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

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

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Yes, it's a modified version of the game really, so it's an OnLive version. But at the core of our game servers is essentially a PC architecture.

So your versions of multiplatform games look better than the console versions?

They do, which is nice. We're pretty happy with how all of the by-products or unintended consequences of how our system are playing out.

Why haven't you been snapped up by a household name company yet? Have you had any acquisition offers or been approached?

We really want to make this company work as a stand-alone entity. We've tried to do that from the beginning with the partnerships we've put in place, we've tried to focus on delivering the best gaming experiences first. All the existing household names have great businesses in the console space or high-end PC space. We're trying to do something different.

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I think the problem with getting acquired is that when you're trying to do something different it diminishes the value. We designed this thing from the get go to go it alone but with a lot of partners. The partners in the UK are British Telecom - that's a good partner to have for a network-only, internet-centric service like this. You don't have to be a BT customer to get OnLive but we'll certainly be promoting it together and continue to optimise the network for it.

Lots of people have expressed interest and it's very flattering and nice to hear that stuff, but we're not considering it, it's not on the horizon, but maybe someday. Who knows.

Do you think your service is getting the credit it deserves?

We started off in the US with a soft launch, we did some PR and said "hey, this is neat and revolutionary technology", but we didn't really market or push it hard because we were still developing what it was. We started off with 10 games and now have 150, so we were basically trying to build up the library and functionality, to have achievements, voice chat and things like that.

We didn't launch with that... we limped out with the fundamental architecture - which changes everything in that you're playing a game 100 miles or more away - but we didn't have a fully robust feature set that gets everybody excited.

Now we've put all that together over the course of the last year. There's a library of games and a really cool feature set that other platforms can't do, such as the fact that you're playing super high-end games on a tablet for example. Now we have a really robust platform so we have the ability to come out guns blazing in the UK and show everybody the opportunity is huge.

I think we just haven't really talked about it much in the UK yet so I don't think we deserve any credit, but soon hopefully we'll get some good reactions.

In the US we've seen it turn into this hockey stick. Since we did a soft launch we've added a bunch of features and push on it more recently, so we're seeing our user base grow like crazy. The articles that get written are very positive and our partners, the publishers and developers in game development who build stuff for our platform, they love us right now, and the consumers are starting to say wonderful things about us.

Those are the two groups, if you make them happy the rest works itself out. I'm actually pretty happy with the reception we've had so far.

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Can your servers out-perform the big platform holders?

Yes, and it only gets better. That's the two pronged answer. Right now we have high-end gaming servers running the games. It's more than the average person has in their home, whether it's a console or a PC. If you want to spend ten grand you could build a rig better than I have in the data cabinet but that's the lunatic fringe that would do that.

That said, since we're in server centres every nine to ten months we get to upgrade the back-end, we get to add servers, the latest graphics cards with more memory, CPU and so our platform keeps getting faster and faster every year instead of the Xbox which is sitting in your living room and isn't getting any faster since the day they released it in 2005.

So the service will improve over time then?

In a very big way. Our curve looks just like the PC curve, which is graphics cards get faster every year and we install new categories of servers that have the latest and greatest of kit.

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