SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OnLive is set to launch its “cloud-based” video game service in June, as the closely watched start-up looks to challenge home console heavyweights with the promise of on-demand gaming.
OnLive will roll out to PC and Mac users in the United States on June 17, charging customers $14.95 a month for instant access to games from publishers including Electronic Arts Inc, Ubisoft Entertainment SA and THQ Inc.
Users will pay to rent or buy titles through OnLive, but game prices were not announced. A packaged new release generally costs around $60.
OnLive Chief Executive Steve Perlman said the service was going to be “disruptive” to the game industry in general and to home console makers Nintendo Co Ltd, Microsoft Corp and Sony Corp in particular.
He said OnLive will help publishers by combating software piracy, reducing sales of used titles and improving margins, which are lower on packaged software than they are for titles distributed digitally.
“You’re able to deliver games directly from the publisher now to the consumer,” Perlman said at the Game Developers Conference on Wednesday. “People have no patience; they want something now.”
“OnLive will deliver games run from the so-called “cloud,” meaning they are stored remotely on servers, rather than locally on a PC or a console. It promises lag-free access to games that can be played on nearly any personal computer or television.
OnLive was under stealth development for seven years, and was formally introduced a year ago to much fanfare. Although some question whether the technology will work as promised, if it does, analysts said the service could indeed pose a challenge to console makers.
OnLive has data centers around the U.S. filled with servers to handle user demand. Perlman declined to say when the service might roll out to other markets such as Europe.
Perlman is well-known in Silicon Valley. He helped launch WebTV, which Microsoft bought in 1997.
OnLive’s financial backers include AT&T Inc Media Holdings Inc, Lauder Partners, Time Warner Inc unit Warner Bros, Autodesk Inc and Maverick Capital.
Reporting by Gabriel Madway, editing by Gerald E. McCormick