OnLive beta latency issues explained

It only works in a 1000-mile range.

OnLive founder Steve Perlman has explained why some beta testers of the game-streaming service are experiencing latency issues (thanks VG247).

For the purposes of the beta test, OnLive is insisting players only use the service from a single location that is within 1000 miles of one of their data centres - in San Francisco, Dallas and Washington DC. Since each account works with one of those centres only, if it's tried from outside that range, latency will be unacceptable.

"While the production OnLive service will adapt to different configurations each time you connect, during beta testing each user is setup only to test a specific computer configuration (or MicroConsole TV Adapter version), a single Internet provider and, most importantly, a particular location," Perlman explained.

"If you change any of these factors, OnLive Beta may not even run, or if it does, the lag and/or graphics performance may render games unplayable. OnLive will try to detect these conditions and warn you, but when you are using OnLive in a different location, you are not providing us with usable test data.

"The reason location is so critical is because of the speed of light. If you are more than 1000 miles from an OnLive data center, then the round trip communications delay ('ping' time) between your home and OnLive will be too long for fast-action video games."

Perlman may have been responding to a recent preview of the OnLive beta, which criticised input lag on fast action games like Unreal Tournament 3 whilst praising load times.

"It is very possible that some of the input lag I witnessed is a result of me being further away from the service's servers than OnLive would like," wrote PC Perspective's Ryan Shrout, who admitted he'd been using the login information of a "friend of a friend of a friend".

For more on OnLive, be sure to check out Digital Foundry's most recent theories on the technology.

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