OnLive has been available to users for over a month now. During this time, I have tested out the service in many different scenarios: from a high-end PC, to a five year old laptop, to both desktop and laptop Macs. Put simply, the service works.
Oddly enough, it was the service working that many questioned prior to OnLive’s release. While the technology is held back by the poor infrastructure that is United States internet, it manages to utilize new compression technology to make up for it. But is the fact that it works enough? Join me as I provide both a written and video review of the OnLive service.
For those that have been living under a rock since its announcement during the Game Developers Conference in 2009, OnLive is a service that streams games to your PC or Mac. The games themselves are run on OnLive servers and the important stuff, video and audio, are streamed to your computer.
While lag is the biggest concern for many, I can assure you that it is not that bad and quickly becomes something you find yourself adjusting to without issue. The performance of this service, in both video quality and lag, will depend on your internet connection speed as well as your distance to OnLive servers. Currently OnLive offers three server locations that cover a majority of the United States. Fortunately for me though, there are DC servers located close to where I live.
What this service offers is a whole lot of give and take. Sure the technology is groundbreaking and may be the future of gaming, but the limited library of games and the current subscription model is what holds OnLive back from having a large impact in PC gaming. For fifteen dollars a month you are given the pleasure of just using OnLive’s service and purchasing or renting games. While your subscription is active, you are free to watch others play games, purchase or rent games for yourself, or even play 30 minute demos of any game available. Should you deactivate your subscription, you lose all access to anything you have purchased.
Running servers for this is certainly not cheap. It is because of this that OnLive has to utilize a subscription based payment model. However, when paying a subscription fee and having to pay full retail price for a majority of the games, gamers quickly question the advantages of the service. Again, its that give and take, with a whole lot of take that does nothing more than reassure gamers that their consoles are in fact worth the investment.
What it boils down to is whether or not you fall into OnLive’s audience. If you aren’t able to afford a PC that can run some of these games, are a Mac user that refuses to use BootCamp, or are simply tired of having to upgrade your PC every couple of years, this service may be for you. For everyone else, it is best to evaluate what OnLive offers and determine how it will positively impact your gaming experience.
Again, OnLive works, the technology is impressive, but with the cost of monthly subscription and full retail price on games, the appeal drops drastically.