OnLive strikes deal with BT in the UK, brings streaming video game service across the pond

Take that, traditional distribution model!

OnLive, the streaming video game service that threatens to change the way people perceive gaming, has signed a deal with with British Telecommunications. The deal means that Britons will be able to play games like Mass Effect 2 and Assassin’s Creed II over their broadband connection (and it also means that BT will buy a small stake in the company). No UK launch date has been announced. The U.S. launch is still on schedule for June 17.

Surely you’ve heard of OnLive. The idea is to let subscribers—the service will cost $14.95 per month—play all the latest PC games over a broadband connection from inside their Web browser, à la Quake Live. Knowing what I know about residential Internet connections, I’ve long been skeptical about the service’s ability to work in the “real world.” The average Internet connection is largely crummy, either not particularly fast or not particularly stable. So if OnLive can produce a service that’s even remotely useable, given the state of American broadband, it should absolutely be considered an achievement.

That said, I reserve the right to say “I’ll believe it when I see it,” where “see it” means up and running at a random residential location and not at a trade show or anything unrealistic like that.

Certainly the publisher support is there in EA, Ubisoft, and 2K Games. (No Activision?)

One thing that may be overblown, or not quite “right,” and that’s the idea of making PC gaming more “accessible.” I think you’ll find that PC gamers aren’t demanding that their hobby be any more “accessible.” If you want to play Mass Effect 2 without having to worry about whether or not your GPU can handle it, perhaps you should be playing the Xbox 360 version?

Very interested to see how this turns out.