OnLive Is Okay

By Alec Meer on September 26th, 2011 at 4:25 pm.

Also good for performance art in front of an amazed/disgusted crowd

Last week, cloud gaming service OnLive launched in the UK. Americans have had it for a while now, and doubtless thus look down on us as some kind of addled-brained backwater cavemen who’ve only just discovered fire, but for this small and governmentally-besieged isle having local services for this ambitious technology could be a game-changer. Or maybe not. Everyone who’s used it has something to say about it, and very often that’s ‘it kind of works but it looks rubbish on my PC.’ I would say the same thing – full-screen play on my 1920×1200 monitor looks like someone threw grey jelly at my screen and like everyone in the game is melting into the scenery. In windowed mode, I can play for a bit without being too bothered, but if I want OnLive to use more than 25% of my monitor I give up within five minutes.

Then I tried out the Micro-console thing they’ve started giving out/selling over here and my tune changed almost immediately.

Here’s the thing: playing games on a PC, I’m sat there with my face stuffed right up against my monitor, at the kind of proximity I would only otherwise have with a lover, and I’m both accustomed to and expecting a crisp, clear picture. On a console, I’m sat a few feet back on a sofa, and I’m accustomed to blurry edges and fuzzy detail, even at the current gen-standard 720p. On the OnLive thinger, I’m being streamed an image of a PC gaming playing at high res with all bells and whistles turned on, including nerdtastic but genuinely splendid features such as anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering. It doesn’t suffer from the handicaps that (the vast majority) of console games suffer from. But it does suffer from the kind of loss of detail, especially during busy of fast-moving scenes, that you’d expect from a streaming video – and to be honest often more so, as it’s also streaming God knows what other information necessary to make the whole shebang interactive back and forth.

Combined with being sat back at a distance and thus losing scads of fine-detail that way, the net result is that the compromises of OnLive sort of cancel out the compromises of console gaming – and the resultant average image isn’t dramatically inferior to simply playing on an Xbox 360 or PS3. It is inferior, but not to the point where I’m bothered after the first few minutes.

DXHR as it appears in full-screen on my PC - this is a cropped rather than resized image

Obviously, if you’re actively looking for shortfalls they are very much there and you’re going to see them, but if you can relax into actually playing the game rather than poring over its flaws – holy shit. This thing actually works. I could and would play a full game on it. I suspect the microconsole – which comprises a small, flat box with HDMI, ethernet, wi-fi & USB and a wireless gamepad, but you can plug in your own keyboard and mouse instead – has some manner of dark trickery to eke the best possible image out of your internet connection, and maybe even apply post-processing such as image sharpening. Whatever it is, it works.

On my low-end 40″ 1080P TV at a distance, I happily played an hour of Deus Ex Human Revolution and kept forgetting it was happening via video streaming. On Space Marine, the rather busier scenes meant a noticeably blurrier but still tolerable picture, while the sedate Tropico 4 was genuinely startling in its visual clarity – though the image did of course degrade if I busily panned the camera around constantly. On my PC at 1920×1200 fullscreen, any and all of these games were just that bit too far gone, though of course this is just my experiential account – faster connections could make a big difference. Something is very, very different in the two versions, though. Maybe the OnLive PC software can be updated with post-processing tricks, or maybe the inherent, face-against-the-monitor nature of the PC means it’s necessarily a different deal and just won’t be sufferable until/unless you have an internet connection of impossible speeds. (Mine is nominally 10MB, by the way, which in practice means maximum download speeds of 1.4 megabytes per second).

As for lag, I could feel a slight delay but for the games I played it wasn’t enough to impair the experience. No way I’d play a multiplayer shooter with it, but I had no problem at all headshotting [redacted's] goons in DXHR or shotgunning bandits in STALKER’s first mission (for which I picked up six spectators, all witness to my embarrassing death as I faced a wall while trying to remember what the Use Bandage button was as a man repeatedly shot me in what I think was the kidney). I’d definitely rather play games on my PC with everything whacked up as far as my wheezing Radeon will allow, but I would play an entire game (and more) on the OnLive microconsole. I am genuinely amazed, and my cynicism about cloud gaming has evaporated – I don’t think it can replace playing a game locally on your own hardware, but I think it can co-exist very happily, and pretty much right now rather than years down the line. To some extent, it’s a bit like when MP3s and YouTube first cropped up – you put up with the hit to the quality because the ease of having everything directly to hand is super.

Of course, if you look at the PC version only you’re going to think I’m a raving madman with custard for brains because it looks so blurry-edged and washed out in fullscreen (you’re better off playing windowed, really), and you can’t exactly try out the microconsole version without offering OnLive money-up front (or apparently they’re on eBay, as thousands were given out at the EG Expo – that’s how I got one). I guess the take-home message from this, then, is don’t count OnLive out – on its own hardware and in a lounge-based situation it seems a whole lot more impressive. Those two USB ports are particularly tantaslising, too – because they in theory make this the world’s cheapest gaming PC. You’d sacrifice choice and mods and playing offline and about a thousand other aspects the modern PC gaming experience involves, but as a lounge-based companion it’s onto something.

If only there was a way to export savegames so you can alternate a play session between OnLive on your normal PC, mind (not to mention the need for OnLive access to a game to somehow be bundled with its standard purchase, which was trialled in DXHR, even if those rotters at Gamestop tried to stop it). Pricing issues will remain a sore point, given you are in many getting a lesser experience so shouldn’t have to pay full whack, but you should definitely try out the £1 for your first purchase trial offer they’ve got on at the moment – it even includes DXHR.

The major problem I’ve hit is that the service is frequently ‘full’ when I try to connect, which means I need to wait to get in. They probably need to buy more gaming PCs, or whatever it is they’re streaming the games from, because even a wait of a few minutes can seriously kill the impulse to play. I guess this will be a matter of how successful the enterprise ends up being, though.

I’m pretty sure PC gaming, in all its infinite variety doesn’t really have to worry about this as any kind of threat, though it might well become a useful companion technology in time. If I made traditional consoles though, I’d be very, very worried right now.

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168 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge Joshua says:

    Minor question: Would this allow gaming on netbooks?

    • Premium User Badge MerseyMal says:

      it allows gaming on tablets – so yes :)

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yes. I’ve heard the tablets is wrong though. It allows opening the service on tablets but not actually gaming on them as far as I’m aware.

    • johnpeat says:

      Simple fact is you need a keyboard and mouse or a controller for this – people thinking of it on phones and tablets are just mentals – ignore them.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I see no reason why you couldn’t plug a mouse and keyboard into a tablet. It would be great, a nice little portable gaming pc for multiplayer in the same house.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      Definitely works on netbooks. That and the living room are probably the two proper places for it.

      Before launch OnLive demonstrated playing Dirt 2 or something on an iPhone, with specially remapped touch or tilt control. They’ve always looked at platforms other than the PC.

    • Planet9 says:

      Also, I can pair a bluetooth controller with my Android phone, shouldn’t be a problem to do so with a tablet.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      I’ve played it over WiFi on a netbook with the video being output to a HDTV over VGA and an Xbox 360 controller.

      Worked just fine. The client will complain about you using WiFi, for good reason, as it adds lag and you don’t want dropped packets (lots of interference from other access points where I live). The video stream can’t wait for data to be resent so missing or late packets are simply forgotten about. It can compensate somewhat, filling in the gaps with prediction algorithms and the like, but if it gets severe then you’re looking at an image full of blocky chunks and holes.

      Image is a little grainy and the sample rate washes things out a little, but this scales to your available bandwidth so take all those bad reports with a pinch of salt. Latency is the real issue, input lag with mouselook can be tricky, but oddly less noticable with a thumbstick on a pad. Latency is determined by your distance from a data centre and how many routing machines between them and you. You could have a 50Mb line and yet be unable to play, or have a crappy video feed with no perceptable lag.

    • Premium User Badge BumbleBeard says:

      You can play it on tablets – they showed off at the Eurogamer Expo by playing From Dust on (I think) iPads.

    • Jumwa says:

      My tablet has a keyboard, and USB for a mouse hookup. So I’m good to go then? (Assuming I didn’t have terrible bandwidth limitations, thank you cable companies and your monopolies on ISPs in Canada, and the Conservative Party for doing nothing about it).

    • djbriandamage says:

      Yes, OnLive absolutely works on netbooks. One of the founder’s (Steve Perlman) demos I watched showed him playing Crysis at full detail and full framerate on a netbook with a sub-2GHz Atom CPU and 1GB of RAM. The whole purpose of the platform is to offload heavy system requirements for everything but the internet connection.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      Jumwa, you’re not good to go just yet. Android and iPad support are in the works and were demoed at E3
      http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/07/onlive-player-app-for-ipad-and-android-tablets-meets-the-public/

      Looks like the release is planned for this fall.

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  2. DrGonzo says:

    It does look okay on a netbook too, due to the low resolutions. The delay has been bigger than I expected. It’s often absolutely fine and I forget about it, but it fluctuates way too much for me at the moment. I can’t be certain if thats me or Onlive.

  3. abigbat says:

    I was completely taken aback by how well the service works. Grab a 360 controller, sit a bit back from your monitor and it’s a great experience.

    [on a related note I highly advise playing with a controller - it considerably lessens noticeable input lag]

    • max pain says:

      Sooo does this still classify as a PC gaming? Especially with the Micro-console + gamepad.

  4. CMaster says:

    “The major problem I’ve hit is that the service is frequently ‘full’ when I try to connect”
    This is going to remain a major problem for the service.
    Either they maintain a reasonable amount of hardware, and queueing to play anything at peak times is normal, or they maintain enough hardware to provide a service even at peak time and have to grossly inflate prices to cover this.

    There’s a couple of middleground options of course (downgrade performance as the service gets busier, offer a “premium” sub to queue jump). But I foresee this being the major complaint for everybody who makes this service their primary mode of gaming.

    • johnpeat says:

      They’re just launched, they offer a load of free trials and top-end games for £1 – it will be busy.

      It’s not going to stay that busy tho – so I don’t think it’s going to be a big issue (and if it does stay that busy, they should have the income to expand the service).

      The ‘we’re full’ message are unfortunate really tho – they illustrate the absolute worst aspect of this sort of thing – which is the “if you have no net or something outside your house goes wrong, no games).

    • CMaster says:

      Yes, the current nature of always busy could be down to that, but like I say, the problem of the service being busy when you most want to play will remain.

    • spicyblue says:

      As a Yank, I’ve never had this problem (and have been a member since it launched in the US). Probably just an issue of early volume.

  5. Heliocentric says:

    I don’t fancy playing dxhr on blurr-o-vision, is any other game better suited? (not tropico as I already have it)

    • DrGonzo says:

      Something your PC cannot run. If you can run everything super shiny and maxed out then OnLive will only offend you. If your pc is low powered or out of date and can’t handle them then you will love it.

    • johnpeat says:

      I’ve tried a few and the results vary – the main thing is the resolution of your monitor tho.

      I seem to be getting a 720p stream – that’s AOK for my laptop, OK on my 1440×900 monitor but will look worse and worse as the monitor/rez grows…

      Games ARE playable tho – DXHR and Space Marine are perfectly playable, you forget about the slight blur when you start to enjoy the game anyway (if it you’re the sort of person for whom graphical detail and fps really matter – this just isn’t for you at all – go away).

      I was surprised at Tropico tbh – I expected all the text to be hard to read but it was fine – Ego Draconis demonstrates how not to do it tho – it’s utterly ugly and the text is migraine inducing – the problem is it’s like that on 360 and – frankly – it’s not perfect on PC either :)

      If you look at this less as a replacement for a gaming PC and more as an alternative to consoles or even a way of playing games on a laptop/netbook/media centre – it’s actually pretty decent tho.

  6. KauhuK says:

    Soon all those Internet TV:s will have this service and you dont need a console at all anymore. Just plug a controller into your TV, put the OnLive on and start gaming.

    • Stromko says:

      Soon, bandwidth limits will be everywhere with every ISP (as all the big bandwidth providers are owned by a couple different corps) and no one will be able to play OnLive more than 10 hours a month without being throttled down to a 100 KB/s connection. In my house we already get warnings from Comcast, and we’re just using Netflix mostly.

    • Starky says:

      Luckily here in the UK that isn’t the case as all service providers (ADSL not cable) get their bandwidth from 1 company – BT wholesale, which is heavily government regulated – and while recent laws allow companies to place their own hardware in BT owned data centres/telephone exchanges (for a price, but cheaper than renting BT hardware + bandwidth) it is still subject to the same regulation.

      Simply put because BT provides a baseline and that baseline is set by government mandate – companies in order to compete must provide a better service/bandwidth/limits.

      It’s still pretty damn shit compared to some countries in Europe, but at least it isn’t going the way of the US in charging on bandwidth usage, or Australia and having really low bandwidth caps and then charging for any more used (at a stupidly excessive marked up price).

    • Dozer says:

      Non-BT ADSL has been the norm for a while now. Local-Loop Unbundling (the local loop being the last mile or so of copper wire between your house and the phone exchange) means that O2 etc can put their own equipment at the other end of your phone line – I don’t know what connects O2′s phone-exchange box with the rest of the Internet though, but it’s not necessarily BT. This means that when I was an O2 customer last year BT owned the copper wire that ran to my house but had no other involvement in my internet connection. I think.

      BT Wholesale is a separate product, where your ISP buys the ADSL connection from BT and resells it to you and the whole lot is physically BT’s hardware.

      There’s nothing to stop other ISPs from installing their own ADSL hardware at the exchange, offering their own ADSL product at a lower price than BT, and then installing bandwidth caps, download limits, pay-as-you-go etc.

    • DrGonzo says:

      This is a bit of an issue. Currently I’m on Virgin Media and they apply very harsh limits to their connections. I get around 1gb in the evening or ‘peak times’. I pretty much always hit it. It makes OnLive impossible between those times, which is obviously the time I would want to be playing.

    • Rhodri2311 says:

      @ Dr Gonzo -

      I kept hitting my limit with Virgin as well as the evening one is stupidly small (especially in a shared house). I sorted it by grabbing a router that can run Tomato firmware (http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato) and running this script that uses your QoS throttling to stop you going over the limit & being capped for the 5 hours.

      Script here: http://www.linksysinfo.org/index.php?threads/virgin-media-uk-stm-monitoring-script.28237/

      It’s worked great for me, though it does take a bit of fiddling to get setup (and you need an old style virgin modem, not one of their terrible superhubs).

    • Premium User Badge frymaster says:

      @Rhodri2311

      The issue there is you’re basically turning a soft cap, where you download a certain amount in an evening and then get reduced performance, and turning it into a hard cap, where you never go over that first figure at all.

      @DrGonzo

      Assuming you’re on medium or higher, you’d get throttled down to at least 2.5 megabits, which is above the minimum spec for onlive. I wouldn’t like to try it at that, though.

    • Rhodri2311 says:

      @ frymaster

      That is true, however it at least allows you to monitor how close you are to you limit, and gives you far more control over your connection. With Virgin I used to find myself slipping over the limit in the last hour or 30 mins, and then would be capped and couldn’t play any online games until almost 2am when the limit lifted. I’d choose to completely cut out the net for 30mins than have it crippled for 5 hours.

    • 0p8 says:

      @Rhodri2311

      I had the same issue in the 4pm-9pm gap when i had a 10mb virgin line so I religously used DU Meter, I couldnt live without it. Its quite versatile, you can set alarms and wotnot.
      I have a 30mb connection now which is plenty generous so DU meter has been abandoned :-(

  7. Jams O'Donnell says:

    You went all-out with that headline. I can feel the enthusiasm radiating from you like waves of warm custard.

  8. Syra says:

    I wanted to try it out today (the £1 game deal was pretty neat) but when I installed the client it spams me with ‘internet connection is not sufficient to stream video’ blah blah. My speedtest is a consistent 5mbps.

    No idea.

    • johnpeat says:

      Speed tests aren’t really enough – the big thing is your PING and it’s consistency – which is determined largely by where your ISP is location in relation to where OnLive are hosting their stuff.

      I’ve seen Onlive work OK on connections down to 2.5-3mbps and I’ve seen it struggle on an 18mbps connection – it’s all about your ISP (and your local network setup too tbh)

    • Mman says:

      “internet connection is not sufficient to stream video”

      Same here. I kind of wonder how big the spread of this will be here with how fucking terrible connections are in many places, but whatever. I guess I’ll be able to try it out when the connection here gets improved in a millennia or two.

  9. Jorum says:

    As I mentioned elsewhere, for PC it just is too ugly, but the plug in consoley thing makes me wonder if it could (or should) just replace Xbox.
    Especially since most stuff on Xbox ends up on PC (thus onlive) anyway, whereas a number of great PC games don’t end up on Xbox.
    The thought of sitting on my sofa playing Total War or Monkey Island is very appealing (to me at least, I suspect wife and kids would not agree).

  10. Cooper says:

    It seems like it may run on Wine.

    Which means my Home-Theatre PC running Ubuntu + MythTV may be getting even more spangly soon.

  11. spicyblue says:

    For what it’s worth… I’ve heard they’re trying to incorporate mods into their games, you’d simply be able to check them off when playing (instant mods). Unfortunately I can’t remember where I read this. Still could be interesting and I think you made a good point about early adopters of MP3 (sacrificing quality)… cloud gaming can only get better (as long as it doesn’t fail).

    • Chirez says:

      Not sure how it could accomodate mods, since the games are actually hardware encoded, to provide the necessary speed. They do not run on PCs. When you’re playing Human Revolution via Onlive, as I understand it, you are connected to a hardware copy of the game. Which is to say a card which actually IS the game.

    • Darthus says:

      Not to my knowledge. That wouldn’t make much sense, nor would it be expandable based on demand. I believe they’re using virtualized machines, so Tropico is on a virtualized 1 CPU 512MB ram machine, Crysis is on a 2 CPU 2GB Ram machine, all running at the same time on a huge server. This way they can spin up and down games as needed to meet demand. And thus, all they need to do it have saved machines with different mod setups and just spin up the one that matches what you want.

  12. Hdfisise says:

    They need to offer more payment types though….

  13. Taidan says:

    Have they bought out any offers over here whereby you can get your mitts on a free “MicroConsole” if you buy certain full-priced games?

    Saw a few offers like like available over in the states. Would be tempted to partake if it’s happening here in the UK.

  14. Flakfizer says:

    I was all ready to buy DXHR on this until i got to the bit where they talk about how you can play the game while you have an ‘active’ account and the game is on their service.

    If GoG dies i have my games downloaded and burned to disk. If Steam dies they have promised to patch out the online Steam requirement. If Onlive dies i lose any games i have bought there.

    I guess that makes ownership my issue. I’m old enough now to still be freaked when a game doesn’t come in a box with a manual …

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      It’s the spotify model which interests me for Onlive really. I’m fine for playing a Spotify sub for most of the music I listen to, and only buy a few things I actually want as MP3s. I suspect I’d end up using this in the same way.

      KG

    • johnpeat says:

      NOWHERE does it say that Steam will make games available in the event they shut down – that’s an Internet Myth…

      OnLive cannot possibly offer you any games if they close down – it’s impossible – you’re ‘renting’ the games (arguably the same as any other game which includes DRM or which becomes unsupported over time).

      Ownership of games is a myth and has been for years – you buy a version in a box, all that means is you’re guaranteed a box to keep, nothing else :)

    • johnpeat says:

      Presumably not the bit of the Spotify model which REQUIRES Facebook membership – yes REQUIRES :)

    • Vinraith says:

      If Steam dies they have promised to patch out the online Steam requirement.

      This dangerous little piece of misinformation just spreads like a plague, doesn’t it?

      If Steam dies, Valve’s going to be in no position to patch out anything. Also, no one that actually works for the company has ever made any such claim.

    • Chris D says:

      Is anyone seriously worried Steam might die anytime in the foreseeable future?

    • Urthman says:

      There’s already patches available that make Steam games playable without Steam. If Valve dies, the internet has your back.

    • johnpeat says:

      What’s much more likely if that you lose your Internet – happens when people move home, happens when people work mobile, happens when someone nicks 2km of cable and it takes BT 2 weeks to replace it (happened nearby leaving 100s of people and businesses without phone or internet!!)

      That’s the real case to consider – not the ‘Valve go bust’ one – although some people can’t sleep at night worrying that the game they bought today might not be playable in 15 years time and so – ah who cares :)

    • Wilson says:

      @Johnpeat – Regarding Spotify needing Facebook, which bit is that? I didn’t notice needing a Facebook account for my Spotify account. I do have a Facebook account, so maybe I missed it or something, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t linked at all. Is it if you want to do certain things or something?

    • Premium User Badge Llewyn says:

      @Wilson: You didn’t miss it. I’m a Spotify subscriber too, and I’ve never had a Facebook account.

    • Darthus says:

      @Kieron This is the PlayPack, why has nobody mentioned that, is it not available in the UK yet? In the US you can pay 9.99 a month to have access to a growing library of games, unlimited. And I mean growing, I swear they ad like 2-3 a week, including ones that just drop down from the main marketplace. Batman Arkham Asylum was just added last week. It’s also totally awesome for checking out older games you never got to playing.

    • Azradesh says:

      If steam dies then I crack all my steam games.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      You can, right now, find a crack for any game on Steam. Valve needn’t do a damn thing, you can crack whatever you feel like just fine.

      Of course, that’s not the issue, is it? My reason for owning games on Steam was complete and utter effortlessness of downloading, installing and removing games as I see fit. Well, that’s not exactly true. The real reason is that I want to pay for games I like. I don’t want to pay 50e, but incredi-sales bring the price down to what I think is a price I can support.

      But on top of that, I want the ease of access. I could’ve just donated money to the developer otherwise. I bought the games through Steam because I have to invest zero effort to get a fully working online-enabled copy of the game at full download speed. There is absolutely no comfort in knowing that if Steam dies I’ll be able to play those games. I can already play those games without Steam.

    • Premium User Badge VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      The myth is kept alive by the Steam Subscriber Agreement 13.C. Termination by Valve:

      “2. In the case of a one-time purchase of a product license (e.g., purchase of a single game) from Valve, Valve may choose to terminate or cancel your Subscription in its entirety or may terminate or cancel only a portion of the Subscription (e.g., access to the software via Steam) and Valve may, but is not obligated to, provide access (for a limited period of time) to the download of a stand-alone version of the software and content associated with such one-time purchase.”

      Full text of the agreement is at http://store.steampowered.com/subscriber_agreement/

      Note the words “is not obligated to”.

    • johnpeat says:

      On the Spotify/Facebook thing

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/09/27/zuckerberg_reservation_and_the_future_of_content_platforms/

      Existing customers are fine (for now) but if you want to sign-up from now on, you MUST have a Facebook account.

      Note that Spotify are telling people just to sign-up and set everything to ‘off’ but that is actually a violation of Facebooks Policy of not setting up bogus or inactive accounts!

      It’s not a good sign for Spotify that they’re this desperate for cover…

  15. Premium User Badge Sinomatic says:

    So I was reasonably impressed with my quick go at it, enough that I was going to splash out a whole £1 on a game, and then…credit cards only? (Or am I just being incredibly thick/blind?)

    EDIT: Turns out it will take debit cards with the mastercard/visa logo: http://support.onlive.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/135

    Still, paypal etc would have been nice…

    • johnpeat says:

      I’m pretty sure I used my Debit Card when I signed-up and it worked AOK – at least it gave me the game!!

      Maestro and Visa Delta/Electron may be issues tho – I find they tend not to work for transactions processed outside the UK (or in petrol pumps which is fucking annoying).

  16. Robin says:

    A good and level-headed appraisal. Being able to share Steamworks saves (or similar) would make it massively more attractive.

    I do wonder who these people are for whom all levels of modern gaming are financially off limits (and yet would consider an £8 a month fee on top of their presumably not inexpensive super-fast broadband connection) though. I’d imagine it’s hard to buy a PC that can’t run the typical console-ported fare these days.

    • disperse says:

      The monthly fee is just for the Playpass games. New release games can be bought outright for prices similar to Steam (full price at release, deeply discounted in the future).

      I’m in a situation where my primary PC is a 4-year-old laptop. My choices are to 1. ignore new games, 2. buy a $500 PC and buy new games, or 3. buy new games I’m interested in using OnLive. OnLive actually turns out to be my most economical solution in the short-run.

      Edit: On second thought, the most economical solution is ignoring new games altogether but playing them is more fun.

    • Bremze says:

      Make that 300$ or less, when AMD Bulldozer comes out.

      An unlocked Phenom II x2 555, Radeon 6850 (or a 5850, if you can find one for less) will let you play anything on high in the near future, might have to drop tessellation down a notch in BF3 maybe.

    • MattM says:

      Eating out once a week @ $15/wk = $780/yr
      Avg US Smart phone plan @ $85/mo = $1020/yr
      4 beers a week at a bar (or coffee at cafe) @ $12/wk = $620/yr
      Used fishing boat @ $10000 amortized over 10 years = $1000/yr (plus plenty of maintenance)
      If you spend $500 a year on your computer you can stay pretty near the cutting edge. Even $250 a year keeps you at high settings on most new games. I like videogames and am willing to spend a little less in other areas to get new parts for my computer and always wonder why people get such sticker shock over computers when other luxuries have similar or greater prices.

  17. Citizen Kabuto says:

    I’m absolutely amazed by OnLive – I so thought it was going to be shite.

    Running on a shitty laptop over a 50Mb connection, playing DXHR. Amazing.

    To be honest, I found the controller lag on DXHR to be too much – firefights were simply horrible. After swapping to Space Marine though – no issues. I really enjoyed Space Marine and completed it early this morning.

    Space Marine, played on my crap work laptop, start to finish for a quid! Superb.

    Oh, and did anybody check the terms/conditions/privacy policy? Nowhere does it mention that you can’t have multiple accounts! So go grab a few one quid games and give it a whirl!

    • johnpeat says:

      I suspect that’s deliberate because

      a – it fuels their subscriber numbers so they can make huge claims about signups
      b – nowhere does it say now long your ‘£1 game’ will be available to you and I doubt it’s going to be forever – hence it’s not a big loss to them.

    • disperse says:

      @johnpeat

      I doubt they’ll take the game away from you. I’ve bought three games and was given two games for free (Bought Alpha Protocol, Just Cause 2, and Deus Ex, got Borderlands GOTY and Amnesia: Dark Descent for free) and they haven’t give any indication that they are going to take away my free games. It’s in their best interest to keep you a customer which means keeping you using their service as long as possible.

    • johnpeat says:

      The original business model here was to charge by the month just to access ANYTHING – and then to charge for each game as well.

      Clearly they saw sense – but nowhere does it say that you get to keep the service forever and if they change models, you could lose your games (and you’d have to choose 1 to keep or pay multiple subs?)

      Not a bad things from a ‘play now’ perspective ofc.

    • SpinalJack says:

      “For first-time OnLive purchasers only, you may purchase a Full PlayPass for £1.00 from 22 September 2011 (12:00AM BST) to 9 October 2011 (11:59PM BST). Offer is not valid toward pre-orders. Limit one redemption per household. ”

      “Limit one redemption per household”

      Read the small print

    • Dozer says:

      So presumably at some point a bored data analyst will discover the duplicate purchases from your bank card, or the multiple accounts sharing one IP address, and put your balls into a vice.

  18. awwells says:

    As the modern Mac gamer here I am ecstatic. 1 pound deus ex now, not 2 months down the line. And it does actually work.

    Lots of people complaining about visual qualities, and I do live in fear of the quality dropping. But something people seem to forget that this service will improve over time. Its already playable. In two years time. Connection speeds will improve, as will encoding tech. So only expect this to become better and better.

    Its pretty appealing to the console players out there to. Why waste money on hardware?

  19. Ovno says:

    Tried it out on pc and was quite impressed it is a little washed out and stuff but for 30min trials and special offers I’d give it a go, if it wasn’t for the horrendous eye strain it gives me, anyone else having similar problems?

  20. Vinraith says:

    I’m starting to think there’s a direct correlation between game “ownership” becoming more and more ephemeral and temporary, and games themselves becoming more and more disposable.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I agree, though I don’t think this heralds the end of gaming as we know it – if anything it may reduce the cost of games to the consumer at the expense having to wait- we rent them first for a few pounds, then buy them (In the sense we know) on a gog-alike service a few years down the line.

      I know right now, we have to “rent” them at full price, but that won’t sustain, I’m pretty certain, especially with things like Onlive, which I assume the next gen of consoles will all be running in a similar fashion.

    • johnpeat says:

      You’re just getting old – games aren’t any more disposable than they’ve ever been…

    • Vinraith says:

      I really mean “more disposable” from a design perspective. It seems like an increasing volume of titles, especially mainstream titles, are made for a single, short playthrough after which they can simply be forgotten about.

      No one cares about being able to access a game 5 years down the line if there’s no reason to play it more than once.

    • johnpeat says:

      Again I just think that’s you and your tinted specs…

      Games are a bit more cynically designed because it’s a more competitive market – but you could argue that almost every game available now has more depth and variation that Space Invaders or Pacman, so…

      If you design a game so that it can played many different ways – and then discover that 90% of your customers only play it once – you’d be an idiot not to change your ways tho surely?

    • Premium User Badge Wisq says:

      Unless a) the 10% who take full advantage of the game are your dedicated fanbase who will stick with you through thick and thin, b) you’re not 100% confident you can attract the fickle 90% the next time around, and c) you could in theory still make a profit with just the 10%.

      Sticking with the 10% is nurturing your fanbase (and hopefully watching it grow over time); going with the 90% is abandoning and alienating them for better profits. There’s merits and risks to both approaches.

      Also, 90% completing it once is not the same as 90% completing it a specific way. If you reduce your game to “One Way to Play(TM)”, and 90% of your users liked being able to play their way (not all the same way), you still risk potentially losing 100% of your audience by becoming a bland linear game.

    • Kaira- says:

      What Wisq said. I can’t find the link now, but back in the days when Microsoft was designing their Ribbon UI found out that most of the users only use 10% of the available functionalities. However, pretty much all of them used different 10%. Limiting yourself this way isn’t really beneficial.

      Also, I agree with Vinraith.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      It’s an interesting thought, but the cause/effect is probably the other way around – more disposable games mean people don’t care about owning them. The explosion of the industry, the mainstreamification of gaming is to blame for most current design trends. They’re making what most people want, or at least what they think most people want.

    • MattM says:

      The Japanese combat the disposeability by adding lots of grind and hundred hour collect em all side quests. I dont really think that is better.
      I am ok with one and done games if they offer a great experience the first time. If a game is long then it is kinda nice to see most or all of the content in a single playthough rather than missing out on stuff unless I am willing to replay huge sections of the game. Many of my all time favorites I have only played once games like World of Goo, Shadow of the Colossus, Grim Fandango all felt super satisfying when I beat them because I had gotten to do every thing the game offered.

  21. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    I would really like to try this out, especially on my netbook. for some neat little single player gaming or the games from the Humble Indie Bundle I’m sure it would work sufficiently. Sadly it’s not available in germany, yet, and it seems I’m going to miss out on the nice 1$ deal.

  22. Ultra-Humanite says:

    All consoles must die.

    • johnpeat says:

      Why?

      *waits for more nonsense to appear*

    • Premium User Badge AndrewC says:

      Because they are brainwashing our youth into being submissive, apathetic zombies. Just think about it – what have all console gamers been trained to do? To hold on to a controller at all times. A CONTROLLER.

      THINK ABOUT IT

    • Premium User Badge Daiv says:

      Thank you for your well-reasoned and thoughtful contribution.

  23. cliffski says:

    “The major problem I’ve hit is that the service is frequently ‘full’ when I try to connect, which means I need to wait to get in.”

    LOLLLERSKATES.

    I play games when I want to. Not when some third party middle-man service has a gap in their schedule.
    Plus, with gaming on a PC getting vastly ahead of consoles every passing day, why on earth would I choose to play games that run pin sharp in 1920-x1200 res on a TV at some laughbly 1990s resolution?

    I just don’t get it.

    • johnpeat says:

      If you’d spent any amount of time looking at people’s PCs and TVs you’d realise that most people haven’t got a clue about resolutions and settings and shit like that (as a developer you really should be aware of that!!)

      I’ve lost count of the people who have console plugged-in to LCDs using SCARTS or laptops/desktops running non-native resolutions.

      Hell I met someone recently who’s a Counter-Strike nut but plays in 1024×768 on a widescreen LCD – he’d never even considered looking to change it…

      Customers – they are your bread and butter, make some effort to understand them.

    • disperse says:

      Your brain compensates for poor graphics. Take Minecraft for instance: it may just be a pink square with a couple black dots but our brain quickly translates it into “pig”. Anyone with eyes could tell the difference in a side-by-side comparison with a real gaming PC but the blurriness hasn’t bothered me while using the OnLive service.

    • cliffski says:

      I thought I understood gamers enough to know that people want to play Gratuitous Space Battles at THEIR leisure, not mine.
      I’ve been selling games for a living for a decade and a half, I have some vague idea who gamers are.

    • disperse says:

      @cliffski

      This may just be a launch hiccup related to the one pound promotion. I’ve been using OnLive in the US for over a year and haven’t had to queue up to access the service.

    • Dozer says:

      PCs are already 9 times better than consoles – didn’t you see that graph from nvidia’s research lab?

    • johnpeat says:

      @Cliffski – no, you have some idea of what you think your gamers are – but assuming that they’re all resolution and graphical detail obsessed suggests you’re targetting a tiny fraction of people who actually play games (which might work for you but won’t work for everyone).

      The accessibility thing is a fact BUT games are going to be tied more and more to the Internet whether you like it not (if, for no other reason, than the fact people like playing against other people!)

      Something like this clearly has it’s place – I’ve been playing DXHR on it for 2 days now and whilst the mouse lag felt a bit wrong at first, I’ve compensated for it and I cannot really fault the graphics (my laptop couldn’t even run the game – my desktop would probably look little better)

      The idea that I could plugin a cheap doodah downstairs and play it on the TV (and/or come back upstairs into the office and continue when she wants the TV) is just a bonus for me – and I’m not even their target market, as I own a half-decent PC.

      That market is the VAST amount of people who have no idea about PC hardware and just want to play games. They won’t notice the display quality issues, they won’t notice the input lag, they’ll just be pleased they can play games for relatively few notes and even less hassle – there must be scores of them.

      Maybe some of them would like GSB – you’d be foolish to ignore them too

  24. Quine says:

    How many hours of gameplay would Mr 4GB/month-download-cap get out of this before maxing out?

    • johnpeat says:

      About half the number you’d get from BBC iPlayer – if that means anything to you :)

      Bandwidth caps are moronic tho – no idea why people feed them. I can partly understand peaktime bandwidth caps but blanket ones are idiotic – why do people even bother?

    • Synchrony says:

      Onlive advises it needs a 5mbps connection, which would use up 4gb in under 2 hours

  25. 4026 says:

    “Those two USB ports are particularly tantaslising, too – because they in theory make this the world’s cheapest gaming PC. You’d sacrifice choice and mods and playing offline and about a thousand other aspects the modern PC gaming experience involves, but as a lounge-based companion it’s onto something.”

    See, I take issue with that. You’re broadly redefining “PC Gaming” to “Gaming with a keyboard and mouse”. I’d argue that the actual control system is about the least significant part of the major philosophical differences between PC and console gaming.

    The ability to mod games into entirely different entities is a critical difference, as is the prominence (and actual independence) of indie devs. The keyboard and mouse part, although a lot of the console-vs-PC flamewars focus on it, is immaterial. I can plug my PC into a TV and play Just Cause 2 with an XBox controller. It doesn’t suddenly turn it into a console.

    • awwells says:

      most people don’t play mods. Its not really aimed at the hardcore community I don’t think. Basicly if your commenting on this story its probs not for you.

    • Dozer says:

      Didn’t the PS2 come with two USB ports? People made happy noises about being able to play PS2 titles with keyboard and mouse, but no-one ever did.

      That said, PS2 games are not PC games.

    • Ovno says:

      You can’t play ps3 games with keyboard and mouse or 360 as they are disabled in software.

      That said for me, pc gaming is gaming with a keyboard and mouse, that is what is important to me.

      Having to faff with settings and maybe being install a mod or two (not that I normally do) do not define what is good about pc gaming.

      Also indie games they are the best thing about pc nowadays.

  26. Radiant says:

    Is it weird that I don’t want this to work?
    I just spent a gazillion pounds upgrading my PC.
    Maybe that has something to do with it.

    BASTARDS.

    • johnpeat says:

      It’s not weird – it IS immature tho

    • Stuart Walton says:

      I have a new GPU and a HSF to let me overclock my CPU arriving tomorrow to keep my PC capable of gaming for the next few years. I’m looking at faster memory too as the current sticks don’t let me OC the CPU to its optimum.

      I want OnLive to work but I still want my PC to be up to scratch. There is plenty of PC stuff that OnLive just wont be supporting for years to come. Mods, hacks, community patches & indie. Quite simply, the same arguments that console gaming will never kill off PC.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      It’ll be decades before OnLive can deliver a gaming experience identical to using a gaming rig. There’s no need to wish that it won’t work, that’s just straight up selfish.

  27. Lukasz says:

    can onlive work like steam too?

    Today Deus Ex HR requires higher end computer. 4 years from now basic wordprocessing computer will run the game maxed.

    Will you be able to download the game and play it on your computer or that copy will forever stay on onlive?

    • johnpeat says:

      No – Onlive is a streaming game service – they don’t offer downloadable/installable games (although I suppose they could, it would sort-of defeat the point a bit).

    • Lukasz says:

      That’s a problem I see. cause in 4 years you will have to rebuy the game if you want to play it maxed.
      if they add traditional store it would be a much better service. You can stream the game or you can download it. So when your hardware is good enough in the future you can play games you bought on launch properly.

    • SpinalJack says:

      How long until valve buys onlive and then offers streaming play along with their steam play (own both mac and PC versions of the game) deals.

    • Darthus says:

      Why will you have to rebuy the game if you want to play it maxxed? In 4 years it will be part of the PlayPack to play for free, also they will probably be streaming 3D and 1080P without issue and have the game on max settings… Or who knows what, given what they’ve done in 1 year and a few months.

    • Lukasz says:

      To play offline
      To play it with mods
      To ensure perfect quality when you brother is downloading 2 terabyte 4d porn movie with digitally inserted Bea Arthur?

  28. Cinnamon says:

    I’m not really sure why we need to have a somewhat positive message about onlive.

    It’s apparently like playing on a console only a lot worse. The games are full price but you don’t get access to them to use them in the ways you want like modding, backing up save games, using the discs as frisbees or whatever.

    Why can’t we just say that it is bad and is a bad idea. It is OK and useful for certain people like those who can’t afford a console but apparently have an ipad or netbook and don’t mind paying full price for games? I don’t know, that doesn’t sound so great.

    • Premium User Badge Durkonkell says:

      I think it’s a good thing for those who have a netbook or who want to play games on their TV in the traditional console manner and have a superfast internet connection. It’s absolutely not a replacement for high-end gaming PCs and the article says as much.

      I am, of course, excluded from this as my internet connection is shockingly appalling (if I get 1mbps I am very happy), I don’t have any desire to play games in the traditional console manner and I like my Shiny Grafiks, resolution and moddability. It’s not for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m prepared to agree that “it is bad and is a bad idea”. If you’re in the target audience for this service… it actually isn’t.

    • Dozer says:

      It could be useful for me – my PC is about six years old and has very little chance of being upgraded or replaced any time soon. I sit on my housemate’s bed and watch while he plays Deus Ex Human Resources on his two-year-old PC instead. I don’t think I’d ever want to play full price for a game I’d only ever play through OnLive but for the ‘disposable’ one-playthrough titles at a lower price it could be worth it.

    • Darthus says:

      One thing the article doesn’t mention (probably because you guys haven’t seen it yet), is that you almost NEVER pay full price for a game on OnLive. Everything is almost always on sale. Pretty much every new game, if you pre-order, has a buy 1 get 1 free deal, for any game. So you’re paying 50% off. Also, if you subscribe to the 9.99 playpack, you get 30% off everything. Rentals, purchases, whatever. Every Friday, they take a full priced game and make it 5 bucks.

      And those are just reliable sales, they randomly put stuff on extreme markdown all the time. I find it more aggressive than even Steam.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      I kinda agree with Cinnamon on this one. While the technology IS impressive, and it’s somewhat bewildering that it works, the actual service is worse than consoles. That is, in all the ways that PC gaming is interesting and open and worthy of having this site dedicated to it, OnLive is even more restrictive than a console. It’s a no mods, no customizability, closed system with a third party approved library and always on DRM.

      I absolutely get that it can be useful for some people, and convenient. But so can console gaming. I don’t really understand why it’s being covered here. It’s running “PC games” on “PC hardware” sure, but technically so is an Xbox.

      It’s a neat curiosity, but ask yourselves, if a game came out that was OnLive exclusive, would you find it alright for it to be covered here as a “PC game?” Because I wouldn’t. To me reading about OnLive games here is like reading about multiplatform games with an emphasis on how they play on non-PCs.

      That’s fine if that’s what RPS want to do, it’s their site, they can do what they like, and I’ll probably keep reading because the writing is consistently excellent, but to me OnLive is not PC gaming, and it feels like the “PC Gaming Blog” mandate has been dropped every time there’s an article about Onlive.

  29. Flappybat says:

    This article leaves me unsure if it is a validation of OnLive’s practicality or a reflection on the sorry state of image quality on consoles.

  30. D3xter says:

    I’m not sure why anyone would be positive about this… even if it somewhat works for people in serious need of (new) prescription glasses it’s at a loss of ANY and ALL consumer rights you might have left towards that software product, will NEVER work Offline or with wonky internet connections and it comes at a loss of about every advantage a PC has towards consoles…

    • Dozer says:

      Your post made me realise – semantically, this is not ‘PC’ gaming as the game’s not running on a PERSONAL computer. Unless each user gets the complete use of a computer-on-a-server-rack in the OnLive hive each time they log in. It’s sort of a throwback to the earliest days of the Internet. Part of what ArpaNet was built to do was to let you dial into the supercomputer down the road and use its processing facilities from off-site – this is exactly what OnLive is doing.

  31. Torgen says:

    So, you can spectate other people’s games? Only random peoples, or can you choose to spectate a particular user? This sounds intriguing.

    • disperse says:

      The first screenshot on this page is of the game browser. You can slide around thumbnail videos of a dozen games at a time and pick any of them to spectate. It’s pretty neat. Like live LPing. There is also voice chat if you want it (if you turn it off then spectators are limited to Cheering and Jeering which shows up as thumbs up and thumbs down icons in the corner of the screen).

    • Dozer says:

      I hope to goodness it’s possible to turn that off too.

    • disperse says:

      @Dozer

      Yeah, you can change that in the privacy settings. However, I thought I wouldn’t like having spectators while playing but it was actually an interesting experience. It made me want to play better and show off a bit.

  32. thegooseking says:

    “at the kind of proximity I would only otherwise have with a lover”

    What do you mean ‘otherwise’? There’s a difference between a PC and a lover?

    • Saldek says:

      Actually, I’d say lovers are more like a streaming service. You don’t acquire ownership, can’t resell or mod them and the service can be terminated at any time for any or no reason.

    • Premium User Badge c-Row says:

      You might not be able to resell them, yet most of them only come pre-owned.

    • Saldek says:

      Ack! How could you say that? Now, romance feels sullied, love lessened. It feels like my lover has fallen into the hands of EA: “Exclusive content for first-time owners only!”.
      Stretching the metaphor beyond breaking point, I must say that I now look back wistfully to the days of Virgin Interactive.

    • Premium User Badge c-Row says:

      I don’t know how I could ever top that. Well played, Sir!

  33. Jimbo says:

    Not a fan of games as a service. Or rather, I’m not a fan of them becoming successful to the point where games aren’t primarily being designed as retail products. Designing for a service (rather than product) model will have a massive -and I think mostly negative- impact on game design.

    “I’m pretty sure PC gaming, in all its infinite variety doesn’t really have to worry about this as any kind of threat, though it might well become a useful companion technology in time. If I made traditional consoles though, I’d be very, very worried right now.”

    I think this is optimistic, considering how dependent a lot of PC development is on the console market subsidising dev costs. The console retail market disappearing would take a lot of PC game development down with it. If OnLive type services do usurp the console market, and become the main funder of multi-plat games, I just don’t think those games end up being released as retail products at all, to anybody. You’ll still be able to play (what are currently) multi-plat games on your PC, but you’ll be doing it by renting or purchasing access via a stream.

  34. Pointless Puppies says:

    Kudos, Alec, for approaching this with a leveled head. Far too many people are jumping on the “NO CONSUMER RIGHTS ONLIVE IS EEEEVILLL!!! DIE DIE DIE!!!” bandwagon, which got tiring after about the 20th time the Death-to-Onlive cult showed up to the newest article regarding the service.

    As someone on the states I’ve been using it on and off and it’s quite perfectly serviceable. I actually am only using the PC client as I don’t have a microconsole, but what you say makes sense and now I kind of wish I had one. At any rate, my experience with OnLive is that it’s a fantastic service for renting games, the PlayPack is a really good deal if there are games on it you want to try but not really buy, and watching other people play is far more fun than it probably should be.

    I have a gaming PC, so my use on it is limited at best, but I (as well as many people here and Alec) are prudent enough to now that OnLive isn’t supposed to supplant conventional PC gaming at all. If you have access to your gaming rig most of the time OnLive isn’t going to be of much use to you. I feel like many people are taking personal offense at something that isn’t even geared at them, which is as silly as me taking offense at tampon commercials because they’re not catering exclusively to me.

    As a PC gamer, I enjoy OnLive for its rental/trial features and its PlayPack. I wouldn’t buy a full-priced game from there, seeing as if I’m that serious about wanting to play a game I’d much rather use my capable hardware and run it directly. But for people with incapable hardware who just want to play a couple games it’s a tremendously good alternative, and it has enough little features on it to entice PC players to boot it up every once in a while.

    That is, the ones who aren’t shouting “EEEVILLLL” while rocking back and forth in the fetal position ;)

  35. YohnTheViking says:

    That que at Eurogamer was insane.

    On the topic though; OnLive will probably have its best chance for survival if it changes its business model to be an actual rental store. A Blockbuster for gaming as one of my less gaming enthused friends put it. That way the lag, the waiting time, the lower quality, and fact that you will never actually own your games, don’t seem like such hurdles for using the service. It is just to try out a game that didn’t look so good in the first place after all.

    It also removes the problem with only 50% of games releasing demos these days.

    • disperse says:

      There are 3-day and 5-day rentals for some games. US prices are about $3 and $5 respectively. Also, you can demo any game on the service for 30 minutes for free. It’s the first 30 minutes of the full game too, not a separate demo version.

      Edit: I said “most games” but it is really less than half. Particularly if you include the Playpass games which you can’t rent.

    • Dozer says:

      Does anyone else read ‘playpass’ as ‘platypus’?

  36. Ehaic says:

    I find playing on my onlive Micro Console rather enjoyable. it seems to do a lot better at getting a higher resolution from my internet connection rather than the PC client. Onlive also seems to have deals sometimes where you can grab a Micro Console for pretty cheap. I got mine when they had a sell where if you spent atleast 5 dollars in their marketplace you got a coupon for a free full playpass/Micro Console.

    • utzel says:

      So how about a direct comparison? Hook up the PC to your HDTV and see if it’s the hardware or just the screen and distance which makes the quality appear not as bad. And afterwards find out what the micro-console does to connection and/or image and implement it everywhere else :D

  37. Pobblepop says:

    Have to say I’m impressed by what this can do. I played Metro 2033 on a Dell with a shit onboard gfx card at work today and it was playable and looked awesome. The full game would have made this pc weep for its mother in the corner. If this thing works out it could be the end of the endless hardware update cycle that gamers suffer from.

    • Arclight says:

      … suffer from? It’s called progress, the thing that’s being stifled by consoles. Which is exactly what this service might end up turning PCs into. :/

    • Bensam123 says:

      I agree… if you want good graphics then you buy good hardware. It’s sad that everyone seems to believe they’re entitled to great graphics with their 8 year old hardware that can barely play WoW. This is the reason why games are catering the lowest common denominator, consoles.

  38. Arclight says:

    Am I the only one scared to death by this then? Kinda feel like this thing taking off might have a rather big impact on PC gaming as we know it.

    I know PC gaming is very much alive and kicking, but with the rise of consoles there’s no denying it got a kick in the teeth. There’s a reason terms like “proper PC game” and “dumbed down” came into existence all of a sudden.

    Really fear this ends up leeching life out of the market.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Never understood this “sky is falling” mentality. Regardless of how much the service can take off, it inherently cannot and will never supplant traditional PC gaming. As convenient and novel as this is (and it is convenient and quite the neat technology), running games locally on dedicated hardware is always going to be the superior experience. And there are plenty of people like us with enough cash to get the superior experience. I get disappointed every time I hear someone wish death on an ambitious little startup with some crazy novel technology that actually works, all because of some completely misguided preconceived notion that traditional PC gaming and cloud gaming can’t possibly coexist and that one will, for some completely unknown reason, destroy the other. This entire “fear” is manufactured.

      Don’t get your knickers in a twist. OnLive won’t take away our precious gaming PCs. PC gaming has lived on despite far worse scenarios (like, say, console gaming and companies like Microsoft actively sabotaging the PC platform to further its own console brand), this is nothing by comparison.

    • Darthus says:

      Your sentiment is likely true for the near future, but let’s say in a couple years where they have OnLive specific games that are specifically designed for a quad core CPU and powerful graphics card on OnLive, and they are able to give you a reliable 1080P stream as faster internet becomes more ubiquitous, I think this could very well supplant a local gaming PC in overall graphical quality.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Nope, not at that point either. Trust me, it’ll be an extremely long time before OnLive will be able to deliver a completely lag-free experience (there’s till a hint of lag, even under the best conditions) with video quality that doesn’t drop from a constant 60 FPS and looks identical to running on your monitor’s lowest resolution. Even OnLive exclusive games won’t supplant traditional PC gaming.

      Once again, I don’t know where this idea of “this OR that” is coming from. OnLive is catering to a completely different demographic than the hardcore PC gamer, there’s no way that the service will ever supplant traditional PC gaming.

    • Thiefsie says:

      Blizzard (Activision) Ubisoft and Id will be on this like flies on shit once is starts working a little better and is a worldwide possibility – even possibly beforehand!

      If you can’t see that Blizzard (and even Valve) are using their market power/share to drag everyone into always-on, micro transaction hell, while developers like Id support them knowing that they don’t quite have the clout to do it… well… you are small in foresight.

      This is the inevitable future where everything (EVERYTHING) is going to be cloud based. Say goodbye to mods/customisation… etc.

      The next generation console developers must be scared of this…?? as they may be timed to clash horribly – and how do console developers make money?? – licensing and hardware peripherals…

      Licensing could be retained by onlive (and of course single-handedly eliminate piracy and the eeeeeeevil second hand market) . Hardware peripherals would however only be contained to input devices… (controllers – mics etc.) as opposed to mem cards, console upgrades, hard drives etc…

      This is essentially a win/win for the guys that make money off gaming, with a relatively small positive for the tight asses who can’t afford a decent pc (yet can afford a fat net pipe!) and bad news for any enthusiast otherwise.

      I agree netbook gaming would be amazing, but then realise my netbook would hardly ever had a fast enough connection as it is portable… (the point of netbook??).

      Console players will love this though – you’d drop the retarded install times as seen on PS3 (et al) and load times (hopefully) and peripheral spending (hopefully). For a use anywhere, constantly updated, streaming service with one localised messaging/friend connection point.

      Think about it and the possibilities are actually quite immense and great, apart from if you are a pretty hardcore PC gamer, and probably correlated to liking doing ‘whatever you want’ with your hardware/software.

      It’s the penultimate method of DRM that unfortunately the world is inevitably heading for…

      Fortunately for me I reckon in about the 5-10 years time it takes for this to really hit mainstream I will be mid-life and probably too time poor to really appreciate PC gaming again (already getting there) and thus actually like it, apart from the cost.

  39. Tams80 says:

    What would be nice; if possible would be to be able to choose different amounts of post processing you want your PC to do. Say you have an uber shiny monster gaming PC, then you could set it to max and get better visuals. If you had a netbook, you get set it minimum, or even zero and put up with the worse visuals and possibly more lag.

    I don’t know it it is even possible, but I sure hope it is.

    On another note: Onlive sure is great for demos, or at least could be. I’m fine installing a full game, but installing demos, less so.

    • disperse says:

      Until someone comes up with a better video compression algorithm I’m afraid we’re stuck with compromised graphics regardless of the hardware of the host PC.

      Of course, they will be able to improve the video quality when bandwidth costs go down and home Internet connections improve.

  40. Werthead says:

    I think this service could have specifically been designed for me. I’m a keen PC gamer, but spotty employment over the last couple of years and no imminent signs that things will improve in the near future mean I cannot justify forking out enough money for either a whole new PC or the updates my PC would require to get current (for starters, my desktop is a 5-year-old single core, so an update to modern standards would be quite involved). The last new release I could play well was FALLOUT 3, and the last new game I was able to play at all on release was STARCRAFT II, and even that chugged (despite relatively modest requirements).

    OnLive works excellently for me. I played and almost completed SPACE MARINE in a single 5-hour session and it looked and felt as good as playing the game on a mid-level system. I was – perhaps ironically – helped by the fact that my flatscreen blew up a few months ago, so I was playing on an old CRT where the image quality was going to be a bit fuzzier anyway. Aware (from RPS reviews) that the game was very short, I also only got the game for a fiver on a five-day pass, which was also immensely preferable to spending £35 only to put the game back on a shelf and not touch it again for a long time, if ever.

    The game was fast and responsive and – aside from slight irritation with people jeering me when the Ork Warboss kept throwing squigs at my fricking face for near insta-kills (though some of them also cheered me when he died in the face, which was nice) – the service worked pretty well. I have a 10mbs service from Virgin, which is neither expensive (£20 a month) nor unusually fast. However, my network cable is plugged straight into the PC (no router) and the exchange is just down the road, which both probably help a lot.

    Certainly I’d prefer to have a kick-ass, modern system that can run games natively and look great, but until that time, OnLive works fine as a great stopgap and as a way of demoing games. I’m also happy that I get to play DEUS EX for just £1 :-)

  41. Zulthar says:

    I got Amnesia on it for free and I was impressed. It works great for games that don’t require timing and precision and I would definitely use it a lot more if I had a crappy laptop. But right now I’m sitting on a monster PC so it doesn’t really appeal to me.

  42. amorpheous says:

    I was hoping this thing would let me play console games, especially those pesky, elusive console exclusives (for which those responsible should be banished to a land without love of any sort!). Imagine my disappointment when I found out that I can’t. IMAGINE!

  43. Scandalon says:

    So…can us Yanks take advantage of the 1pound deal? Even though it translates to like $3…

  44. therighttoarmbears says:

    So. Next question: what sort of unholy abomination will be born of crossing this with free-to-play? Or will it be the savior of the universe?

  45. AlwaysRight says:

    If only they could get rid of their oppressive ‘always online’ DRM…

  46. Premium User Badge BumbleBeard says:

    I hope the next version of the microconsole has WiFi – my telly is nowhere near my router :(

    • Darthus says:

      Yeah, kinda odd it doesn’t include that, though I guess that means they can assume a wired connection in their algorithms to the microconsole, upping quality and also keep the cost down.

    • johnpeat says:

      To be frank, WiFi is just more lag to a system which doesn’t need lag – get yourself a pair of cheap power-IP adaptor doodahs (£30ish)

  47. Renfield says:

    Alright; I’ll try it for one quid.

  48. KillahMate says:

    “nerdtastic but genuinely splendid features such as anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering”

    I seem to recall a Crysis 2 article not so long ago where you lot pooh poohed ‘teh grafix’ as nerd business that no one cares about. Are you now saying that it’s nice when games have advanced graphics features? I thought such plebeian matters were beneath you…

  49. Bensam123 says:

    Bandwidth caps completely obliterate any benefit this technology offers. Even if it completely blossoms out of it’s latency infested cataract ridden shell.

    Data rates now days are being increased in exchange for bandwidth caps, which aren’t proportional at all. This technology is already on the chopping block due to ISPs. Some unfortunate people are going to purchase the magic box and end up with a really huge internet bill the next month… hopefully they’ll know what’s causing it too…

    This is of course putting aside every other negative prospect of this technology…

  50. malkav11 says:

    The question for me has never been whether it works technically. If it didn’t deliver everything promised, it surely would as technology matured. It’s been the value proposition, and the incredible ceding of consumer rights it involves. I mean, as a service where you “buy” games it’s not even remotely tempting to me. I would give up all control over the game I have theoretically purchased, in order to guarantee it will run properly. Which is nice and all, but honestly, a capable gaming computer costs less to put together than a year of the broadband internet necessary to run OnLive, so that’s not exactly compelling value.

    As an unlimited play rental bundle for a low monthly fee, it does become rather more tempting. The question then becomes: can they secure the licenses they’d need to have an interesting rental package, and (at least in the US), will it compete with Gamefly, which is currently testing their own unlimited play PC rental package at (at least for now) no extra cost over their existing console rental service?