OnLive's Lag Tested With SCIENCE

OnLive, a streaming service that hopes to replace both PCs and consoles as the gaming setup of the future, has its sceptics, who say it's too laggy to work. Why listen to them, when you can listen to science?

The boffins at DigitalFoundry have rigged up a PC and some testing units to see just how much lag OnLive really suffers from. At least in the case of this PC and this internet connection (its performance will of course vary on your location and bandwidth).

Don't mind the slow-motion footage. Take heed of the results, using Unreal Tournament III, which in this case show that the time between button press and on-screen action was around 150ms. That may sound like a lot, but it's typical of the kind of delays you'll face playing any kind of networked game, whether online or even locally.

Other games tested included Dirt 2 and Assassin's Creed II, with both of those games recording lag of around 150-216ms. While this is far from ideal, since it's still slower than you'd experience using a locally-based product (as in, a disc spinning in a console or a game installed on a hard drive), considering the nature and benefits of OnLive, they're more than acceptable.

It's worth noting, however, that the results were far slower than those originally promised by OnLive, who reckoned lag would only be between 35-80ms, proving perhaps that conditions in the real world are never as ideal as those in a testing environment.

OnLive Latency: The Reckoning [DigitalFoundry @ Eurogamer]


    Anything multiplayer and/or competitive that is far too much. Especially when you add in the lag to the actual game server (probably another 30-50ms).

    Sounds fine for single player platformers and stuff. But I wouldn't want to play a shooter or anything twitch in those conditions.

    Its fine I guess, since this service isn't really aimed at "us".

    The key here is that the lag you suffer isn't network lag, which will just impact on the time it takes for a shot to register whilst your movements will still happen on your machine instantly, it's input lag which you will never normally experience on your local machine online or off, and which will be crippling to your performance when you play.

      Thats not correct Sam.

      On Live renders the image data on its remote service and delivers this data to your compputer as a video stream. If your connection to on-live is lagged then your game is going to suffer immensely. And to cap it off, in an on-line multiplayer match you will have the addditional lag of your hosted streaming sessions connection to the game server.

      This system is about as far away from ideal as you can get.

    (its performance will of course vary on your location and bandwidth)
    Which means it will likely never be available in Australia, unless they install local servers.

    Lets not forget the Onlive servers being overseas and we are in Australia.
    Add another 200ms to that time.

    Ok, thinking about it more. . .
    200-300ms is what players use to get on dial up playing on Australian servers. The difference being is when you click the fire button your on screen character would fire instantly. You would just have to lead your target to compensate for the lag.
    Whats important is when you react your screen character will react.

    Onlive, the lag is different. Pressing fire and then the lag until your screen character shoots? That will make the game feel sluggish and unresponsive.
    You will find yourself overstepping moves, overcompensating actions.
    Will feel terrible!

    This lag paired with their attempted culling of consoles and hard copy games just leaves me feeling cold and dead inside.. quite frankly it makes me feel ill... i don't like it at all...

    150ms for response from a mouse... that's in no way acceptable for any kind of reaction based gameplay lol. The concern of OnLive isnt the same as simple end user to server lag. It's a matter of how long it takes for your command to register on the screen. 150ms is an enormous amount of time to wait for something to happen after a key stroke or mouse click (if you've ever tried typing in something like a laggy Citrix session or thin client you will know what I mean).

    Oh and FYI local LAN games generally only cause ping response times of 5-10ms... not 150ms. Heck my ping in BFBC2 usually hovers around the 65-70ms mark when playing online, and again... no input lag.

    Oh god, now imagine this in Australia.

    Fail out of the box.

    I still can't help but feel that while On-Live is a good idea it's viability in Australia is always going to be incredibly low and so, for me, the interest is low.

    I don't understand how they can pitch a product where you still have to buy a box to plug into your TV, you still have to buy the games on top of paying a subscription but can ONLY play them while hooked up to the internet, and if you cancel your subscription you lose EVERYTHING.

    How is this even theoretically better than an Xbox?

    150ms? That's the video lag I measured our new TV to have with Guitar Hero World Tour, while it was set to a non-Game mode.

    Tried playing Strikers on Cube with some guys a little while before I actually tested it out, it made getting those uber shots with the timing bars impossible. I hate digital TVs.

    Obvious result is obvious.

    Everyone (IE: Real gamers) knew that online would be much too laggy to play. 150ms + server lag makes any game with an online component unplayable, and this is in IDEA conditions (IE: Not having your little brother downloading stuff while you try to play, not having your ISP spike out, not being in a shitty area, ie: Australia)

    Nothing to see here kids, move along

    im pretty sure that onlive never thought of rolling this out in Australia until the nbn is rolled out here if at all.

    due to onlive being too laggy this company should shut down

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