GDC: OnLive's Cloud-Powered Gaming Service To Launch June 17

During the GamesBeat keynote at GDC today, OnLive CEO Steve Perlman took the stage to showcase the company’s game streaming technology, which allows gamers to play high quality 3D games without a console — OnLive does all of the intense rendering in the cloud, then streams it back to a lightweight client that will work on nearly any computer (it will work on TVs as well with an adapter). We’ve been hearing about the service for quite a while now (as well as its competitor, OTOY), but now OnLive finally has a solid release date: June 17, 2010. At launch, the service will be available in the 48 contiguous states.

The service will have a $14.95 per month base service fee, and then users will purchase games and rentals on an a la carte model on top of that. You’ll be able to purchase multiple months at a time to get a discount on the service. As a special for early users, OnLive is going to waive the service fee for three months for the first 25,000 users to pre-register at this page.

OnLive’s demos are always impressive. Today, Perlman showcased the service’s ability to play recent games like Crysis on a large TV, as well as on his mobile phone (because all the processing is done in the cloud, even an iPhone can handle it). He also showed off other features that OnLive will offer, like streaming movies and Xbox Live-like community features. It looks great, but OnLive still faces one very major hurdle: latency. Because gamers aren’t actually playing their games on a local machine, there’s a slight lag whenever they do anything. And in the case of ‘twitchy’ games like first person shooters, even 50 milliseconds of lag time can make the difference between a perfect kill and getting destroyed by your opponent. It’s unclear how much lag will be present once OnLive is deployed on a wide scale.

At launch OnLive will be available for PC and Mac only, and a MicroConsole TV adapter (which lets your TV hook up to the cloud service) will appear later this year. 1080p60 will be available in 2011 (Perlman says bandwidth available to consumers is what’s holding this back). International announcements are coming later this year.

Also be sure to check out our past coverage of OnLive competitor OTOY.