OnLive launches cloud gaming

OnLive, a potentially revolutionary online gaming service, has been launched at the annual E3 video game trade show to cautious support from the industry.

The first large “cloud gaming” service aims to stream console versions of games over the Internet to tens of thousands of players at once, removing the need for the console or for games to be bought in stores. The service initially makes 23 titles available.

“We are using the Internet and computers in ways that have never been tried before,” said Steve Perlman, OnLive founder and chief executive, in a blog note. “Like any new technology, you can expect a few bumps on take-off, until we reach cruising altitude and achieve a smooth flight.”

The digital service is attractive to games publishers in removing the costs of making and distributing packaged goods. They could cut out the cost of retailers and avoid both paying licensing fees to console makers and losing sales in the used disk-based games trade. But publishers are cautious about putting brand new releases on an unproven service and risking upsetting established relationships with retailers.

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