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Interviews

OnLive: 'Our hardware constantly improves... Xbox hasn't changed since 2005'

Part One: VP John Spinale explains his ambitious cloud gaming service...

Ambitious cloud gaming service OnLive arrives on UK shelves on Thursday and could well be the next major step in digital distribution and how we play games. That's if all goes well, anyway.

We've attempted to answer all of your burning questions in our OnLive UK FAQ, but there are some queries that are better put to the men behind the tech.

We sat down with OnLive's VP of games & media John Spinale, who walked us through some of the platform's exciting features. Look for part two of our interview later this week.

Are most games publishers on board with OnLive?

Yes. Almost all publishers and developers are on board. That's publishers and developers together, because on some level digital distribution starts to blur the line between publisher and developer. A lot of the little indie guys self-publish their own titles and obviously some of the big publicly traded publishing houses have lots and lots of developers that self-publish their own stuff.

In any case there's a large number of people on the platform right now and the vast majority of third-party games as they come out going forward will be on OnLive pretty much day and date. What's fun about that is say, Deus Ex, from the minute we were aloud to start selling it, players will sit there with their controllers and start playing at 12:01.

What's cool about that is that you don't have to wait for the download, go to the store, install it... you're just playing. We see people now desperate to start playing new releases as quickly as they can, get through the game, start showing their friends they were first, get Achievements the fastest or even get good at multiplayer so they can school their friends by the time their friend buys it and gets home the next day. We've seen so much of that behaviour it's really funny.

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We have the ability to have trailers as well, whether its developer diaries or commentary. We have a feature called the 'Arena', where you can watch other people playing the game live. You can pre-order games, get special promotional details, discounts and other goodies along the way.

The way OnLIve works is that it is free, so you can come in and play all the demos for free. If you like what you're playing you can choose to rent or buy the game. In this case there are three-day rentals or five-day rentals for six or nine dollars or you can buy the full version for full retail price which is $50. We haven't announced UK pricing but you'll see similarity to existing digital channels.

When you start a game in the background a server is fired up with the game, it takes profiles and moves it to that server so all save games follow the player no matter where in the world they are. All user information and save games go with them. All that takes is something like eight seconds and then you're playing the game in under the time it would take to walk over to an Xbox and put in the disc.

What's the response time like when playing a fast-paced action game?

It's, good, really good. At the end of the day it has to be a responsive platform, it has to feel good otherwise people just won't play it.

Since the game is being streamed off a server, does that mean the PC version of games are being used?

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