OnLive streaming video game service to hit TVs

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OnLive, the streaming video game service that generated massive buzz and bewilderment when it was announced last year, is finally coming to the television.

The service, which lets players play games over an Internet connection without having to buy a disc, has been up and running on personal computers for several months. But the San Francisco company held back on releasing a version for the TV until it could work out kinks in the service.

Now with more than 2 million play sessions under its belt, OnLive on Thursday announced it is taking orders for its $99 micro-console system for TVs, which is expected to ship Dec. 2.

The system consists of a wireless game controller and device the size of a large cell phone that can plug into a TV and connect to the Internet. The service is free to browse, but game rentals cost between $5 and $9, while purchases range from $10 to $50.


So far, the catalog of titles are limited, with just 37 full-length games. By the end of the year, OnLive is expected to have more than 50 games, many of them new releases, said Steve Perlman, OnLive’s chief executive.

What’s holding back the supply of games is a wait-and-see stance by game publishers. Game producers like digital distribution services such as OnLive because there are no discs to produce, some of which end up on used games shelves where publishers don’t get a cut of the resale. But many companies are also wary of disrupting their relationships with physical retailers that currently provide the lion’s share of the industry’s revenue.

Perlman sees that shifting as consumers become more accustomed to digitally distributed entertainment.

‘Publishers working with us have been receiving checks from us every month,’ Perlman said. ‘That’s done more for our credibility within the industry than anything else.’

-- Alex Pham