EA sceptical about OnLive

Publisher concerned about lag, price.

EA has aired concerns about the pricing and usability of the new cloud gaming microconsole OnLive.

Speaking at the UBS Annual Media and Communications Conference in New York, CFO Eric Brown said, "As I understand it, OnLive costs you $10 to $15 a month, then you have to buy content on top of that. So if it's $15 a month, you're down $180 at the end of the year.

"That's about the price of a discounted high definition console," he continued. "And the library out there for the HD consoles is extensive."

Well, hang on there Eric, that's not quite right actually. OnLive recently announced it was scrapping the monthly subscription fee.

Brown went on to discuss a rather more valid concern though: the feasibility of lag-free gaming through a remote 'cloud'.

"Online delivery of games is different to online delivery of movies via Netflix and it has to do with latency," he explained.

"You can buffer up linear media. If you have a slow connection you can download for two or three minutes in advance and buffer any slow-down of the connection so you have a smooth viewing and entertainment experience.

"When it comes to videogames, particularly first person shooter games, anything less than a response time of 30 or 40 milliseconds is unacceptable and by definition anything going through a streaming platform is going to go through a series of switches etc.

"So the question I have long term is can that latency be overcome?" he asked.

"Now for certain genres that are more turn-based or slow-paced it might be sufficient, but then there's also a question about the economic model. $180 a year before any content is procured - that's something for the consumer to sort out."

Brown's comments echo Digital Foundry's analysis earlier this year which claimed, "During intense gameplay, OnLive is hovering right at the boundary of what is acceptable lag and often exceeds it, resulting in a variable, often unsatisfactory experience."

The microconsole just went on sale in the US, with a European release expected some time next year.

The platform holder recently revealed plans to offer buffet gaming for $9.99 a month, with a Netflix-esque movie streaming service also mooted for next year.

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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