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OnLive boss counters lag criticism

"The algorithms are getting better."

OnLive boss Steve Perlman has countered criticism of his video game streaming tech from those who say it suffers from lag.

The latency experienced when playing OnLive, which lets users game through the internet as opposed to local hardware, is, according to Perlman, a lot less than the latency experienced with many console games.

"In terms of the latency you get from a current console and the latency you get from OnLive, it's very, very close," Perlman told Eurogamer.

"In fact, with some of the improvements you'll see coming out this summer, in a lot of cases it'll get to be less."

Perlman explained how OnLive, due out in the UK in the autumn, is able to achieve this.

"Video games today, when they're built for Xbox 360, PS3 or even PC, they have pre-render queues," he said.

"In order to get as much realism as they can with the processing hardware they have, they introduce multi-frame lag in games. There is some period of delay before the result hits the screen.

"We're able to compensate for that because we have state of the art servers with very high performance GPUs. A 2005 class Xbox or PS3 game, when you put it on a 2011 class server, we don't have to have that pre-render queue. Instead, we use that time for the network delay. The algorithm keeps getting better and better."

Perlman said that much of what OnLive does to combat latency is based on "a perceptual point of view" as opposed to a scientific one.

"We don't tune the system by some sort of scientific measurement on latency," he said. "We tune the game system from a human perceptual point of view to try to make it so the game plays as good as possible.

"There are different algorithms used for different games. In fact, there are over a hundred algorithms used for different types of connections, whether it's cable, DLS or fibre... certainly Wi-fi and 3G are different."

In any case, OnLive is targeted at a mainstream audience, Perlman said, for which latency may not be a particularly big issue.

"If you're a PC gamer or a hardcore gamer and you've got a state of the art machine and all you want to do is tune it up and have the best quality, that's great. We're glad there are people like that," he said.

"Really, we don't expect this to displace the people who are hardcore gamers, who really want the maximum performance out of it. We expect this to reach a more mainstream audience and hopefully bring a lot more people into the gaming community than had been there before."