Online Videogames Herald the End of Discs—and Expensive PCs

Gaming grows up, moves out

Dim Those Dashboard Lights
Courtesy OnLive

Play the latest videogames without investing in an ultra-fast computer, a pricey console or even a disc from the local game store. Just log onto OnLive, a Web service that runs processor-hogging games on its own computers and zaps them over the Internet to almost any screen, including your cheap laptop or TV.

Game Show
Play OnLive’s games on a TV using a controller and small console. Or 
play on any computer, no extras neededCourtesy OnLive

The action is almost as quick as if it came from a box in your living room. When you press a key, whether to shoot an enemy or catch a ball, OnLive's servers calculate the next image at least 15 times as rapidly as an ordinary desktop PC does. Then software compresses the image so it can reach you in less than 80 milliseconds. This compression differs for each user, because OnLive constantly measures the speed of your Internet connection to determine how much data it can squeeze through. Sometimes it decreases the pictures' quality, but they look natural in motion.

Kiss Disks Goodbye
Courtesy OnLive

OnLive works on PCs and Macs with a simple browser plug-in, and on TVs when you add a small console [right]. The beta program begins this summer, and although subscription prices for the winter launch haven't been set, they'll certainly beat the cost of buying a gaming rig plus Crysis Warhead, Major League Baseball 2K9 and the rest of the dozen-plus available games.

Get It: OnLive Game Service and MicroConsole
Price not set; onlive.com