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EA Sceptical About OnLive Latency

By - Source: Eurogamer | B 34 comments
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After getting OnLive's subscription model wrong, EA CFO revealed his concerns over the cloud gaming service's latency.

In addition to chatting about BioWare's upcoming MMOG Star Wars: The Old Republic, EA CFO Eric Brown took a shot at cloud-based gaming service OnLive during his presentation at the UBS Annual Media and Communications Conference in New York. Unfortunately, he didn't get his facts in order before pointing fingers.

"As I understand it, OnLive costs you $10 to $15 a month, then you have to buy content on top of that," he said. "So if it's $15 a month, you're down $180 at the end of the year. That's about the price of a discounted high definition console. And the library out there for the HD consoles is extensive."

That of course is incorrect. As previously reported, accounts are free, however members can choose from three models for each game: a 3-day pass, a 5-day pass, or basically purchasing the game in the form of a "Full PlayPass." OnLive is also working on an all-you-can-play subscription service for $9.95 per month, however it's currently in beta for stand-alone OnLive console owners.

Despite the pricing error, Brown brought up an important factor that could make or break OnLive's service: latency. He pointed out that online delivery of games is different to online delivery of movies via Netflix. "You can buffer up linear media," he said. "If you have a slow connection you can download for two or three minutes in advance and buffer any slow-down of the connection so you have a smooth viewing and entertainment experience."

"When it comes to videogames, particularly first person shooter games, anything less than a response time of 30 or 40 milliseconds is unacceptable and by definition anything going through a streaming platform is going to go through a series of switches etc," he added. He then questioned if the latency can be overcome in the long term, noting that the current response time might be sufficient for certain genres that are more turn-based or slow-paced.

Previously Digital Foundry discovered that OnLive was actually hovering right at the boundary of what's considered as acceptable lag during intense gameplay and often exceeded it, however that report was presented back in July.

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Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    DokkRokken , December 9, 2010 1:16 AM
    I'm not sure EA is the company who should be calling out others over something like gameplay.
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    DokkRokken , December 9, 2010 1:16 AM
    I'm not sure EA is the company who should be calling out others over something like gameplay.
  • 6 Hide
    gladiator_mohaa , December 9, 2010 1:22 AM
    EA is not perfect, but they did release free map packs for Bad Company 2 all year. Bad Company 2 is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination either but that has to be better than anything Activision would do for their customers I think.
  • Display all 34 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    jerreece , December 9, 2010 1:32 AM
    I won't be playing Bad Company 2 via OnLive anytime soon, this I promise you.
  • 1 Hide
    rohitbaran , December 9, 2010 1:47 AM
    Well, I think Onlive can coexist with consoles. It is for those people who want to play for sometime, then get busy with their work, then come back again. To some extent, it is like renting a game, only better if you consider that you get a whole lot more. But yes, latency is one hell of a problem, at least for fast paced games.
  • 2 Hide
    megahustler , December 9, 2010 2:18 AM
    Exactly my concern. OnLive faces both a bandwidth and a latency problem. Solving a bandwidth problem is often easy - throw a bigger tube at the problem.

    Solving a latency problem is often much more tricky. Throwing a bigger tube at a latency problem will sometimes increase latency, rather than decrease it.

    Online games, such as Counterstrike and the like, will often use different tricks to hide or at least reduce the players perception of latency. With online delivery of the actual screen image, these methods are impossible.

    I think OnLive will have serious issues with FPS games, but will probably work ok for more casual games.
  • 4 Hide
    juncture , December 9, 2010 3:18 AM
    "anything less than a response time of 30 or 40 milliseconds is unacceptable"

    you mean anything more than?
  • 1 Hide
    soundping , December 9, 2010 4:15 AM
    Online gamers with metered internet will be 100% screwed.
  • 1 Hide
    Mark Heath , December 9, 2010 4:21 AM
    Here in Aus, often there are no/few local servers and a good ping is less than 200 :( .
  • -1 Hide
    proxy711 , December 9, 2010 6:00 AM
    Last time i played Onlive (Im a founding PC owner) there was very noticeable lag. while some single player games would be just fine, others like fps and multiplayer wouldn't be "playable" IMO.
  • 1 Hide
    dEAne , December 9, 2010 6:03 AM
    One day gamers will understand this and stop playing it.
  • 1 Hide
    wolfseeker2828 , December 9, 2010 6:54 AM
    "EA Sceptical"


    Spell check is your friend.
  • 0 Hide
    kronos_cornelius , December 9, 2010 7:38 AM
    I was agreeing with most comments against the feasibility of OnLive. But I changed my mind. phones and tablets would be able to benefit from this service, and the latency problem can be resolved by having server farms close to where the gamers are.

    I just check the RTT from here to a server 300 miles aways, and it came back 8ms.
  • 0 Hide
    Trashit , December 9, 2010 9:06 AM
    Mark HeathHere in Aus, often there are no/few local servers and a good ping is less than 200 .

    Yep I'm with you right there. Trying to play a FPS on a US based server is like running around naked with a target painted on your back yelling "FREE KILL!!!". Even something like WoW/lotro which is rather friendly to high pings can get frustrating at times. Servers between Aus East coast and NZ is about as far away as you can go before the latency demon rears its ugly head. It's for this reason that huge LAN gatherings are still so popular here, aside from that they're huge fun :) 
  • -1 Hide
    harth13 , December 9, 2010 9:12 AM
    that aint good
  • 1 Hide
    gh0st , December 9, 2010 10:47 AM
    They might be ok if they don't have to use hops/routes through comcast...
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , December 9, 2010 10:48 AM
    "EA Sceptical"


    Spell check is your friend.

    Sceptical is the same as Skeptical. Google is 'your' friend.
  • -1 Hide
    g00fysmiley , December 9, 2010 12:08 PM
    translation... we make more money on consoles than this please but our games on consoles so we can keep selling physical media at hyper inflated prices since peopel have shown they will generally nto wanna pay the same price for a digital copy of the software... when they should see it as a positive because you can't reselll a digital copy its a way of not losing possible sales to the used video game market... once this is done hopefully gamestop will go out of buisness
  • -2 Hide
    reggieray , December 9, 2010 12:15 PM
    OnLive, not in my house.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , December 9, 2010 2:14 PM
    I'm surprised EA is talking this way about OnLive. Yes, latency could be a problem, but EA should be working with OnLive, not against them. How many EA games come with Securom because EA is worried about piracy (even if their invasive DRM stops no one)? OnLive is simply a games platform, a games platform where it is impossible to pirate (since you don't have any copy of the game, you can't crack and distribute anything). The only way to bypass OnLive's security would be to hack into someone's account and play their games, you can't Bittorrent anything or install a mod chip.

    I would think EA and other publishers would be more than excited to jump on this platform. Heck, even if the latency is bad, it doesn't cost the companies anything. These are PC games, they don't have to develop for the platform like they do the XBox and PS3. Heck, they can just stick to the same B.S. of porting a console game to the PC that they're already sticking us consumers with.
  • -4 Hide
    waethorn , December 9, 2010 2:15 PM
    Google is 'your' friend.

    Google is nobodies friend.
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