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OnLive Game System puts high-end games on TV for $99

The on-demand streaming gaming service OnLive is entering the hardware market, announcing its new OnLive Game System, consisting of a wireless game controller and the OnLive MicroConsole TV Adapter that enables games to put any game available via the OnLive service on their living room TV. And the system is available now for pre-order for just $99.

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“The OnLive Game System marks the start of a new era for video games and home entertainment,” said OnLive founder and CEO Steve Perlman, in a statement. “Not only is the OnLive Game System the fastest, simplest way to play, watch and test-drive top-tier games instantly on the living room big screen, it also opens the door to a new world of options for gaming and entertainment—from media-rich social networking and massive spectating to game portability across TV, PC, Mac, and mobile devices.”

OnLive has garnered attention for its on-demand, cloud-based gaming service that enables users to stream high-end, new-release games to their home computers—and, so long as they have bandwidth, those computers can be weaklings compared to the high-end gaming rigs serious gamers use to dominate multiplayer games.

The OnLive MicroConsole has been in the works for some time: about the size of an Ethernet hub, the MicroConsole connects to a user’s existing home broadband connection (via Ethernet, although bridges to Wi-Fi and other networking technologies are available) and a television, enabling users to play current title video games in high-definition. Of course, users still need to pay for the games they’ll be playing, although OnLive eliminated their pro-forma subscription fee last month. users can typically rent games for a few days for prices ranging from $5 to $10, while full titles cost up to about $50. Users can also sample any game for up to 30 minutes for free. The OnLive MicroConsole offers HDMI output and a stereo minijack output, and can support up to four controllers, including OnLive’s own wireless controllers or USB Xinput controllers. Users can also pop on USB keyboards and hubs, and OnLive says support for Bluetooth and PC-compatible USB headsets is “coming soon.”

As with the regular OnLive gaming service, the bandwidth requirements for OnLive gaming are not insubstantial: if you’ve got a 40-inch or larger TV, you’ll want to be able to give OnLive at least 5 Mbps of consistent bandwidth, although that can drop to 3 Mbps for 30-inch and smaller TVs.

The OnLive Game System is available for pre-order now for $99 and will be available in “limited quantities;” the company expects to start shipping units December 2, 2010. Purchase includes access to a single OnLive game of the customer’s choosing; OnLive says more than 35 titles will be available at launch, including Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition, Just Cause 2, Mafia ll, NBA 2K11, and Shaun White Skateboarding.

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