OnLive is a system that promises to use "cloud computing" to let people play high-end videogames without having to pay for expensive consoles or PC hardware. Gameplay is handled by powerful servers connected to the user over broadband networks, meaning that even demanding games like Crysis can be played on conventional desktops or laptops, or through OnLive's own proprietary "MicroConsole."
"While retail has been the mainstay for distribution of top video game titles since the industry's inception, OnLive is now breaking that mold. 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," McGarvey wrote in his OnLive blog. "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. You'll hear and see plenty from us this year in the run up to our external Beta and launch, delivered directly to your home through your broadband connection."
Given the ongoing debate over the viability of OnLive, its absence from E3 is bound to spark conversations about whether or not it could become the next Phantom. McGarvey's explanation sounds reasonable on the surface, but E3 2009 is meant to mark the show's return to prominence and that means the publicity will be more intense than it has been in years. And while I've never been, I don't get the impression that E3 is so "retail oriented" that a product like OnLive would be at all out of place.
A truer test will be OnLive's beta program, which is currently taking applications and scheduled to begin sometime this summer. But until it takes place as planned, or fails to, doubt will continue to simmer, and skipping an opportunity like E3 does nothing to help inspire confidence.
via: Big Download