OnLive’s UK Pricing And… It’s Here. Maybe.

By Jim Rossignol on September 22nd, 2011 at 11:26 am.


Cloud-based (that means it streams to your “device” from the internets, rather than being rendered by local hardware) gaming service OnLive is launching in the UK… now! You can sign up on the site and begin streaming games within a couple of minutes, apparently. The games on offer cost between £1.99 and £39.99, and the “micro-console” which allows you to stream to TVs is £69.99. I am just logging in now and will post some thoughts in a bit.

(Launcher hanging… Hmm. Maybe later then.)

, .

86 Comments »

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  1. povu says:

    (Launcher hanging… Hmm.)

    Aaaand we’re off to a good start!

  2. John Connor says:

    Online is like a game experience destroying, DRM wet dream. I wish it would die already.

    • Yor Fizzlebeef says:

      Surely you meant to spell Onlive?
      Otherwise you must be smack dab in some irksome existential crisis, what with your continuous online posting and whatnot…

      /spellingnazi

    • Bhaumat says:

      I agree with this for single player and small multiplayer based gaming. There’s no benefit to the service. It’s like renting a game but with added lag and DRM.
      The only benefit is streaming games your computer can’t handle, but when you considering that the higher spec the game the harder it is to stream from cloud and the need for decent internet, the concept becomes nonsensical.

      However, for MMOs or match-based multiplayer, it’s a fantastic technology. When you pay for an MMO you’re paying for access to a service they’re running, using the client application they provide (the exception being private servers, of course). Cloud based systems are more efficient (a persistent world shared by many players rather than many separate instances) and get around a whole plethora of synchronisation and cheating problems inherent in the client application model.

      So yeah. I sort of hope it dies, myself. But I also hope the technology gets picked up elsewhere where it might actually be beneficial.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      John Conner, you may have a point if games were exclusive to onlive, but surely more choice in how we get games is better? Why wish this dead when it may be just right for some people?

      And Bhaumat – Bandwidth for streaming is not affected by the graphical intensity (or processor intensity) of the game – if you can stream minecraft at 60fps 1024×768, you can also stream Crysis maxed out at the same fps and resolution. They may have server side processing limitations, but given this is surely one of their big selling points, I doubt it.

    • Bull0 says:

      It’s great if you don’t own a gaming PC, or for lunchbreak gaming. As such it’s not really for you. There’s also merit to being able to jump straight in and try something without downloading and installing it. Thank god nobody’s forcing you to use it, though.

    • John Connor says:

      I don’t think you kids understand. This needs to die so that companies like Ubisoft don’t get any stupid ideas. If you want to play a game on your tablet you’ve got Angry Birds, if you want to play real games, but you’re too cheap to stick a video card in your HP greybox, get a PSP or an Xbox. The only advantage of this service is that the jerkoff publishers can control who, what, where, when and for how long you can play the games you fucking buy – it needs to go away.

    • Bhaumat says:

      @Sheng-ji Apologies, I meant server-side load of running many instances of a game. And many instances of the rendering engines no less, given that scene rendering tends to be the bottle-neck in 3d games. Admittedly they’re going to have the machine power to do so or they wouldn’t be selling the service, but what I was thinking is that anyone who has the connectivity to stream relatively lag-free 720p video probably has the computing power to run the game themselves higher than that.
      As Bull0 implies though, there are good applications for away-from-home gaming where you don’t have the power or the system access but do have the connectivity.

    • Bull0 says:

      @John Connor In so much as you have to pay for the game, and then you can play it?

      I think Ubisoft may have already had that idea.

      Also: Come with me if you want to live.

    • johnpeat says:

      If that’s the real John Connor – we’re all fucked…

      Because killing an idea will stop other people using it – clearly…

    • grundus says:

      Yeah, rip.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Or maybe it’s a very clever service that isn’t meant for you. Maybe the universe doesn’t revolve around you and everything is out to get you, or ruin everything. I know it’s fantastic on a netbook for example.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Wishing an ambitious startup company to crash and fail because you personally don’t want a different company with a horrible reputation among PC gamers to “get any ideas”?

      You sir, are the walking definition of “selfish”.

  3. benjymous says:

    I don’t even get any sign of a launcher, or any messages explaining what I’m supposed to do. Very confusing.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It emails you a link to this page: http://www.onlive.co.uk/games to download the launcher.

    • benjymous says:

      @Jim, yes, I’ve been to that page. It says “Get ready to play instantly!” and gives me options to edit my profile, and link with facebook, but nothing to install anything, and no obvious errors or links that might put me in the right direction :-\

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      Clearly you aren’t ready enough. Re-examine your sense of preparedness.

  4. Dana says:

    Seems region blocked, I cant add my credit card. I wanted to buy a game in a “First title for 1 quid” promotion.

  5. Snack says:

    The pinnacle of DRM? Also, isn’t this bound to be a lagfest? I say no thanks.

    • deanb says:

      Lag isn’t actually bad. At least when I had a spin with it when it was US only. I imagine it’ll be even better when based in UK. And yes it’s the ultimate form of DRM. However as a really great side effect it’s the best damn (legit) demo tool I’ve seen. So just demoing games it’s worth signing up.

    • MattM says:

      I tried playing borderlands a couple of time on the service, despite the companies claims to the contrary the lag was significant and infuriating. It was enough to turn every attempt to aim into a two step process. One move to aim and a second to correct for the overshoot.

  6. Inigo says:

    The tachyons need to warm up first.

  7. deanb says:

    I got signed up this morning for the “First games a pound” (good selection too). Had to make a new account though since it seems I made one a while back to give it a spin and now it thinks I’m American.

    Streamed Space Marine worth a quid?

    • awwells says:

      does the 1 pound promotion extend to Deus Ex – Mac gamer here and this could be my chance to play.

    • johnpeat says:

      Yes, DXHR is included in the £1 deal

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      A mac version of dxhr is on it’s way though.

    • deanb says:

      Yeah Deus Ex is on there. It’s a good selection for launching. I was expecting older titles, but stuff as new as Human Revolution and Space Marine going for a quid was a surprise. Pleasant surprise. The best kind of surprise.

      And it’s also awesome that it is a great leveller on the PC in that you can play games alongside fellow Windows users and without having to worry about if it’s Cider (or Cidre if you’re up for that)

    • Tams80 says:

      Not the Cidre! It explodes!

  8. Premium User Badge

    thestjohn says:

    It works… surprisingly well, considering I’m using a rural ADSL Max connection. I mean, it doesn’t look too pretty but it seems possible to play without a game killing level of lag or macro-blocking. Would be interested to try it on a better connection, but for now got the £1 game offer and see how it fares. Eats into my download quota like a very hungry thing though.

  9. Jazz42 says:

    I streamed a bit of Red Faction Armageddon this morning after signing up. Even though I apparently have a 50mbs fibre cable connection here, due to the amount of other people in the house online and the shitty connection I have (ethernet via a powerplug thingy as wireless doesn’t work in my room) it only just about works. When it does work it’s rather wonderful, when it doesn’t…not so much.
    Of course everyone else in the house has much better connections than me..which is typical.

    • johnpeat says:

      What sort of hardware are you sharing the connection with?

      If you have a half-decent router at the core of it, you can enable a variety of things to prioritise traffic.

      If you’ve not done that, you’re taking part in a shitty lottery for bandwidth – one which no-one really wins…

    • Jazz42 says:

      Alas not my house and therefore not my call.
      I just rent a room here in hell…

  10. godgoo says:

    I used it back in August(!) (UK)… Played the timed demo’s of ‘Shaun White Uber-Rad Sk8er Boi 2011′ or whatever, which worked quite well what with being 3rd person. It was when I tried the demo of FthreeAR that I saw the limitations of the platform at this stage. After 10 minutes I had developed a headache from squinting at the blurry brown mass of streaming pixels, trying to spot the peeking heads of my enemies.

    Notsogood.

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      Yeah this is one of the two problems with this in my opinion. (The other being input lag. Suspect it’s not as big a problem in turn based strategy, puzzles and whatnot, but disastrous in action games.) It looks shitty not in the way a game looks shitty when you have all the settings to low, but like like lo-fi video streaming. A real strain on the eyes really. I would prefer even lower graphic settings in the game and high resolution streaming, if that’s possible.

    • johnpeat says:

      It’s a lot better than I expected BUT it’s not brilliant…

      Run the Onlive Client windowed and then change your desktop res to get the lower res thing working tho – it does seem a LITTLE easier on the eye if you have a mahoosive monitor…

  11. yhalothar says:

    Onlive is like playing a medium-quality 720p YouTube video while drunk.

    • johnpeat says:

      You’ve clearly never been drunk – probably because drunkness does not have a FRAPS overlay :)

    • Jazz42 says:

      SNAP!
      That’s exactly how i found it. Well said sir.

  12. abigbat says:

    I was impressed by how well it runs, definitely worth a shot for users with older rigs/smaller monitors. Sadly it doesn’t hold up as well on a decent monitor (that 720p resolution is pretty blurry).

    • johnpeat says:

      Given the number of people I’ve met who can’t even get their PC working at the native resolution of their monitor – I doubt that’s going to be a stumbling block for many people…

  13. johnpeat says:

    Well I signed-up, downloaded the client and was playing Space Marine inside 2 mins of starting – and DXHR shortly thereafter – that’s not actually unimpressive, really.

    It didn’t look amazing, but it worked and the latency wasn’t an issue for single-player (it’s inability to ignore my 360 pad until I unplugged it was more annoying but that’s Space Marine and not Onlive).

    I’ve heard all the downsides but there are upsides too – not the least of which is the potential for a decent rental model (only limited titles have this) and the ability of offer a demo for every game (they don’t do this but obviously we’re not tied into the developer making a demo to enable it).

    Their PlayPack idea – unlimited play of 100+ games for £7 a month – is probably a better deal than the way I picked-up most of them from Steam sales :)

    There’s clearly a market for this – it’s just not with the FPS, Ping and ownership obsessed PC gamer crowd – but if it brings in more PC gamers/gamers in general tho, where’s the harm?

    • CMaster says:

      The harm is if/when developers decide that OnLive (and services like it) are the only way to distribute games. That would be a huge loss for gamers. In the meantime though, it certainly has its potential uses.

    • johnpeat says:

      Take your tin-foil hat off – no developers are going to lock their games into OnLive unless they’re bloody sure their game will sell well there (to the exclusion of everywhere else which seems unlikely in the short term.

      EA are invested into Origin now – Ubisoft will surely follow by expanding Uplay, Blizzard are set on us all being Battlenet citizens, Valve have Steam, Paradox have GamersGate and so on.

      Competition is where the money is and keeps things sensible – I’ll worry when it starts to disappear perhaps…

    • Bull0 says:

      I’m with johnpeat. This assertion that if OnLive is anything other than a spectacular failure the publishers are going to flock to it and forsake Steam is really quite amazing

    • CMaster says:

      @JohnPeat

      Tinfoil hat? No, I don’t think Onlive is a conspiracy against gamers, I think they’re just a company that have seen an opportunity and are trying to deliver on it. If anything, I think they risk if they are successful, being edged out by publishers who figure they can do it themselves.

      Your point about Origin and Battlenet only strengthens what I’m saying though. Battlenet already is used to prevent modding and to run some of the game code remotely, to lock down Blizzard’s control over the game. Origin is just a content delivery system for now, but it could in the future be turned into a remote gaming system.

      Why would they do this? No piracy. No modding, which while it can pay dividends if you invest in it from the start, it can also cause a lot of trouble and expense for the publisher. The ability to charge subscriptions for everything, to have the shops in singleplayer games charge real, not game money. Rather than simply shutting off the servers for FIFA2010 about now, they’ll shut off the game entirely (and you thought the Steam Subscriber Agreement was draconian) Do I think that this is the destined future point of the industry? Far from it. Do I think that trying to pull all the stuff described above at once would be a PR disaster? Of course. Do I think it’s something I don’t want to see happen to gaming? Quite.

      Oh, and a few other, not-intended-by-the-company downsides: Not being able to play the game you want at peak times (welcome to WoW style queues for Elder Scrolls VII). No games while you wait for your ISP to sort you out after moving house. Fidelity drops at peak times. And of course, permanent control latency.

      Maybe all those things will be enough to see that remote-only gaming never happens. At the moment I’d only give it low odds – but it’s still something none of us should want.

      Edit: Oh and I’m not implying any of this means you should avoid OnLive now. Just saying I hope it stays niche.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Well I don’t. So… Nyah!

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      @CMaster:

      By “tinfoil hat”, he’s talking about your wild scenario of developers locking down their method of distribution through only one channel. This isn’t happening anywhere, even on the walled garden that is consoles.

      Developers aren’t even using Steam as the “only way to distribute games”. What drugs are you taking that make you fear OnLive getting that exclusivity at any point in the future, near or distant?

  14. AlonePlusEasyTarget says:

    Surely this is a restriction more than convenient. No mod tools, constantly online, only suitable for unlimited bandwith etc.

    The only good thing is we can easily demo any game we want.

    • johnpeat says:

      It also allows people to play who’s PC would never, in a month of sundays, manage the game otherwise (netbooks, laptops, older desktops, mediacentre PCs etc. etc. etc.)

      That’s a pretty major plus for people who own those, I imagine.

    • DrGonzo says:

      It’s like banging your head against a brick wall. It’s hard to get through to them that other people are in different circumstances.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The circumstance where you cannot play games because of weak hardware is evaporating. Even Intel integrated graphics are reasonably capable these days.

  15. cheesetruncheon says:

    I thought this would be a good demo tool.

    I installed the client then it told me my internet speed wasn’t sufficient.

    meh, no skin off my back.

    • johnpeat says:

      What sort of speed to do have (really have, not what your ISP lies about??)

      What sort of speed does speedtest.net give you??

    • former nigerian says:

      Same, using speednet I get 1.82mb/s down. Oh well, I’ve already uninstalled it.

    • johnpeat says:

      You really need to be seeing 3-4Mb down speed for this to work – and even if you have that, there are latency needs which some ISPs will simply not be able to provide…

      I thought OnLive were partnering with BT to provide a low-lat, unlimited service ideal for this (not that you’d take Broadband from BT!!) ??

    • DrGonzo says:

      I have a 10 meg connection from Virgin Media. That gives me 1.2mbs download speeds. Runs this absolutely fine.

    • Werthead says:

      Same here. 10mb service with Virgin and it runs absolutely fine. I don’t use a router though, and just have my PC plugged straight into the broadband. My house is also pretty close to the exchange.

      Having pumped 5 hours into SPACE MARINE, I can say that the service is excellent. No discernible lag whatsoever and the graphics look great. Not as fantastic as running it at 1900+ resolution on a state-of-the-art graphics card of course, but very nice and very playable. And better than the alternative open to me (since my PC is 5 years old and single core, the alternative is not playing it at all).

      Assuming you have a good internet connection, essentially OnLive turns the crappiest old PCs, all Apple Macs and even tablets into viable gaming devices. The potential is pretty huge, even moreso if they roll it out in a country with state-of-the-art modern broadband (like South Korea).

  16. bit_crusherrr says:

    I tried UT3 and while it played really well it looked worse than a console. However I can see OnLive being useful for the 30 min trials, considering most games these days don’t supply demos.

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      I usually use the trials and demos to find out if my PC can run the game, but I guess it could still be useful for demo purposes to find out about gameplay etc.

  17. mcol says:

    Signed up and played tropico 4 in less than a minute on my venerable old tosh portege r500, I was actually very impressed, so tried another demo (space marines), same thing. Given I am supposed to be working though, this could be a bad thing.

    I don’t think I’d like to be playing bleeding edge shooters on a laptop though, but would love to see something like Shogun running on this little laptop.

  18. idespair says:

    BT broadband customers can get three months of the subscription service for free, which has the neat side effect of giving you 30% off all purchases. Including that first game for £1 offer. Space Marine or Deus Ex 3 for 70p isn’t bad, to be honest.

  19. Surgeon says:

    Down with this sort of thing!

  20. Jorum says:

    As someone who gets regularly evicted from my desktop PC by the kids, being able to play high-spec titles on my laptop may be appealing.

  21. thenagus says:

    I played the Borderlands free trial. Surprised at

    A) How smooth/playable/unlaggy it was. (Though I’m not a pro FPS-er, by any means.)

    B)How abysmal it looked. Perhaps I just have a slow connection, but it looked significantly worse than a you tube video. Worse than a TV, even. Why boast that it can play any game on max settings, when everything gets blurred out so much? I was struggling to read text.

  22. Jamesworkshop says:

    it’s an interesting service to be sure, I think its still early days to run something like this today, but that will rapidly change, 5 years ago there was a ton of things I couldn’t not use the internet for on a realistic time scale, especialy the streaming of audio/visual media content.

    Nowadays I consider less than 1080p video content to not even being a suitable use of time watching, not many years ago I would seek to avoid high quality so I could actually watch more than one video a day, I certainly wouldn’t ever consider streaming to be viable action, and yet today I forgo TV entirely and stream everything online now, which really not that long ago would have been impossible.

  23. ZIGS says:

    Can you sign up if you live in other parts of Europe?

    • testman3 says:

      I could create an account and login, and I’m from the Netherlands.
      Don’t know if it will work in other countries though.

    • Tusque D'Ivoire says:

      I do have an account and plenty of Humble Indie Bundle games to try out, but somehow the client won’t even start and just gives me a win32 compatibility issue right away, about which i found no information in the all-knowing interwebs. I’m sitting in germany.

  24. Ginger Yellow says:

    I take it they haven’t implemented iOS/Android support yet? Because that might be worth it, if they don’t screw up the controls. That said, I’m not sure how often I’d be in a place that’s not my flat with fast enough internet for it to work.

    • johnpeat says:

      I just don’t see the point of doing that at all.

      It’s bad enough that developers try to cram games which need controls a phone cannot provide (onscreen joysticks are Satan’s Stinky Spunk) – trying to make PC games work on a phone is a barking mad idea at best…

      There are maybe a handful of games in their 100+ game roster which MIGHT work on a phone, maybe, perhaps – it’s hardly worth the effort…

      Then there’s the speed issue – put simply, almost NO-ONE is getting 3G at the sort of speeds this requires (3-4Gb download) even those who might see decent numbers, don’t see consistent decent numbers and/or a matching ping…

  25. Khemm says:

    This thing needs to flop. It needs to. I don’t want the future of gaming to be cloud-based. We can play games that are over 20 years old because they could reside on people’s hard drives.

    • Werthead says:

      I wonder if say GoG could implement something similar. Getting some older games running can be a bit of a headache, or require totally reprogramming an old gamer’s launcher and still face incompatibility problems with newer hardware (the GoG version of Dungeon Keeper 2 has some problems, apparently, despite being officially updated to work on W7). With this they – or another service – just need to get the game running on their main service machine and everyone can play at will.

      It shouldn’t replace downloads or retail, but it could be a highly useful alternative.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Ah yes, we certainly need more people to perpetuate the notion that gamers are selfish, whiny squeakers.

      Not sure how anybody can wish death on a tiny startup and kick all its employees to the curb simply because you personally don’t like the idea of cloud gaming. Not to mention the fact plenty of people could use this and have a better time than trying to get anything to run on their old/incapable hardware.

      No, let’s tear down entire companies because some bloke on RPS wishes it gone. Anything else the world might do for your liking, Your Highness?

  26. Shooop says:

    I can’t see this going anywhere good.

    It’s a nice idea in theory to no longer have your hardware be a bottleneck which can be great for some folks who lack the spare change for new parts, but now the bottleneck is your internet service.

    And what happens when you inevitably experience connectivity issues? Diablo 3 is already showing us why this is a bad idea.

    When the day comes where terabyte-per-second internet is available everywhere cheaply and has a .0001% failure rate this will be great. Right now, not so much.

  27. henben says:

    I’ve had an OnLive account for months and I’m in the UK. Am I in some kind of regional beta, or is their geoblocking ineffective, or what? From my perspective, this UK “launch” just means that I can pay them in GBP rather than USD. And get their mini-console in GAME, I suppose.

    I’ve never actually bought anything from them, but the technology is quite impressive – I only have a crappy little netbook which can barely play any PC games, but if I plug it into an external monitor, it works fine with OnLive.

    Fast action games like Metro 2033 aren’t really enjoyable, because you can sense the lag, but I did enjoy the Alpha Protocol demo. Based on my experiences so far, I’d use it to play strategy/RPG games that don’t have a huge twitch element and don’t need you to be pixel perfect – but maybe the UK launch means they are going to add more local servers and bring down the lag.

    If you try it, make sure you’re using a wired Internet connection. Wireless is either laggy or it doesn’t work.

  28. Premium User Badge

    Man Raised by Puffins says:

    Well it works, a touch laggy and low detail, but it works. I can see myself using it to give demo-less games a trial run, but not much beyond that (particularly given that my trial run of Borderlands conked out after 20 minutes with a network error).

  29. Tams80 says:

    “…to access a huge selection of amazing games such as Homefront…” suuuuuurree.

    “Experience instant gaming; any time, anywhere.” No.

    Otherwise: why not? O what’s that university? You’ve blocked the required ports? FFFFFUUUUUU!!!

  30. rocketman71 says:

    Using Steam is already giving up too much control over my (?) games,except that they give me things in return to make up for it.

    Onlive is way, way over the top there, and the only return is a very slight discount, and the fact that I don’t have to buy the hardware (which is not so expensive nowadays). Plus lag. And many other disadvantages.

    Thanks, but no thanks, and I hope that it dies a prompt and deserved death.

  31. PFCskinner says:

    The 70 quid console is available for free at Eurogamer Expo, so if your thinking of getting one head down to Earls Court and nab one before its over!

  32. bill says:

    Onlive seems like the antithesis of No Oceans, as they need to specifically set up servers and deals with ISPs in every single country.

    Which means, like spotify and iplayer and half the other cool “online” services that are out there, I can’t use it. If only we had some kind of international communications network that would allow us to communicate globally!!

    (Hulu did just launch here though (and only here), but at double the price of the states).

  33. Lamellama says:

    I hope this takes off so USPs have more reason to improve speed of their connections.

  34. Ovno says:

    Just tried a bit of space marine & dawn of war through it…

    Ran quite well, not laggy at all, but the video quality although not that bad was really hurting my eyes, pity with the 30min demos of all games and £1 for your first game I would’ve certainly considered using it at times, maybe even as a way to not have to install origin.