MediaFile

Cloud gaming service OnLive coming to the TV

US-REARDEN-ONLIVEOnLive, the closely-watched startup that is aiming to change the way people buy and play video games, officially launched last June. But the company says that was a mere warmup for the main event, which begins in a few weeks.

OnLive emerged from years of stealth development in 2009 with a somewhat audacious plan to offer so-called “cloud gaming”:  instant, on-demand and lag-free access to video games stored remotely on servers in data centers.

The service started last June but was only accessible through a PC. But starting Thursday, OnLive began taking orders for its $99 “microconsole,” which connects easily to a TV and which will be delivered starting Dec. 2. Using the console, users can access a catalog of games that will grow to 50 by the end of the year, including big-name titles such as “Borderlands” and “NBA 2K11″

OnLive poses a threat to traditional home consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PS3, but only if it works as advertised and there are no stutters or hiccups in the game stream.

OnLive Chief Executive Steve Perlman said the carefully managed launch for PCs last June was to ensure that the company’s network could indeed handle the demand. But he said PC gaming only represents around 10 percent of the market, and that TVs are where the real action is. He won’t divulge OnLive’s user base, but said it has already hosted more than than 2 million game sessions.

E3: Dancing with Xbox Kinect on Day 1

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Day one of the 2010 E3 video game conference was dominated by news from Microsoft, who told us a little more about Xbox 360 with Kinect, the gesture/motion system that lets users do many things on screen without the need for a controller. The system, due in November, poses a threat to top dog console the Nintendo’s Wii, and Sony’s new add-on, called Move.

But I’ll tell you who should be worried: those Dance competition video game folks. Microsoft demonstrated a pad-less, controller-less dance game that looked like a lot more fun than stomping on a giant pad with arrows. Check out the video below…

Here is the unboxing of the new factor of the Xbox 360, which is smaller, and has built in Wi-Fi. (via giantbomb.com)

Waiting for Xbox Kinect (nee Natal)

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Today is the day that Microsoft fully takes the wraps off of its much-anticipated motion/gesture system “Project Natal” for the Xbox 360 system. Its press conference promises to be one of the most important at this year’s E3 video game industry trade show in Los Angeles. It’s expected to come out in November in time for the holiday season.

The camera-based system got a early pre-introduction to the media last night — and a new name, “Kinect” — in a Cirque Du Soleil event that has been called both amazing and odd. We can’t tell you much about it since I did not attend, and Microsoft banned cameras. But we scoured the world (that is, you know, we googled Youtube) for some reports from those who got a glimpse (and snuck in cell phone cameras.)

Stay tuned for more details about the system and other development from E3. Until then, here’s a demo video of the kinds of things Natal will enable families to do — with no controllers.

PluggedIn: Gesture tech eyes growth

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By Unnikrishnan Nair and Mansi Dutta, in Bangalore

Gesture-recognition technology is set to motion in a new level of interactivity in everything from games to phones, and poses a serious challenge to the ubiquitous mouse and remote controls.

The technology works by tracking and interpreting hand and body movements of users, and is viewed by many as the next game changer in consumer electronics. Users can just wave their hands in front of a screen to bring up control menus and select the relevant option by pointing a finger. They can zoom pictures, raise and lower volume, switch on and off devices, or do just about anything they can with a mouse or a remote, all with different gestures.

Video game consoles are leading the way. Like Sony’s motion-sensing game console for its PlayStation 3, its answer to Nintendo’s popular Wii.

Saints over Colts, says EA’s “Madden”

maddenIf Electronic Arts’ recent track record on Super Bowl predictions is any guide, it looks like New Orleans may well bring home the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.

EA ran a simulation of the Super Bowl XLIV matchup through its popular “Madden NFL 10” game on the Xbox 360, and the Saints edged the Indianapolis Colts 35-31.

A little taste of play-by-play from the world of make-believe sports:

“With the game hanging in the balance, Drew Brees hits David Thomas for an 11-yard touchdown and the game winning score. Drew Brees takes home MVP honors as the Saints earn their first Super Bowl Championship title in the franchise’s 46 year history.”

THQ CEO: Don’t bet against the Wii

Remember how you couldn’t get a Nintendo Wii? Remember the long lines at retailers, and “No WIIs” signs in store windows. The Wii is still very popular, but the momentum has slowed a bit, leading some to wonder if it has lost its mojo.

And even though games like “Wii Fit Plus” and “Wii Sports Resort” are top sellers, adult action titles like Activision’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2″ and Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed” have been getting all of the fanfare.

But Brian Farrell, long-time CEO of THQ, which publishes games on the Wii including “All Star Cheer Squad”  and “World of Zoo” said that its the short-sighted game publisher who thinks the Wii is dead, if only because, you know, those things are everywhere, Farrell said at the Reuters Media Summit.

Black Friday sprint begins for video game industry

Black Friday marks the beginning of the most critical time of the year for video game makers, as customers jam stores on the day after Thanksgiving to pick up games and consoles as gifts.

As a brutal 2009 winds to a close, the gaming industry is hoping that a strong six weeks of sales in the United States, the largest market, could help them salvage something from the year.

Nintendo said Monday its Wii home console — the long-time U.S. champ that has been struggling lately — sold more than 550,000 units in the U.S. during Thanksgiving week. To put that in perspective, the company sold around 500,000 Wiis in all of October, according to industry tracker NPD.

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.

Sony cuts PS3 price, sounds confident about holidays

The long-anticipated price cut on Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game console might have come just in the nick of time, as industry sales continue to wilt in the heat of summer. Both game hardware and software sales have been flagging, but console price cuts typically spur game sales.

Sony took the PS3′s price to $299 from $399, and the company sounded bullish on its prospects for the holiday selling season.

“With this price move, we’re extremely confident,” said Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, in a interview. “I don’t think there’s anything more that we could realistically ask for in terms of putting us in a position to be successful this holiday, I really feel like everything’s lined up for us.”

No recession for solitaire on PCs

Forget the bells and whistles, realistic graphics, complex story lines and cinematic soundtracks. When it comes to video games, solitaire still rules.

According to Nielsen’s fourth-quarter “State of the Video Gamer” report, the most played PC video game in the United States is solitaire, the free, easily accessible and familiar time-waster adored by cubicle dwellers. The game, which is pre-installed on most Windows PCs, had more than 17 million players in December. Solitaire players aged 25 to 54 are apt to play it five times a week for about 30 minutes at a stretch

Females older than 25 made up the largest chunk of PC gamers in December, accounting for 46.2 percent of all players, Nielsen said.