BT backs OnLive

The credibility of streaming game service OnLive has been given a serious boost this morning – British Telecom has become one of its investors.

Taking a small 2.6 per cent stake, the UK telecoms provider – best known for its UK telephone and broadband system and new TV on-demand service BT Vision – now has exclusive rights to bundle the OnLive Game Service with broadband in the UK.

OnLive works like this: The firm streams high-end game content to TVs, PCs and Macs, playable on a low-end web browser. It uses a software client on computers – and is set to use a small ‘micro console’ for those wishing to play on a TV. All serious game processing is done remotely from the home at server farms.

In the US, OnLive is staggering the launch of the console and HDTV versions – but the firm says it will launch both simultaneously in the UK after a public beta.

Although the firm has been running a widely-publicised by closed beta in the US, OnLive CEO Steve Perlman this morning revealed that the firm has been secretly running tests for the UK version of the service in Wales.

"I’m happy to report, that over the European Internet infrastructure, OnLive is AWESOME," said Perlman in an official statement posted on the OnLive blog. "We’ve tested OnLive across all of Western Europe spanning from the UK to Italy and from Scandinavia down to Spain.

OnLive officially and controversially was first unveiled in March 2009 at GDC after seven years in development. It officially launches in the US this summer – BT said it will announce further details about the UK launch plans later this year.

BT’s move into cloud gaming enhances what the telecoms firm says it ‘already offers in the entertainment area with BT Vision its on-demand digital TV service’.

Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Retail, commented: Entertainment is going to be at the heart of what we offer customers in the future. The partnership with OnLive complements our existing BT Vision service. It’s great for our customers – they’ll have access to a huge catalogue of games, available instantly on their TV or PC without expensive hardware. And it’s great for BT – it will enhance our premium broadband position and we’ll be entering into a market that’s worth more than 2billion.”

Perlman added: The UK market is extremely important to OnLive and our videogame publishing partners as we expand into Europe. We view BT as the ideal UK partner. As gamers are moving increasingly to online game distribution, OnLive delivers video games as a pure form of online media, playable instantly on almost any video-capable device attached to the internet. The implications are nothing short of transformative to video games and in time, all interactive media. OnLive is delighted to be pioneering this revolutionary technology in the UK together with BT”.

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