OnLive set the industry atwitter when it unveiled its on-demand game-streaming service during this year's Game Developers Conference. By way of a PC and Mac software application or small TV plug-in device, OnLive promises to deliver new, top-tier titles from publishers such as Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Take-Two directly to gamers. However, many questions remain as to whether or not OnLive will deliver on its market-disrupting potential.
Unforutnately, answers to those questions won't be coming out of the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. In a post to the company's official blog, OnLive chief operating officer Mike McGarvey confirmed that his company would be skipping the Entertainment Software Association's annual event, and in the process derided the retail economic model that has thus far defined the gaming industry.
"Due to a number of different factors...the currently available distribution methods for video games present extreme challenges for developers and publishers," wrote McGarvey. "This isn't a new development by any means. For years, industry experts have been monitoring and predicting this outcome."
The former Eidos CEO went on to note that while development and distribution costs have skyrocketed in recent years, the retail price of games has remained relatively unchanged. The stagnant price point, he said, is further aggravated by piracy and game trade-ins, creating a situation in which it is incredibly difficult for publishers and developers to turn a profit on their products. This situation, McGarvey then quite naturally noted, is one that his company hopes to alleviate.
"We will be delivering the same top video games titles exclusively through broadband Internet, in the same release window they are available in retail, but with significant economic, convenience, and feature benefits to both publishers and gamers," he continued. "And, this is the main reason why OnLive won't have a booth at E3 this year. More than anything, E3 is a retail-oriented conference, both for retail platforms and retail publishers, and OnLive is neither."
OnLive is currently undergoing closed beta testing, with an open beta period planned for this summer. The service's full commercial launch is expected this winter. For more information on OnLive, check out GameSpot's extensive rundown of the service from this year's GDC.