Word comes out this morning that OnLive will not be attending E3. This is extremely disappointing. Even though I will not be at E3 in person (sadly), I was really looking forward to seeing this service displayed to the press. There are still a number or questions about OnLive, namely how they will manage to keep latency low enough to make games, particularly competitive online games, playable.
For those who missed it from prior trade shows, OnLive is a service that will stream modern PC and console games to your computer (OS X or Vista) via a browser plugin, or to your TV via a small box. The games will actually be running on OnLive servers. Only the visuals will be streamed to your screen. If you think of it as playing on an XBox with several miles of cable connecting your controller to the console and the console to the TV, you have the basic idea.
The list of vendors and publishers partnering with this company is impressive. Any company that can claim NVidia, Valve, Epic, Atari, EA and others as partners certainly seems to pass the credibility test. This system, if it works as promised at a competitive price, could have a greater effect on game distribution than Steam did. This is exactly the sort of technology that should be at E3. Even if they are only showing the same demos we have already seen, every new member of the press who gets hands on with this system will only build that much more anticipation for the eventual release. At the very least, I hope they will change their minds, book a hotel suite near the the convention center and let the skeptical press play a game or two on some off the shelf laptops through the OnLive system.
For those, like me, who cannot wait to see if this system can work as advertised, there are beta signups available on the OnLive site. Beta starts this summer.