OnLive Coming To UK This Autumn

By Jim Rossignol on June 2nd, 2011 at 11:59 pm.


The Cloud-based streaming game service OnLive arrives on our shabby shores later this year, which is a great thing if your PC is rubbish but your internet connection is great, because it means you will be able to play a bunch of top-whack games for cheap(ish). The UK site will be open for “registering interest and gamertags from 8pm Tuesday next week”, according to the company. OnLive are also keen to stress that they will soon have 100 games on the service – with Red Faction: Armageddon being the 100th – and that they have new tech coming to complement the service. This tech is a controller that should work with any of the wide range of devices that OnLive can stream to. It is “a Wireless Controller that is as universal as the OnLive Game Service itself. The Controller not only works with OnLive’s own MicroConsole TV adapter, but works with almost any OnLive-compatible device.” This means you’ll be able to use their gamepad with a tablet, or even some stuff like certain Blu-Ray players. So that’s clever.

I’ve still not see this service running with my own eyes, but I am keen to try it out. We’ll take a proper look later this year.

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61 Comments »

  1. Mayjori says:

    in the words of you crazy over-sized-islanders, “Its rubbish”

  2. Rohow says:

    I tried it a few months ago after I had BT Infinity put in. It did not go very well for me.

    P’raps it will get better…

    • oliwarner says:

      *deleted by owner*

    • slight says:

      Its ability to work is completely dependent on your physical distance from the servers. There are other factors too but if you fail this one then no amount of bandwidth is going to save you, the physics doesn’t work. It can’t work well UK to US, it’s not possible to get low enough latency.

      Related: Most of the whines (not saying you’re whining) I’ve seen about it have been from people who failed to grasp this fundamental constraint, including that guy who played on a beta tester’s account from way outside range then proceeded to say it sucked, who got so much attention during the beta.

      Edit: Blog strips gt/lt

  3. Bobzer says:

    Don’t trust it, I like owning my games and running them myself.

    • Jumwa says:

      Likewise, but it’s more than that for me. I just have this deep mistrust of the idea, like it’s the forebear of bad tidings. I don’t know that it’s an entirely rational feeling, I just distrust the notion, and dislike how we’re more and more being expected to invest our money into things we no longer own in the end as we used to. Like there’s this ominous warning bell in my head saying the way things are headed with “gaming/software is a service, not a product” we’ll all end up being at their whims ultimately.

    • lurkalisk says:

      That distrust is good. If cloud gaming ever gets popular, things will get bad. Just imagine trying to play games in a world where no one actually owns any games and where every experience can be tightly controlled.

      If it does become popular, it has the potential to deal with a myriad of problems publishers face, and they’d definitely push the concept to such a conclusion. It won’t exactly be 1984, but it would suck.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      I wouldn’t buy a game on it, but the PlayPack is something else entirely, turning the service into a subscription-based model. Like streaming Netflix but for video games, so treating it as such isn’t nearly as objectionable in my eyes as paying for cloud-based games.

      Besides, the Onlive tech is seriously cool, provided your ISP can handle it properly.

    • Ludden says:

      I fear the consequences if this sort of thing were ever to become mainstream as well. If there’s little or no need for powerful local processing power anymore, then that’s a very strong lock-in for these services and the decentralized state and freedom we enjoy in PC gaming today could be in jeopardy. And it wouldn’t have to stop at games.

    • Mayjori says:

      not to mention the bandwidth usage, when more and more providers are starting to place caps on it

    • Tams80 says:

      If we disregard the control over content (yes, I know it is important), there is only really a problem if you ‘buy’ say a game, but it is stored and run in the cloud. Renting is fine; once you stop paying you don’t get the product anymore, but ‘buying’ virtual products is another thing.

  4. oliwarner says:

    Wake me up when there’s a Linux client.

  5. RetroVortex says:

    We don’t want it.

  6. PoulWrist says:

    Hm, I can use it here in Denmark, or I tried it at the office, on wireless. The 1280×720 image that all the games are set to, which you cannot change, but you can fiddle with other options apparently, for whatever reason, looked rather blurry scaled on to a 1920×1080 22″ monitor.
    Also visible was compression artifacts, and in general it didn’t really work when you were within a meter of that 22″ monitor. I guess on a smaller monitor, or one you sat a lot longer away from, it would do fine.
    Still, it’s a very far go from how running the game locally looks. Very.

    • ComradePenguin says:

      I assume you are, like me, using the US service though? So it’s far from ideal conditions and to be fair to them they do advise LAN rather than wireless. I too had little joy with the free copy of Amnesia. I doubt it’ll replace my main PC any time soon but for those that have laptops etc it could do. Plus it is coming to tablets http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/02/onlive-outs-universal-wireless-controller-seamless-facebook-int/ so it could make an interesting semi-portable solution for those that travel a lot.
      Did I dream it or did they not sign up some sort of exclusivity deal with BT at some point? Or was it just a deal to include it in some of their packages?

    • slight says:

      I believe they said it scales the compression according to network conditions in which case the low quality you saw might be that. Having said that, IIRC even people who were well within the official radius and had a nice fast connection found there was noticeable compression artefacts.

  7. T-Bone says:

    I’m in the UK, and I managed to play Amnesia: The Dark Descent using OnLive and I must say that I was impressed. Quite a bit of screen-tearing, but the potential is there.

  8. Freudian Slip says:

    Who in the UK actually has a legitimately decent UK internet connection though. I’ve had Virgin 50MB and it’s a load of arse.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Virgin is without a doubt the worst, most sluggish, most irritating broadband company I have so far experienced – and hell, those are some very crappy companies.

    • dsi1 says:

      Seriously, out of everything I’ve heard from the UK it sounds like the one place that a service that requires high speed, high stability, internet should /not/ serve.

      Besides the fact that it is impossible for it to feel ‘right’ in the first place…

  9. pakoito says:

    I tried it on my netbook and worked fine, given my line and distance to the servers it wasn’t playable but it was good enough to consider the service once it arrives to europe. And they fix the overprizes.

  10. SpinalJack says:

    I played a bunch of games on my macbook which I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise and it wasn’t bad. Anyone who bought the last humble indie bundle also got keys for onlive (which is how I got on it originally) and they’ve got that free demo period for games which makes trying it out pretty easy.

    Good alternative to renting games from blockbusters (if there was a place that rented PC games)

    I wouldn’t buy games on it but that’s what steam is for, I don’t see why you can’t live with both.

  11. wazups2x says:

    Why OnLive is terrible:

    1) INPUT LAG. And there’s no avoiding it, there will always be a delay on the internet.
    2) Low quality do to extreme compression.
    3) No mods
    4) No editing game configs
    5) No editing game period.
    6) Required internet connection to play
    7) Need to be close to a server and have a great internet
    8) It’s not guaranteed that you can play YOUR games after three years of being released.
    9) You don’t actually own the game.

    • disperse says:

      1) INPUT LAG. And there’s no avoiding it, there will always be a delay on the internet.
      True, but I find I adjust to it quickly. If you are the type of gamer who debates the relative merits of a Razer Mamba vs. the Logitech 4000 then OnLive isn’t for you.

      2) Low quality do to extreme compression.
      My laptop’s screen is only 1280×800 so this doesn’t bother me. If full-screen 720p YouTube videos bother you then OnLive will bother you too.

      3) No mods
      4) No editing game configs
      5) No editing game period.
      Yes, these are all valid points. I was sad that I couldn’t install the unbreakable grapple mod or extra ammo mods for Just Cause 2. On the plus side the games just work, no tinkering with configuration files necessary.

      6) Required internet connection to play
      7) Need to be close to a server and have a great internet
      If you don’t have good quality, always on Internet then OnLive is not an option.

      8) It’s not guaranteed that you can play YOUR games after three years of being released.
      9) You don’t actually own the game.
      Again, these are valid points. With my main PC being an old gaming laptop my options are either to use OnLive, buy a new gaming PC (not currently in the budget), or not play new games.

      I think it is a bit scary to think that new games could be released on a cloud service like OnLive simply for the uncrackable DRM. As long as they continue to release games through traditional channels as well it is simply a convenient way for me to enjoy the games now (instead of waiting until I can afford to upgrade my PC).

    • Scandalon says:

      Note: I’ve not given OnLive a single cent as of yet, have no connection to them and don’t have any plans to do so soon.

      I’m torn between giving you a well-reasoned response and just telling you to STFU and go acquire some critical thinking skills. (Or put your trolling skills to, er, good use?)

      Seriously, why do people have the need to slag off a new OPTION, because it has it’s own set of pros and cons, called TRADE-OFFS. If one or more of the cons is too much for you, fine, you’ve got plenty of the existing options to choose from. If I try batman on OnLive, (no download, no install, no driver updates, no config tweaking, on a 6 year old laptop) and decide to rent it for a few days, or decide to long-term rent it (for at least 3 years), or decide to buy it on Steam, or go to a shop and by a copy on disc, or decide to go for a walk, tell, please. WHY DO YOU CARE?

      Yes, you need a %*(@)! inet connection. It’s an online service. You need one for streaming netflix or hulu. Or to play multiplayer online games. You also need electricity, but you don’t see anyone decrying it as a requirement so you should all go back to playing boardgames. Also note that three or four of the items in your list are basically identical or inextricably linked to the fact that it’s ONLINE on the INTERNET.

      Guess what?

      I hear they’re going to start distributing software on optical discs! Can you believe it? It’s read-only! You can’t even re-use them like you can with floppies, and they can be scratched, too, since you have to take them out of their cases to use them. Other snake-oil salesmen are trying to put software on a spinning metal disk, calling it a “hard drive”, but it’s stuck inside your machine! You can’t even put it in your backpack and give it someone else! Even those silly optical disks can do that…

      Speaking of those optical disks, they’re going to put movies on them to watch at home. Watching at home is lame, because your screen and speakers aren’t anywhere near as good as at the cinema.

      To add insult to injury, some people are hatching an evil scheme called renting. You give them money, they give you the movie to watch, but after a certain amount of time, you have to give it back, and if you want to watch it again, you have to give them more money! It’s preposterous I tell you.

  12. Eraysor says:

    People are bashing it here, but I played the Red Faction: Armageddon demo on it and I was pretty impressed by the tech. I’d definitely imagine it as a console emulator than a fast-PC emulator though. Trying to play something fast like UT3 with a mouse on Onlive is pretty painful. I played RFA and Arkham Asylum using a 360 pad and it was excellent.

    • disperse says:

      Yeah, I wouldn’t try and play a competitive FPS through OnLive. Games that were originally designed for consoles and have auto-aim (Just Cause 2) or those which don’t have an emphasis on twitch combat (Alpha Protocol) work great.

    • Freud says:

      If it actually was a true console emulator, I’d be much more interested in it. There are quite a few Xbox/PS games I wouldn’t mind playing with this technology.

      As for playing PC games on my PC through the internet, I doubt I could stand it. Any kind of input lag has me quitting a game and looking through .ini files for a way to remove it.

  13. Delusibeta says:

    I’ve actually tried the US service, and it works surprisingly well. As in, it works, despite the Atlantic Ocean. I’d imagine the UK servers will eliminate points one and two in wazups2x’s complaint list.

    • wazups2x says:

      I live in the USA. Problem is there’s always a delay, even 50ms delay makes aiming sluggish when using a mouse. When using a controller it’s not near as noticeable since you’re not moving near as fast with DPI accuracy.

  14. 8-bit says:

    I don’t really like the way they do the pricing, but, its not a bad service if you just intend to rent a shortish game for a few days, or even to try out games that don’t have traditional demos elsewhere with the hour free play time.

    • disperse says:

      I believe it’s 30 minutes of free playtime. However, that’s 30 minutes with the full game, not a demo. Also, you don’t have to download a multi-gig installer to try a game you may or may not like.

    • 8-bit says:

      are you sure its only half an hour, I could have sworn the asscreed2 trial is an hour long. mind you its been a while since I used it so I could be wrong.

    • disperse says:

      I’m sure it was 30 minutes for Batman: Arkham Asylum because it was barely enough time to get through the opening exposition.

      However, there is no reason why they can’t change the time on a game for game basis.

  15. FLBR says:

    Does OnLive have any exclusive games? If it doesn’t, then I have no reason to use it at all.

  16. disperse says:

    I’m in the US here and I’ve used OnLive to play Amnesia: Dark Descent, Alpha Protocol, Just Cause 2, and Borderlands on my 3-year-old gaming laptop.

    My experience with the service has been very good. I’ve used it with two different broadband providers and have only had intermittent connection problems.

    The input lag doesn’t bother me at all when using a 360 controller (as I did for Alpha Protocol) and it’s noticeable but easy to adjust to when playing with mouse and keyboard (as I did for the rest). I think the input lag would bother me if I were trying to play a FPS competitively. For the games I’ve been playing, it’s fine.

    There is video compression but the graphics still look a million times better than the games would look if I tried to play them using my 8600M graphics card. If full-screen 720p YouTube videos look good enough to you, then it won’t bother you.

    My laptop has a tendency to heat up a lot when running games but stays nice and cool when running OnLive. I can even alt-tab away and multitask without any fear of my laptop locking up.

    The spectating system is neat and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It’s fun to browse around and see what other people are playing. Also, I found that I enjoy playing for an audience.

    If you already have a decent gaming PC or your broadband connection isn’t very good then OnLive is not for you. For my situation, it’s been perfect.

    I’m looking forward to playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution on OnLive this summer.

  17. Hatsworth says:

    Relinquishing all control is a bad idea even if it technically worked flawlessly with no delay, which is impossible in the first place.

  18. Joga5000 says:

    USian here – I’ve tried out OnLive for a bit, and while it is impressive that it actually does work – it has all the drawbacks that you think it would. The input lag is absolutely awful, though I’m sure using a 360 controller would mitigate that a bit. I played the FEAR 2 demo and the input lag combined with the heavy mouse acceleration made aiming practically impossible.
    The video quality isn’t terrible, like others have said, it’s comparable to a 720p Youtube video (maybe a little blockier at times), but if you’re used to crisply rendered 1920×1200 graphics then the transition can be a bit jarring, but you get used to it after a while.
    Actually buying a game on the service would be silly – I only use it ’cause I got Amnesia free a while back. Though it is really cool that you can play 30-minute timed demos of any game available, which is nice for trying out games you wouldn’t normally try or that don’t have proper demos. You can also jump in and spectate anyone playing any game, which is cool in a voyeuristic sort of way. If you enjoy watching game playthroughs on Youtube then you’ll definitely love this.

  19. Tonamel says:

    I’m subscribed to the PlayPack (I agree that buying games on OnLive is silly, but the playpack is more like streaming Netflix), and the lag isn’t too terrible, but it can ruin some games. I played through PoP 2008 and FEAR 2 with no problems, but the faster paced shooting in NecroVision was completely untenable. On the other hand, Borderlands has been just fine.

  20. ChainsawCharlie says:

    Would be interested in this, but not with the godawful BT lines I got now.

  21. Tei says:

    Well, this is good news. I tried the service from spain, from a good conection, and it don’t even connected. I don’t plan to use the service to play full games, but seems a good piece of technology to play demos. If I find a console game that is fun to play, I may buy the real console and play there :D

    If add a iPad client, I may even play some strategy games. Probably a touch interface is highly latency tolerant.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      You couldn’t be more wrong with that last suggestion, Tei. The UI on the iPad is highly responsive at almost all times, providing immediate feedback as you touch the screen. This is the primary reason why the iPad feels as fast as it does, despite actually being a pretty slow piece of hardware. And the worst apps on it are not those that are ugly, but those that sacrifice that responsiveness, breaking the illusion that you’re interacting with actual objects on the screen.

  22. cliffski says:

    I prefer to think that I can play games without banning everyone else in the house from using the net at the same time.
    Games publishers LOVE the idea of this, in the way that movie studios LOVE 3D. Always remember who has something to gain from promoting this. It’s not really the end user.
    And playing at 1280×1024? seriously? Is this 2003?

  23. Dyst says:

    I recently got an internet upgrade that made OnLive playable on my netbook (I live in the UK) and I was really impressed. I can’t see it being useful for most RPS readers who have a decent computer than can play modern games, but my computers tend to explode and it seems to be good for when I don’t have access to it.

    RF:G was perfectly playable lag wise, although I did notice a few minor frame rate issues which was odd. Pretty excited for the servers to be in the UK.

  24. Optimaximal says:

    That’s pretty much confirmation it’ll be at least a USB device with one of those micro-dongles (do Blu-Ray players have Bluetooth?).

  25. MattM says:

    Even if you can design a game that is playable with the large amount of input lag it is still annoying. The slow mouse movements, constantly feeling like you are stuck in molasses. It is just a deal-breaker for me for full games. It might work as an easy way to try out demos.

  26. dangermouse76 says:

    I live in Edinburgh and tried to connect with my virgin 10mg connection to onlive about 4 months ago. Onlive said it shouldn’t work but give it a go.

    I tried to connect 3 times on the third…bingo. My account in America got registered. So I played a few demos and I have to say that the service although not for me at the moment ( I think the pricing structure needs to come down a little ) worked quite well.

    At my distance from the server there was some slow down and texture blocking but it was good enough for me to get an image of what the service was like.

    I played Mafia 2 mostly, not converted by a long shot but it was interesting to try.

  27. gorgol says:

    comment test.

    also outrage.

  28. The Sombrero Kid says:

    The biggest problem facing onlive is that we don’t need them to do it for us, we’ve got computers & they are now and always will be cheaper.

    • dangermouse76 says:

      Just out of interest what economic model are you basing this on. I would think buying cheap dumb terminals and having the backend run by another company that is getting economy of scale out of running it’s own servers would be cheaper than a gaming rig.

      The argument seems to me to be: say you use onlive for ten years, does the amount of money in rental and purchasing cost equate to a solid home PC experience.

      This leaves out all the arguments about ownership of the game plus whether it is running without latency and at a decent frame-rate and resolution.

      But what for you makes it cheaper running it from a home PC ?
      I have made no decision on this myself just after your thoughts.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      I agree that if onlive could achieve an economy of scale they would be able to make it cheaper, the problem is they can’t the set up has went from gaming pc to gaming pc + high speed network + dumb terminal, it’s unlikely they can ever make these new additions cost less than the savings from having less actual machines than the theoretical maximum demand.

      so in short unless they develop graphics processing technology that can run multiple games simultaneously unmodified, they will never be able to make it cheaper.

      it’s important to remember that the internet consists of a hell of a lot of data centres, because they scale economically, but there literally is no such thing as a processing centre & that is in effect what onlive are trying to achieve & to do it with the most processing heavy applications we have.

    • dangermouse76 says:

      I get you there mate. When I used the service ( limited as it was here in Scotland ) it felt more like the game was being waved in front of my face rather than actually having it, owning it and running it.

      It felt flimsy in a way I cant properly describe.

  29. Robin says:

    So another announcement from OnLive trying to distract attention from the fact that they’re offering something no-one wants and that technically fails to live up to their ridiculous early claims.

    There is a place for brute-force cloud gaming and Gaikai understands where it is. Demos. Public betas. Retro games. Free to play casual games where the inescapable problems of lag and poor image quality matter less.

    OnLive just hold a bunch of patents and a naive, outdated belief that PC gamers were going to upgrade their GPUs every year in perpetuity.

    If you want to ‘rent’ a blocky stream of a game running on a remote mid-range machine, using a cheap joypad, with no ability to configure the game or use mods or third party content, you are doing PC games wrong.

    @OnLive Defence Force: Welcome to RPS! People here have been playing PC games and thinking critically for longer than five minutes so your ridiculous faulty analogies won’t work here, sorry. We will slag off OnLive because it’s always technically and commercially the worst option available, being marketed misleadingly to people who don’t know any better. Bad (inelegant, inappropriately applied) technology deserves to fail.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      You know, OnLive is actually doing very well in terms of revenue and userbase, and are continuously picking up new publishers and have even manged to snag an exclusive demo of sorts.

      But hey, don’t let facts get in your way of your spew of irrational hatred. If only all of the founders and programmers would’ve listened to you, a nondescript, disposable RPS commenter by day but a psychic supergenius by night who is instantly able to determine the fate and validity of all technology with a simple wave of the hand. If only they had listened to you they would’ve fully avoided this catastrophic disaster (which is nonexistent) developing technology that is unequivocally dead (which is false).

      Perhaps you can enlighten us further and tell us what other technologies and services are automatically inert by your arbitrary measures? Perhaps write a book or get your own TV program, something to validate your claims to fully unshackle your unparalleled foresight. Something that tells me you’re more than just a random internet troll deciding to shred on an infant technology out of a horrendously misguided sense of what is “good”.

  30. StThomasDeSpade says:

    I used it recently in the R.O.I. and it was great.
    It just needs more games and it looks like it’s happening.
    A great day for ubiquitous gaming but maybe a sad day for modding.

    • hungrytales says:

      Well, there’s no modding possible now. But is it really so ramrod-rigidly certain it is not going to be possible in the foreseeable future?

  31. Carra says:

    The beta will be available soon in Belgium.

    But I won’t use it. I’m already using up my 50 gb a month limit as it is. Let alone that I can stream an hour a day.

  32. Tams80 says:

    Cap reached in 3…2..

    • Lucretious says:

      Here’s my piece:

      Yesterday I subscribed to OnLive. I’m a university student working as a janitor full time in the summer; needless to say, I’m not wealthy. My computer reflects this: I have an HP laptop that can’t run any games from post-2003(not even Beyond Good and Evil works on my machine). And I can’t really afford new hardware.

      Firing up OnLive and seeing recent games run beautifully–at least to me–on my crappy laptop has been a great feeling. Before playing this, I had been playing and replaying games like Deus Ex and Escape Velocity: Nova. That’s all changed, and it feels nice. I subscribed to the playpack, which is a bunch of games for 9.99 a month. I also pre-ordered Deus Ex:HR because I love DX and it comes with the console for free.

      So for a person that already has a good gaming machine, I think this service is pretty worthless. But there are a whole bunch of us out there who love games but can’t play new ones–OnLive is pretty cool for that.

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