OnLive Drops Subs Model

Cloud gaming is the future! No, it is. It really is.
Cloud gaming service OnLive has been, well, live for a while now. Yesterday it was announced that once the first free year is up, it will remain free, with no introduction of a subscription on top of the cost of the games, as I believe a number of you predicted when this was originally announced.

We’re excited because this opens the door for the OnLive Game Service to be used by everyone whenever they feel like it, whether for playing a full game on OnLive, or for just instantly playing a demo before buying a game for a console or a PC. Or, even for people just wanting to spectate games in the Arena or friend other gamers. Whatever interests you in gaming, OnLive provides it instantly, without complexity or hassle.

I’ve still not seen this tech in action. Any American readers actually using this yet? Any impressions?


  1. Longrat says:

    I thought that this entire thing was just still in the form of a concept and wasn’t really released anywhere. I’m genuinely surprised that it’s been out for a few months!

    • Dhatz says:

      I’m not as surprised, since it cannot run on linux(ubuntu), which is the only thing I need them to improve(apart from availability from czech republic, but that might be tested on my home Windows XP PC this evening, hopefully my net would be fast enough,as we have superior 94/32Mbps at our school Linux machines)

  2. elyscape says:

    I’ve still not seen this tech in action. Any American readers actually using this yet? Any impressions?

    When I first heard about OnLive, I was very skeptical. Then it went live and I got to try it out. I must say, they delivered in a big way. It is extremely impressive. That being said, not all of the features they’ve talked about are set up (e.g. freezing a game for later resuming, like save states).

    • Giant, fussy whingebag says:

      Frightlever: That actually hadn’t occurred to me. Then again, I’d pretty much dismissed the whole thing until now. No-install demos would probably be the only thing I’d use this for.

      Then again, one of the useful things with demos is to see how the game runs on your PC. Still not sure I’d use it.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      I used it to play some demos. It wasn’t bad, but I don’t know, weird stuff kept happening to me where I would lose connection, and it made playing anything for more than 20 minutes or so really hard. Not sure my experience is universal.

  3. Fede says:

    This is a blog post by Wolfire (Overgrowth, Lugaru) about it.

    • James G says:

      Wow. I had been sceptical, but from the sounds of things they’ve got a passable service. I can’t see it replacing my gaming PC any time soon (ignoring the fact its not available in the UK yet), but I can certainly see using it for demos, or possibly for renting titles that I’m a bit unsure about / can be completed in a short time.

    • Tom says:

      i live in the uk and it works just fine for me.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah I was just trying this out on my netbook and I live in the UK,. Although the response time is too slow due to being so far from the servers it’s not completely awful, makes me very optomistic about how responsive it will be on launch.

      My big issue is that the resolution is very low. The graphics look like that of a mid to low range PC which is not as nice as expected.

    • James G says:

      Oh. I had just assumed it was US only for some reason. Will check it out shortly then.

    • James G says:

      Ahh, doesn’t work here. Complains that the latency is too high. Oh well.

  4. loGi says:

    Wow didn’t even know this is live. Is it any good?

  5. K says:

    I’d prefer a decent monthly fee and no price on games instead. If I pay 49.99 a month, the games industry gets more money from me than if I pay 49.99 per game, therefore it’s win/win.

    • Rich says:

      Except that their model was pay a monthly subscription for access to demos, movies etc. and anything you’ve bought/rented, plus having to pay to buy/rent the game itself.

      What interests me is that without the subscription model, does that mean we can all access their demos. As someone said further up, being able to try a demo without having to download and install it is a plus. Although, it’ll tell you nothing about how well the full game would work if actually installed and run locally, which for me is one of the main reasons for having demos (my PC is too old to take it on faith).

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Who is that stupid, to pay for a game, that he doesn’t even get a copy of?? And full price too, or what?
      I would call that fraud. But hey, selling software always is fraud. Since you sell something that can not be owned, as if it were a product. A product is defined as something you also must be able to own. Otherwise it’s a service. (Or nothing at all.)
      So to make money with software, and stay legitimate (or legal without changing laws to some perverse lie), you have to sell it as the service it is. And open-source it. Obviously. (Hell, everything is open machine code anyway.)

    • Rich says:

      Well, actually when you buy software, you buy a license, i.e. you’re licensed to use it in a certain way. I think with OnLive it’s worded as rental, which is guaranteed for a finite period measured in years.

    • bob_d says:

      @ BAReFOOt: I was completely skeptical when this was announced. The monthly subscription PLUS the costs of buying games really made it a non-starter as far as I was concerned, as it meant that as soon as you stopped paying the subscription fee, those games you “bought” disappeared. Now it’s not much different from “buying” games off Steam – as long as the service is being offered (and the company hasn’t gone under) you can play your games. Of course, since OnLive is a start up, they may implode next week for all I know. (And I have no idea where they’re going to get the income they need to keep the servers running without charging a monthly fee…)
      The interesting thing about the service is that it’s extremely portable – in theory any internet-connected device could potentially be a conduit for playing these games. They have a demo running on the iPad(!), for example.

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s radically, irredeemably different from Steam: all the files, everything that is happening, is happening on a remote machine that you have neither direct access to nor control of. That means no modding, no backing up your saved games, no offline play, no anything that makes PC gaming PC gaming. It is hideously anticonsumer. I really, -really- hope they flame out quickly and don’t start an industry trend.

      That said, if they’d dumped the per-game fee and kept the sub, they’d be in an excellent position to give PC gaming the piracy-immune rental service it has needed lo these many years.

  6. Cole says:

    I messed around a bit with it tonight, it’s sort of impressive what they’re doing with the tech, the video is not terribly hi-res and there is a slight delay from when you do something and the game reacts. The delay isn’t terrible, but is particularly noticeable when you are using a mouse in a menu or it’s a fast-paced game. The game selection is pretty limited and leans towards games that move to quickly to be easily streamed. I can really see this in the future being pretty great if they would get some turn based games on there, which is the usual assessment of the service as far as I can tell.
    Also paying full price for a game on there would feel a little absurd, but I do own a computer that could run the games on their at a higher resolution than they stream so I suppose me using the service at all would be a bit silly.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Lol, good luck getting any kind of high-score in multiplayer, competing against anything other than a player with a gamepad. ^^

      Do you know how you double your kill/death ratio in games like Counterstrike?
      Raise the FPS from 30 to 60!
      I found this out, when playing in a team in a league. You would think it wouldn’t make a difference. Because 30 fps already runs seemingly smooth. But it makes a crazy lot of a difference!
      Same thing with input lag! Which is even more evil, since you don’t notice it, until it’s gone! That’s why you should never use a wireless mouse for anything other than round-based games.
      30 fps, LCD lag (up to 250ms!), and wireless lag (same), and you’re done. Especially on a LAN.

    • DrGonzo says:

      That’s very true. Though Onlive is in no different a situation to consoles. They seem pretty successful, it seems people play games for fun rather than to be competitive.

      Though I’ve always been amazed that they do have competitions in Halo. How can you possibly have serious competitions over a game that has auto aim?

  7. mrmud says:

    From the videos I have seen there also seems to be quite a bit of compression artefacts in scenes where there is alot of movement between frames.

  8. Ravenger says:

    This will never work in the UK unless they partner with ISP’s and the bandwidth doesn’t count towards your monthly cap/download allowance.

    I could probably get about half-an-hours worth of gameplay out of On-Live in the early evening before Virgin media throttled my connection down to a level where it’s impossible to use the service.

    • Carra says:

      Same here in Belgium. As long as we have these 30 à 50 gb caps these services aren’t viable without the ISPs consent.

    • K says:

      Whoa, caps? We Swiss only get ripped off horribly on mobile pricing (50$ for an iPad flatrate with 3 GB cap), SMS (upwards from 10 euro-cents), but at least not on high-speed internet.

    • UW says:

      Yeah.. Virgin’s caps used to drive me insane. Fortunately there 50mbit service doesn’t cap you at all, so I jumped on that as soon as it was available.

      Still, tough to justify the cost for most people. I couldn’t really be without it now, though.

    • UW says:


    • John Peat says:

      OnLive have already begun to work with BT as I understand it.

      link to{f74b827a-e7b2-4be9-b77e-923b6e001b81}

      Despite the lag (which whatever else they say they CANNOT eliminate) I reckon this does have a place BUT their initial approach to ownership/pricing was so far from realistic that I wonder if this isn’t more an act of desperation.

      They have an opportunity to do ‘game rental’ properly here – to reward the games which are played the most etc. etc. – but they seem keen just to charge a full (unrealistic) retail price for everything (even tho you don’t own it).

    • yves torres says:

      Hey K

      Another swiss boy? nice! ;) greetings fellow cheese muncher!

    • K says:

      I don’t think I qualify as “boy” anymore ;)

    • yves torres says:

      so you’re a girl? ;) just kidding. Neither do I but it was more intended along the lines of “ma boi”, “my homie”, “ma bru”, “my brother”, “duuuude”, “my cousin” and uhm, yeah, along those lines anyway …

      anyhoo, nice to know there’s a like minded fellow countryman in the room.

    • Delusibeta says:

      I’ve also heard that they’ve partnered up with a Belgian ISP as well.

  9. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    The fact that it can run games on your computer you otherwise might not have access to (for Linux and Mac gamers) is actually a pretty big deal. I’ve suddenly become far more interested in this type of thing.

    • Delusibeta says:

      Apparently, it’s possible for the publishers to prevent Macs (and presumably Linux) to play their games (apparently Mass Effect is affected, see Wolfire blog post link above).

    • Rich says:

      I believe you, but can’t honestly see any reason why anyone would want to do that.
      Actually, maybe if they were outsourcing a port and didn’t want to cut into its market… but that would be an unbelievably dickish thing to do.

  10. Player1 says:

    i read comments about the hardware you need and that it actually isn’t as easy as advertised. It seems that you need at least Shader 2.0 , which is Geforce 6 and above, and at least 5Mbps downstream, which in many countries still isn’t standard. That’s quite a lot to be honest. I would barely meet those requirements.

    • Stijn says:

      Pretty much any graphics card nowadays supports Shader Model 2, including those integrated Intel chipsets. It’s pretty hard to find a card that doesn’t support it.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      You mean like the onboard GeForce somethingsomething that came with my server’s mainboard? Sure, it can do shader model 2.0. But only about one frame a second! Which, in my terminology, is “it can’t”.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Well it works on my Netbook. The minimum specs should read, can you play a 720p video smoothly. If you can Onlive will work. If you can’t it won’t. They really are incredibly low specs required. I can’t believe your complaining about that too. Yes Onlive is very flawed. However, it has shown a lot of promise and has some great features. You seem to hate everything about it regardless of what it is.

      I don’t understand the hate either. If Onlive does survive it can only be a good thing for PC and games in general. I would say it’s actually far easier to use than a console and could hopefully get more people into games.

  11. yabonn says:

    “We’re excited”

    On the one hand, this is a useful marker for corpospeak bullshit.

    On the other hand, this will apparently never end.

  12. Spacegirl says:

    I had a friend get into the beta and he said the input delay made FPS or really probably any actiony-type game basically unplayable.

    We decided the product was for ppl who like to play resource-intensive turnish based strategy games on their laptops on-the-go lol.

    He doesn’t have the most awesome net connection tho and isn’t in a major city, although he’s not very far from atlanta.

    It’s possible theyve fixed the latency, but it’s gonna have to be PRETTY DARN LOW not to affect you.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      I’m sure they can “fix” the speed of light.

    • John Peat says:

      It’s worth remembering that a lot of people who might be interested in OnLive (people with non-games-capable PCs or if they every deliver their ‘console’, people with none) won’t have other games to compare theirs with.

      In other words, whilst the latency might not be ideal – a lot of people might not realise it’s as bad as you do.

      Whether there are enough such people to make this service work – is another issue entirely…

    • DrGonzo says:

      The delay online is really noticeable with a mouse and keyboard. However, plug in a controller and yout getting similar latency to playing on console.

    • DrGonzo says:

      The delay online is really noticeable with a mouse and keyboard. However, plug in a controller and your getting similar latency to playing on console.

    • adonf says:

      “resource-intensive turnish based strategy games on their laptops on-the-go”

      So do they offer Dwarf Fortress ?

    • thebigJ_A says:

      DF on Onlive? I’d get the service just for that! I love it, but it runs so slow on my pc, especially later in the game. Let their hardware handle the strain!

      It could never happen, but a man can dream.

  13. Rich says:

    Wow Batolemaeus, how much do you have to pay for a net connection that runs at the speed of light? Most people over here have to deal with all sorts of bottlenecks.

  14. SirKicksalot says:

    I remember people claiming this is just a scam and it’ll never launch.
    Many used the speed of light as an argument against OnLive, although from the start the plan was to install server farms in key locations that would cover most of USA, with the help of major ISPs.
    USA is one of the worst countries to start such a venture, with its bad infrastructure and bandwith caps. That makes its success even more impressive.

    • Tei says:

      The first and last 3D game withouth netcode prediction was Quake1 (some people call it “Netquake”). After that John Carmack did QuakeWorld, that have prediction (a lot of the movement code occurs clientside).

      OnLive can’t have any type of prediction, so is 1996 era netcode. Is probably bearable for Lan speed, but weird and hard for Internet. If you manage to have Lan speeds with Internet, then maybe this thing will work.

      Don’t be too quick to call this a success. Lets wait and see. That has always ben the mantra for most sceptics. Wait and see.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Waitaminute. Its success? What success? It just started. It still has to prove itself.
      And from what I hear – bad bad lag and bad bad compression artifacts, plus not having a copy of the game yourself – it’s a total no-go from the start.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Steam and Xbox Live don’t let you have a copy of the game either and they have been huge successes so that argument is just fail.

      As for how it works technically, it has a response time of 150ms to 200ms. Whereas console games have a response time of 133ms to 150ms in general. So it works fairly well, definitely not perfect though. But also definitely not a failure like lots of people seemed to want.

    • jalf says:

      Success? Could you let me know when they actually do cover most of the US?

      Covering the entire US might be tricky, sure, but setting up a couple of server farms to cover select areas is about the easiest scenario imaginable.

      As for how it works technically, it has a response time of 150ms to 200ms. Whereas console games have a response time of 133ms to 150ms in general.

      What, you don’t think there’s any input lag on OnLive? You have to add that *on top* of the network lag.
      Pretending that input magically and instantaneously arrives on the OnLive servers (or even on your own computer’s CPU) is just silly. It takes a good 50-100ms for your PC to register input, and *then* that has to be sent to OnLive, and *then* they have to send the resulting screen contents back to you.

      PC’s might have marginally lower input lag than consoles, but it’s still there, and it’s still noticeable, and it still adds up, especially when you *also* get network lag on top of it.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Those response times include input lag. I’m playing from the uk. Arkham Asylum was playable with a 360 controller. I must have a response time of about 350ms or more. No other game was playable in the slightest though.

    • subedii says:

      So how do multiplayer games pan out?

      Because 200ms of input lag + 200 ms of regular lag doesn’t really sound too enticing for any online FPS really. How does MW2 online run on it?

  15. Jetsetlemming says:

    It’s not worth it if you can run the games locally- their game prices don’t even come close with competing with steam sales, PSN sharing, used sales, etc. But I suppose if you’re absolutely determined to spend your money on software instead of hardware, and have really nice internet, it’s… passable. Personally some games were indistinguishable from local, but most were noticeably laggy, and some were really badly laggy AND ugly. RFG for example on On Live is running on mimimum settings without shadows or anything. Splinter Cell Conviction was too laggy to shoot guys unless they were standing still.

  16. Kris says:

    I liked the idea, but not the payment model and I dont think it will take off with current technology. They are already employing a number of tricks such as compression but still can’t match the lag of off line (i.e. installed on machine) or on line play with an installed copy of the game. At the end of the day, games will keep getting more complex and will require more and more bandwidth to run properly in this manner. Its highly unlikely that the web/telecom infrastruture improvements will catch up, let alone overtake such growth and the hard limits of data transfer will be with us for a while.
    I think the Gaikai model and the possibility of games with lower spec requirements e.g. web games, older games being re-released etc… is likely to be more sucessful.

    • Tom says:

      yes, games will continue to grow in complexity and hardware requirements, but so long as onlive keeps their hardware up to date, it’s not an issue. all the client needs is a stable internet connection. and since onlive uses akamai cdn, you don’t have to worry about network issues their side. akamai’s tech is incredible.
      real time video encoding is a done tech now. there’s lots of apps that happily transcode in real time so people can watch their vids via the tubes, where ever they are. seams to me that onlive’s delivery technique is essentially very similar.
      even thought there can be the odd bit of input lag, that doesn’t change the fact that this really is quite remarkable. try it. the demo’s are free.

  17. Tom says:

    I’ve tried it and can’t quite believe my eyes…
    it is the future.
    all you have to do is sign up and you can test it out yourself.
    i was playing just cause 2 batman AA on my little acer aspire one flawlesssly – everything set to high. :)

    it’s the future. without a doubt.

    • Tom says:

      was running wireless on my flakey virgin 10MB connection by the way.
      i was shocked. literally.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Yeah, everything… except for…
      • video compression
      • lack of extreme roundtrip lag
      • actually owning the game, or even having control over a single copy of it.

      The last two are 100% no-gos for me. To compare: I still avoid LCDs, because their seeming 4ms refresh time turn out to result in 250ms of general lag. (And you can’t set your resolution, and most of them still white-out in terms of gamma.)

      I can’t stand lag. The scores are horribly bad with it. But most people don’t know it, and think it’s them being bad.

    • mrmud says:

      I dont doubt its the future. But that doesnt mean it has be a good future.

      There are heaps of reasons not to use the service and right now only one reas to use it. Namely to play games on machines that cant handle them, something that is a non issue for me.

    • DrGonzo says:

      You don’t seem to understand the premise of it Barefoot. Steam doesn’t let you own the game either, and that’s no problem. This is the perfect solution for me. I have a decent pc, and a netbook. This allows me to play games with my girlfriend without spending a huge amount of money on another computer. So it doesn’t have the best response times, but with a controller it’s only slightly behind an Xbox.

      As for a 4ms refresh time causing 250ms of lag. You sound like an idiot. I switch to LCD’s when the response time dropped under 10ms and they look astounding, the monitor I’m using is far superior to any CRT I ever owned before it. I imagine you still listen to LP’s because they have ‘better quality’.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Barefoot, are you going to reply to every. single. comment. saying the same thing?

      We get it, you don’t like it. Unfortunately some of your arguments don’t hold water. As was said, LIVE and Steam have proven that the no-disc model of gaming is viable. More than viable. If we’re talking PC, a large percentage of people buy from Steam.

      And not everyone is as obsessive about lag as you. Avoiding LCDs? Really?

    • jalf says:

      i was playing just cause 2 batman AA on my little acer aspire one flawlesssly – everything set to high. :)

      Not really comparable though, because with OnLive, you get video compression artifacts on top of the nice high-quality image their servers render. So what you *see* isn’t “Batman AA with everything set to high”, it’s “everything set to high, then saved as a jpg with not-very-high quality, and then rendered on the screen”.

      That doesn’t mean it’s bad, or unacceptable, of course. Just that it doesn’t look as good as it would if you ran the same game with the same settings on your own computer.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Arkham Asylum is one of the games on Onlive that really looks lovely though. It looks gorgeous on my Netbook and main PC, it also seems playable connecting from the UK.

      It’s a shame though as it may not be representative at all. Look at Red Faction running on Onlive and it looks completely poo. Dirt 2 also seemed to have framerate issues. I’m still very excited by the service though. I hope they can get the resolution working nicely by the time it launches in the UK. I would love to be able to rent games like Arkham Asylum, I generally play them through over a weekend and never touch them again so that really, really appeals to me.

    • Archonsod says:

      “Steam doesn’t let you own the game either, and that’s no problem.”

      That’s because should anything happen to Steam, I still have the local copy of the games which I can still use via one of the numerous Steam emulators.

    • malkav11 says:

      Steam lets you mod your damn games.

    • Robin says:

      I smell a plant.

      @thebigJ_A: There is a MASSIVE difference between purchasing a game by digital download and renting access to it on a server that may or may not be accessible at any given moment.

      To recap:

      Looks like crap, controls like crap, hogs bandwidth, needs constant connection, extremely fragile, no modding or configurability, tiny catalogue, endless misinformation about capabilities. And on top of all that, hardware and game prices are so low now that the idea of buying time on a remote powerful machine is laughable.

      There is a place for playing games remotely (demos, as Gaikai are doing, and simple latency-tolerant games for set top boxes). OnLive reminds me of late 19th-early 20th C. advertising, where whatever the salesman was selling (tobacco, magnetism, sugar water) would be given a lengthy list of dubious applications. Doomed.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I don’t like being shocked. Literally.

  18. Adam says:

    I’ve had OnLive since the beta, and while I didn’t expect this to be the case, it actually works. When they first released it had some definite issues (dropping a connection in the middle of a game without an autosave, didn’t work on wifi, etc), but they have addressed most of these. It REALLY does let you play any of the games on their line-up instantly without installing. I’ve actually found it most useful for demo-ing games, because it’s really easy to just try the game out without having to download a 2 gig demo. My main problem with it is the games do NOT run on full settings — not even close, actually. It seems that part of the point of doing this was to run games on high settings, even while playing with shitty hardware. I’ve never cared that much about great graphics as long as the game itself is good, so this certainly isn’t a dealbreaker. Just an annoyance. Another nice thing is that they have kept on giving me free coupons for various reasons, so I still haven’t actually paid for anything yet :D

  19. Doc7 says:

    I’ve also had OnLive since the beta. Have to say that it works but doesn’t quite live up to its billing. Kinda along the lines of what Adam said, the games do NOT run at high detail. Indeed teh games have a pretty visible med/med-low grade quality to them. The service was billed as being able to run the highest detail settings on any machine so long as you had a decent internet connection. However, you get stuck with some pretty low-level graphics settings and some noticable lag when the graphics get intense.

    in short, it delivers a game as played on a budget level system.

  20. Axess Denyd says:

    I thought it sounded like a decent idea at first, then I got into the beta.

    I can only use it very early in the morning due to bandwidth limits (in theory, I have a 7mb connection, but it’s cable and I live in a big apartment complex, so…

    I only ever actually ran it one time. Then I discovered that you can’t buy games with it. You get a long term rental of a game on Onlive, usually for more money than I pay to buy one on Steam.

    I thought it might be useful for gaming on the netbook when I’m away from my desktop…but the only resolution it supports is “720P”…even more points away from them for listing a TC resolution for a computer program.

    All told, it isn’t usable most of the time on my connection, and when it is usable, I find it to be a horrible deal. I’ll stick with Steam for all my game purchases.

  21. spork says:

    This type of service will not be viable until the “new” internet is widespread and in everybody’s homes. By “new internet”, I mean “The Grid” being run by CERN. 10,000 times faster than broadband. When that is available, I will totally try out a cloud based, streaming game service.

    Until then? Steam all the way, baby!

    • Tei says:

      Actually the grid is a new way to use the internet. Saying The Grid is the internet is like saying The World Wide Web is the internet.

  22. irongamer says:

    I was in beta. I don’t know if it was my connection but I could feel from a tiny bit to quite noticeable bit of lag or delay playing non FPS style games.

    I don’t think I tried a FPS.

    But now that the topic is back, I’m firing up Onlive and giving it another go to help refresh my memory.

  23. Blazextreme says:

    Onlive is an epic fail lol.
    Maybe they can fix the issues out but I doubt it.

    Graphics suck and it lags way too much!!!

  24. Artist says:

    If they dont charge money they cant charge money for their “services”. Yet… lets hope it stays this way and folks dont fall for this bluff. “You dont always want what you get…!”

  25. Adam says:

    Basically it is for gamers who have SLOW computers and CANNOT play newly released games due to hardware limitations. Nothing more. It streams the game over the internet from On Live’s computers to your screen. So there IS LAG. It is very minimal, but if your used to responsive game-play that most hardcore PC gamers demand, then there is no point with On Live besides to try out a demo of a game you may be interested in, without having to download anything. You can just click on the demo/game and 30 seconds later your playing the thing. My name has a link to a review of the service from when it came out back in July.

    Positives – Graphics Rock, No downloads of ANYTHING (Besides the Onlinve Client) Perfect for gamers with slow computers. And now no fee for using the client.

    Minuses – A minuscule amount of lag that is not acceptable by seasoned gamers. Need I say more?

  26. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Oh man I was playing my obscure indie strategy game on this and my total war mods and it

    oh wait

    no I wasn’t

  27. Sagan says:

    So yeah, after I read this, I tried it yesterday (I’m near Seattle) and it is impressively convenient. Except I’m on a wireless connection and it tells me that I should please switch to a cable. Since I can’t do that, everything is very laggy. Also I am apparently at the low end of what they consider possible bandwidth. Everything was blurry and I had compression artifacts, and every now and then it would freeze and tell me that my bandwidth is just too low, and I had to wait a couple of seconds until it decided that my bandwidth might just barely be enough after all and would let me continue.

    But then again it is just awesome, that you can play the demo to any game you want almost instantly. And I think their service is set up in such a way, that the demo of a game is just the full game, except you only get to play for 30 minutes.

    And without a subscription, their prices are actually quite good. Playing a game for three days costs 5-6$. You can finish most games in three days. If my connection was better, I would try to play the new Splinter Cell through their service for 6$, because a three day pass should be enough for that game.

    So yes, I am impressed by the service. I was not interested at all when it was first announced, simply because I didn’t see the point. “My computer can handle all current games” I thought. But right now the main selling point for me would be the convenience and the cheap price. I just need to upgrade my connection to something faster and buy a patch-cable first.

    • Tei says:


      Wait.. I finnaly understand OnLive.


  28. Clinton Judy says:

    When it’s time for me to upgrade my desktop, I’ll probably take another serious look at OnLive, and if I can do anything about my ping times. I get about 50 ms of ping to their servers, which is just enough to be bothered by the lag. If you try and see results under 30 ms, I think it’s worth it, especially to try new games before buying them outright.

  29. noobnob says:

    Even though there are problems with the video quality, input lag and prices, after thinking a while about this the greatest problem is to convince publishers that this is actually a good idea. You will see that, right now, OnLive’s catalog is very weak compared to what a PC DD storefront can offer. This is going to be a tough fight on both the consumer end and the publisher/dev end.

    • Artist says:

      I remember a time when Valves catalog for Steam was very weak, too… and now? Revolution, baby! Monkeys help alot! =)

    • noobnob says:

      The situation back then was different from what we currently have: digital distribution was hardly talked about or known by the mainstream. Convenience of downloading games has proven itself to be a great commodity, and now that DD is established and there are several vendors besides Steam, it’ll be hard to convince everyone else (potential buyers, publishers, hardware manufacturers, etc. ) that videogame streaming is the future when there are known problems with input lag and fuzzy video streaming.

      OnLive is attemping to break new ground, but there are far too many dealbreaking points for most to consider. I still want to see what’ll happen to it in the coming years though, perhaps it’ll work around the problems and establish a new industry standard in the same way Valve established digital distribution.

  30. bhlaab says:

    My impressions:

    Resolution is locked at 720p, but it doesn’t even look like 720p because it is actually compressed video. It’s like playing a poorly done youtube video. With a huge amount of input lag.

    On the plus side I got to play Just Cause 2 on windows xp. On the minus side I would never want to play Just Cause 2 with desaturated color, video artifiacts, and a 100ms+ lag on mouse movement.

  31. MountainShouter says:

    Eh. I didn’t like it that much. The performance seemed to stutter (not network problems, otherwise it would have indicated) and the quality was pretty terrible, and the mouse seemed pretty slow to respond. I do like how we are able to try games and demos instantly, but that’s just about the only saving grace it had for me.

  32. LionsPhil says:

    – It is physically impossible to do this and have anything but a fuzzy, treacle-y interface. This isn’t just lacking prediction of other players; it’s not even allowing local camera movement to take effect without a round trip to the server. It is the worst kind of netcode you could possibly write.
    – This is another way to do software-as-a-service and remove your control over it. Same argument as all other 2.0 nonsense. Even worse than Ubisoft’s always-on DRM, and with Steam’s “you may never run unpatched versions even of singleplayer games, latest-or-nothing”. I’m sure publishers have massive stiffies over this, plus how you basically can’t pirate or modify (thus cutting into DLC’s turf) games if you can never get at them.

    This is a very bad thing for gamers on both solid technical and “philosophical” grounds.

  33. ScubaMonster says:

    I’d rather they actually did have a sub fee system with no cost for the games. I don’t like the idea of “buying” games that are nothing more than streaming video. But a sub fee plus buying games was completely ridiculous. Netflix lets you stream as many movies as you want (to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t ever used it). I don’t see why this should be any different. There’s no guarantee you’ll have continued access to the games you want for a long period of time. Or if the company crumbles from lack of interest. Yeah I know, you could try to point out Steam, but it would be a simple matter of cracking the Steam requirement (or Valve patching it out themselves) if Valve was going to go under. Plus, Valve is a proven and established player in the PC market. They aren’t going anywhere for a very long time, if ever.

  34. wazups2x says:

    Why OnLive is terrible:

    1) Very annoying input lag. There’s no avoiding this, there will always be a delay on the internet.
    2) 720p highest resolution
    3) Low quality video do to extreme compression.
    4) No mods
    5) No editing game configs
    6) No editing game period.
    7) Required internet connection to play
    8) Need to be close to a server and have a great internet
    9) You can no longer play games after three years of being released.

    I will never buy anything from OnLive.

    • wazups2x says:

      If you play with a controller the input lag isn’t as noticeable because you already can’t do fast precise movements. However, when you play using a mouse and keyboard the input lag is horrible.

  35. Matt says:

    My internet connection meets the requirements so I gave it a shot today and tried out borderlands. It was unplayable. The input lag on the mouse was large and caused me to over-aim constantly. The rendered visuals were ok, but the video compression turned many details into mush. Things like grass and dirt were just smears. There were also frequent visual artifacts.
    A better net connection might help with this but all I have to go on is whats available to me.
    I can see this being a demo delivery service, but it really isn’t ready to compete with local computing.

    • Matt says:

      Oh and one more little thing. In local Borderlands, I have the FOV widened. The default on OnLive feels really claustrophobic.

  36. Gosh says:

    i saw lordkat trying this service once and the input lagged beyond belief but that could have been the stream that slowed it down.

  37. Dave L. says:

    I haven’t had many issues with input lag. I’ve only tried Arkham Asylum and Borderlands on it, but both were very playable. The biggest issue is the compression artifacting does get pretty bad at times. And it’s not very tolerant of packet loss at all. On my wi-fi at home it would seize up with the ‘your connection sucks’ all the time (13% packet loss that day for some reason), but the wired connection at work works great.

    I am in Southern California, so my proximity to the data center may account for the lack of input lag.

  38. Kevbo says:

    Oh boy… Put me on the list since subs where the only thing holding me back. Sweet! I like this idea especially for a demo service but I don’t like the continuation of the ‘you own a service, not a product’ idea. The Overgrowth blog did a good story on this awhile back for a different perspective:

    link to

    • RCGT says:

      I’m seeing a whole lot of unwarranted hate about this service. It interests the hell out of me, considering my computer is a three year old laptop with OSX and I am a broke student. I don’t understand why everyone is so quick to bash Onlive. Apparently everyone here is super successful and can afford to buy a nice gaming rig every 5 years, or update their computers with new RAM, in addition to paying fifty or sixty dollars per game. And apparently they can’t handle a little lag or any settings that aren’t completely maxed out.

      What sanctimonious crap.

    • wazups2x says:


      Yes, you are right, I can’t handle an input lag. If I didn’t care about having great controls I would use a controller.

      If you would take a look at this list you would see why OnLive is so terrible.

      1) Very annoying input lag. There’s no avoiding this, there will always be a delay on the internet.
      2) 720p highest resolution
      3) Low quality video do to extreme compression.
      4) No mods
      5) No editing game configs
      6) No editing game period.
      7) Required internet connection to play
      8) Need to be close to a server and have a great internet
      9) You can no longer play games after three years of being released.

      It takes away everything that makes PC gaming so great. Heck you just as well go out and buy a console if you don’t care about any of this.

    • malkav11 says:

      I don’t really care about the technical end of things. If all it were were a way for people without the budget to maintain a decent gaming setup to play a slightly rubbishy version of modern games, I would be happy to applaud it. I’d be unlikely to use it myself because, after all, I can afford better. But it’s the ultimate fuck-you to consumer rights and it CANNOT be allowed to creep its way into legitimacy.

    • malkav11 says:

      PS: If you really can’t afford to keep pace with modern gaming, you are -far- better off sticking to older classics (like those offered by GoG and Steam) or free/indie games, all of which have very modest system requirements and pricing.

  39. Gregory Weir says:

    Only sometimes could I get a good enough connection to log in, but when I did, it ran exactly as promised. There was a slightly noticeable control lag, but not enough to mess up my experience. There are occasional visible compression artifacts, but they’re not-at-all bad. The ability to try out full games for free, and to watch other people play, is quite cool.

  40. Guildenstern says:

    Well this just got slightly more interesting. Though I don’t expect their datacenters in Russia within next 5 years, at least.

  41. rocketman71 says:

    The price is just too high. Yeah, no piracy, but also no lending, no used sales, and the moment they want they can pull the plug on you and whatever you’ve “bought”. Plus latency and the prices are not that great, even without the monthly fee.

    This is a terrible idea for anyone that loves games in the least. Hope it sinks soon.

    • Heynes says:

      I actually think the idea behind the technology is quite nice, even if this specific implementation is quite lacking right now. Ideally, this sort of thing could readily bring mass market appeal to the (non-shovelware/”casual”) PC gaming market that it ultimately never really had. You do list some valid concerns (though “no used sales” is really not so much an issue for PC games than for console ones) – of course there’s always a sense of danger when the traditional system begins to change in radical ways, but as to whether or not that really is a bad thing, only time will tell.
      Anyways, for Onlive specifically, one thing I do like is that it really does make PC game rentals viable in a legitimate manner (though personally I feel the prices are a bit high right now). I simply can’t count the number of times where I’ve bought a PC game due to hype only to be utterly disappointed somewhere down the line or complete it within such a short time that I feel ripped off from the price I’ve paid (and often these issues would not become evident within a the scope of a demo). That would be my main motivation for consider using it, provided other technical issues get ironed out over time.

  42. HyerboleUppercut says:

    I hope this and all attempts like it die a painful cancerpestilenceblistered death and burn in hellfire.

    Gaming needs to remain open, localized, moddable and independent.

    This service is a ball and chain in marketing hype format.

    Wehret den Anfängen!