Onlive CEO Discusses Post-Launch Conditions

Onlive CEO Steve Perlman talks about how they are cooping with the launch of their cloud computing service. This Cnet interview covers quite a bit of areas that the Onlive team is currently facing. For example, we get to know why exactly they have a limit on fully purchased games.

We have to put a stake in the ground somewhere. We could put five years, we could put two years. It’s less of an issue about the licenses evaporating, and more of an issue of whether or not we continue to maintain the operating systems and the graphics cards to run those games. If a game is tied to a particular Nvidia or ATI card, or if it’s relying on a particular version of Windows with different drivers, we can’t be sure that those will continue to be available as our servers age and need to be replaced. If it’s a popular game that can’t run on old hardware anymore, the publishers can do an upgrade for the game. Also, servers usually do last longer than three years, so chances are we’ll keep running them. But we have a legal obligation to disclose what might happen. I think the probability of us pulling a game in three years is on the order of 0.1 percent. It’s also highly unlikely that a game server will evaporate after three years, but we have to allow for that possibility.

We do expect these games to be available indefinitely. But there’s nothing I can do to give someone comfort who really wants to own the physical media. If we told them it was around for 10 years, they’d still say we’re not so sure the company is around in 10 years.

Their answer is a bit comforting yet edgy at the same time. Perlman basically states they plan to support a game for as long as either the company is still around or as long as their own hardware supports the game. In addition, he explains why the service does not support wifi and he apologizes for it.

I literally apologized to people about Wi-Fi. It was a very difficult decision because it does work with OnLive. The way OnLive works is that it adapts to every single connection and it’s constantly readapting. If we have the complexities of people’s home Internet service, and then we compound that with the interference that’s happening with wireless, it’s very difficult for us to diagnose what’s going on. And our customer service people had not had enough experience talking with users in order to handle those kinds of problems. So we decided to go slow.

It turned out to be a smart move. We have people not signing up because we don’t have Wi-Fi, and if they had there’s no way we could have met the demand. We would have had to turn people away. So waiting on Wi-Fi ended up putting a damper on growth that actually saved our butts. But what we are doing now is collecting statistics, we’re helping diagnose problems in people’s homes, and once we wrap our heads around that, we can open up Wi-Fi. By the fall, no worries, you’ll be able to connect with Wi-Fi.

What about 1080p? Currently they are working on increasing the maximum resolution and some beta users are actually successfully running Onlive at 1080p. However, there are a few speed bumps that could hinder the user to get the best visual experience possible. Onlive is limited by the users connection speed and the user’s max support resolution.

Once we release 1080p, if a user’s connection speed, display resolution, or computer performance limits them to 720p, then we will automatically scale the video down to 720p. Beyond that, if the user’s configuration will only support say, 1,600 pixels wide, we will scale to that resolution. We already are doing that today if a user’s computer is only 1,024 pixels wide. And the bandwidth requirements will be reduced accordingly.

Cnet’s interview is well thought out and asks the questions consumers want answered. You can check out the full interview by heading on over to