalty-bearing video compression technologies in use across the Web. That could undermine Adobe and its widely used Flash player, Microsoft, with its Silverlight alternative, not to mention Apple Inc and RealNetworks. Dan Frommer at Silicon Alley Insider spells out how far-reaching the Google gambit could be.  As a counterpoint, Dan Rayburn of StreamingMedia.com argues the Google move is no big deal.