Cloud gaming service OnLive will launch in the UK on September 22, the company has confirmed.
The service, which offers over 100 games playable on HDTV, PC, Mac, iPad and Android tablets, launched in the US last June. While full access to games requires a monthly subscription, membership is free, with users able to instantly play demos of or rent the games available. New releases will be available at the same time as they hit store shelves.
Games are playable on PC and Mac through web browsers, on tablets through native apps, and on an HDTV using a set-top box. The service was recently updated with a raft of social features, with users able to post status updates and video clips to Facebook.
"OnLive will utterly transform gaming in the UK," CEO Steve Perlman said in a press release. "No discs, big downloads or specialised hardware needed. High-performance gaming as accessible as streaming video, with unique social features."
The company is working with BT, its official broadband partner in the UK, and will be announcing more details shortly. It intends to roll out the service across Europe later this year.
Last month, Perlman claimed that OnLive parent Rearden Companies had made a fundamental breakthrough in wireless technology, that meant OnLive was capable of sub-millisecond latency at ranges that reach beyond the curvature of the planet. Many, however, remain sceptical of just how technologically viable cloud gaming will be as graphics continue to improve and greater pressure is put on broadband connections.
Carl Jones, director of global business development at Crytek, told us in June that cloud gaming's potential would be hamstrung until ISPs addressed fundamental problems with latency. "Gaming desperately needs it," he said, "and I guess we're not a big enough force to make the companies that control it improve it. In principle we're all looking for a time when the necessity for hard storage isn't there, but the ability to do it online isn't there either."
A recent study of UK broadband connections by telecoms regulator Ofcom found that just 68 per cent of UK residents had broadband, with the average maximum speed just 7.5Mbps. While that is enough to satisfy OnLive's minimum requirement of 2Mbps, as well as its recommended 5Mbps, a study into the nation's actual download speeds tells a different story.
That study, carried out by speed optimisation firm Pando Networks, found that the average UK download speed was just 481KBps, equal to just over half the average maximum identified by Ofcom. BT, OnLive's UK partner, was the worst-performing ISP, with an average speed of 399KBps and completion rate of 77 per cent.