OnLive gets $40 million from smartphone maker HTC

The OnLive cloud gaming service is getting an injection of cash courtesy of smartphone maker HTC. This story over at Engadget pegs the investment at $40 million, adding that the money will fund OnLive's foray into the world of mobile gaming.

On the surface, that makes a whole lot of sense. OnLive's most compelling attribute is that, because games are run remotely on the company's servers, your client system doesn't need to do any of the heavy lifting. Even anemic netbooks can enjoy titles like Metro 2033, DiRT 2, and Batman: Arkham Asylum, albeit with the sort of visual fidelity one might expect from a standard-definition YouTube video. The loss of graphical quality will probably be more difficult to detect when running games on a tiny smartphone display.

And, hey, you'd be running big-name PC games on a smartphone.

There are, however, a few problems. One is bandwidth. OnLive's minimum system requirements call for a 3Mbps Internet connection, but even with 15Mbps down, I still encountered noticeable latency when sampling OnLive last year. Even more daunting is how much bandwidth is actually used by the service. While playing Unreal Tournament 3, I was burning about 38MB per minute. That'll make quick work of all but the most generous data plans.

The other issue is control. Smartphones have few buttons, and control schemes designed for console gamepads or keyboard-and-mouse combos don't translate well to touch screens. OnLive certainly has its work cut out if cloud gaming is to become an attractive mobile gaming platform.

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