OnLive has issued a response of sorts to a recent critical preview of its cloud-based gaming system, saying it’s hardly surprising that an unauthorized, “friend of a friend of a friend” preview of technology in closed beta testing would yield less-than-optimal results.
PC Perspective published an unauthorized preview of OnLive last week, using login information passed on to the author by “a friend of a friend of a friend.” The report offered an interesting look at the current state of OnLive’s technology, but also hammered it for performing poorly with “fast-paced shooters” like Unreal Tournament 3, Crysis and Call of Juarez. “If you are an avid PC gamer you will likely be very disappointed by the experience, both in terms of image quality and input latency, of playing these types of games using OnLive,” the author concluded.
Even at this early stage, with the service nowhere near ready for release, that’s obviously not the kind of press coverage OnLive is looking for. Thus, CEO Steve Perlman posted a rebuttal on the OnLive blog, not directly addressing the report but clearly touching on the issues it covered.
“While the production OnLive service will adapt to different configurations each time you connect, during Beta testing each user is setup only to test a specific computer configuration (or MicroConsole TV Adapter version), a single Internet provider and, most importantly, a particular location,” he wrote. “If you change any of these factors, OnLive Beta may not even run, or if it does, the lag and/or graphics performance may render games unplayable. OnLive will try to detect these conditions and warn you, but when you are using OnLive in a different location, you are not providing us with usable test data.”
“If you are more than 1000 miles from an OnLive data center, then the round trip communications delay (‘ping’ time) between your home and OnLive will be too long for fast-action video games,” he continued. “OnLive has three data centers for its U.S. Beta test, with a blue circle around each showing the 1000-mile range. Your Beta account will only connect to the data center it was originally assigned to. So, if you are assigned to our West Coast data center and then try your Beta account from the Midwest or East Coast, you’ll find the lag impaired to the point where most games are unplayable.”
Perlman’s blog post actually led to a follow-up from PC Perspective, which said, “While I understand Perlman’s intent here, that is a blanket statement that just can’t apply 100 percent of the time. In a world where my computer has to talk to 14 different systems before it reaches pcper.com, any of those could cause a delay even if I am 100 miles from the physical server. The same is true for OnLive customers. Does being closer tend to help? Sure. Is it a guarantee of great performance (or bad performance outside 1000 miles)? Nope.”
PC Perspective is apparently facing legal actions as a result of the preview, “including a DMCA notice given to our website hosting service,” although no details were given. Nonetheless, the site appears to be taking it in stride. “It’s all about the discussion!” the author concluded. “As I mention throughout this preview, I actually have been more impressed with the performance and experience OnLive has provided that I expected going into the testing period – I would call that a win for the service in this early state.” He also acknowledged that he has been locked out of the beta, probably forever, but added that if OnLive wanted to offer him legitimate test access, he’d be willing to accept.