OnLive On-demand Gaming Service Review

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abrucewatson

My ISP has implemented monthly bandwidth quotas.  While they are fairly generous, they might not stand up this level of usage.  Any clue as to the actual throughput used in an hour of play on this service?

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Phat_Jethro

Exactly my thoughts. Especially in Canada where all the large ISP's are pushing up speeds but dropping monthly caps to screw everyone on their overage fees. The way it's going is if you run your connection full out you will use up your *monthly* cap in less than a day. These services will not work in Canada as ISP's just want you to use your Internet connection for email only.

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Gezzer

It's an interesting concept, and an obvious next step in the whole "cloud" computing movement. I think that's my biggest problem with it. I haven't really bought into the "cloud", and most likely won't. I mean it's a great idea for either the business world or the casual user, but I don't like it's downside. You give up a lot of control over your data when you use a "cloud" solution. It's one thing if it's pictures you still have stored locally, or the "cloud" company you use has a contract with you or your employer in regards to who owns the data you create and what recourse you have if that data is lost. But there's an element of trust to "cloud" computing that I'm not willing to use. Too many internet concepts and companies have gone belly up over the years to make me feel it can't happen to whoever I trust with my data as well.

Another problem I have has to do with the pricing model as stated. Netflix has done well for one reason, nine bucks a month for all the videos you can watch. It's pricing model is such that any inconvenience involved with mailing wait times is far out weighed by the cost of the service. Now that they are going to enter the streaming market, wait time becomes a moot point. But with Onlive's monthly membership fee and prices that seem to be on par with the cost of hard copy versions, rented or purchased, why bother? I don't currently use a download service for my music and most likely never will for the same reason. Most sites price per song is on par with what a CD would cost. So I'd rather buy the CD, rip it, and save the CD as a back up.

Lastly, title selection is pretty thin right now, and looks like it will suffer from the same user base problems most resellers run into. Unless Online can show a massive amount of clients I'm pretty sure most game publishers will take a wait and see attitude. And on the flip side I'm sure most potential clients will do the same in regards to content. Even with a free sign up period I'm sure many won't bother, I know I won't.

Now I'll admit I bought Starcraft II and am a Steam user. I'd rather buy hard copy as I did with SC2 but Steam does have a great selection and very good prices on games if your willing to wait. As for the data I get when I buy a Steam game it's still on my HD, and if Steam every goes under (like that will happen) they have stated on numerous occasions that the system has built into it a method to remove the server check. What happens if Onlive bombs?

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armada439

Is Onlive singleplayer only or something?  Prolly good too, multiplayer would suck hard with those kinds of pings. 

What an epic fail product, turning PC games into console trash.   720P Youtube quality, hah!

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immersive

I hate there way of charging there customers and thats all I can say about that.

Why not treat it like a mobile lan center? Make people buy hours of game time.

Say I buy 20 hrs of game time. Give me access to every game you have and let me distribute my hours between the games.

Credits stay with you forever until you spend them on a game, after that they expire 1 month from the date spent.

On top of that you could have Copper, Silver, Gold credits.

Copper = Crap games

Silver = Older but good games

Gold = New Games less then a month old

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Peanut Fox

For me, the question is why go with Onlive over a $150 XBox 360.  What you lose in portability you gain in a better gaming experience.  At this point there is a huge back log of low priced 360 titles to be snacked up on the cheap.

My experience with Onlive is that it's similar to having to pay a cover charge at a gentleman's club, and once you get inside the entertainment is a bit below the bar. 

 

They tried this back in the 90's.  Remember SEGA Channel?  We'll see if this can have a bigger impact.

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aviaggio

Cost. The cost of that XBox 360 = 3 yrs of OnLive. 5 day rentals are around $10, half the cost of most XBox budget titles. And of course there are the PC only games you can't get on XBox.

I admit my biggest dislike of the service is the pricing model. I don't think I would ever outright buy games at full price, but I like the 3 or 5 day rental option.

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David522

I have a group of friends they usually hang out on Teamspeak and we all like to play multiplayer games with eachother. Most of the issues we have is all finding a game we all have and like.

So if this was setup to where I could pay $20 a month and have access to any game they have. Then they could keep $5 or whatever of the $20 and put the rest into whatever game your playing and divide based on the time. For example if you play game 1 for 15 of your 30 days then that game would get $7.5 that month and the other game you play for the other 15 days would get the other $7.5. The game makers would get $ based on what and how much you played that game. The $5 or whatever would go to onlive.

Would be easy for you and all your friends to get on and try out some new multiplayer game to see if you all liked it. Would make gaming much more fun for our group. 

Would be cool also if they included MMO's and such. But in order for my idea to work correctly they would have to have almost every single game released in the past 5 years or so on onlive.

 

 

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highsidednb

For the longer review, check out Eurogamer's article

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-vs-onlive-article

6 in-depth pages plus plenty of video examples which demonstrate Onlive to be a blurry POS.  Enjoy.

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aviaggio

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highsidednb

Ok, so you post four superficial reviews, all which don't even come close to the eurogamer article.  Did you read the eurogamer article?  Did you watch the demo videos?  

The Tom's HW article is short and the end conclusion is that Onlive won't replace the author's high-end gaming rig.  

 

As far as tring Onlive?  Already have.  A month ago.  Not impressed.  End of story.

I'll go back to playing games I own on a fast rig with better graphics and less lag.  

Jackass.  Carry on.

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aviaggio

Why so much hate dickwad? If you don't see it worth your while then just say "hey, I don't think it's for me" and move on. I couldn't possibly think any less of you than I do now anyway.

And yes, I read the Eurogamer article when it first came out. And my impression is the same. They go in from a hardcore gamer point of view and come out with the typical hardcore gamer response. But guess what? IT'S NOT FOR HARDCORE GAMERS. Why can't you seem to get that thru your thick skull? Clearly, if you have a high-end rig OnLive is not going to be a replacement for that. It's not supposed to be. It's not advertised to be. And NO ONE is suggesting it should be.

It would be like Luxury Car Aficionado Magazine reviewing a Hyundai Sonata and <shock!> saying how it pales in comparison to the top of line BMW. Oh rly?

Seriously dude, reality check. I have a gaming rig. I have consoles. And even I can see how this is a good thing for the gaming industry. Sorry you're too closed-minded to see it too.

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routine

This is great for a not-terribly fast HTPC!

Personally, I'd rather rent for a service like this... or unlimited gaming for a membership fee -- ala Netflix.

 

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Bucket_Monster

I have a few problems with OnLive. First, you get charged a monthly fee, AND have to buy and rent games on top of this. This isn't a whole lot different than Xbox Live, except for one gigantic difference... you actually own your games on Xbox. And of course Xbox doesn't require a Live subscription just to play single player games. When you "buy" a game with OnLive, you are just basically purchasing the rights to play that game until OnLive discontinues it or goes under.

I could see this working well as a rental type service, however I wouldn't pay a monthly fee AND pay for renting the games on top of that. If they want this to catch on they need to implement a method similar to Netflix.

Also, minor quibble with the article. Hours to download a game on Steam? Really? It doesn't take long at all to download games on Steam unless you're actually still using dial up.

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aviaggio

It does if it's a newly released game. Took 2 days for me to get Alien Swarm.

And really, is $5 a month too much for you? Most people gladly pay $4.17 a month for XBox Live, and what really do you get for that? Also remember if your computer can't otherwise play these games that $60 a year is a lot less expensive than buying a new computer, or even a console.

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Bucket_Monster

The problem with comparing it to Xbox Live is that you don't need Xbox Live to play single player games. Xbox Live is for the multiplayer component and for the most part, optional.

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aviaggio

My point is that you're willing pay $50 a year for an extremely limited service on your XBox. And what happens if you buy a multiplayer game and then decide to stop paying for XBox Live? It's really not all that different if you think about it.

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Jox

You either have a really poor connection, or you're using a wi-fi NIC (which is essentially the same thing).  I got Alien Swarm in about 30 minutes.  What it ultimately comes down to is if you have the bandwidth to use OnLive effectively, you have the bandwidth to download anything from Steam in under an hour.  Anyone who thinks OnLive won't be plagued by the same issues regarding new releases is kidding himself.

As for the pricing scheme - I'd pay a flat rate for unlimited access to their game library, but I would not pay an access fee AND a purchase fee for games that I really don't own.

-Jox

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aviaggio

It wasn't me, it was Steam. I tried to grab it when it was first released. It took almost 2 hours of repeatedly trying to download it before it would even start because the servers were getting hammered. And when it did it was trickling away at like 50kb/s.

I'm sure part of it was that it was a free game. But nonetheless it shows that Steam doesn't always deliver quickly. I seem to remember having issues back when they had that massive 4th of July sale. Downloads were also very slow.

Let me ask you this tho. Have you ever bought a game, played it, and then sold it? How is that any different than "fee for games that I really don't own"? And what about Steam. Do you really "own" those games? Sure, they're on your HD, but if the service were ever to fold (not that I think it would) you'd never be able to play them. So that's ok? I'm not sure I understand the dichotomy.

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aviaggio

I really like OnLive and see the massive potential it offers. I know a lot of MaxPC users relentlessly criticize it without realizing it's not a service designed for the hardcore gaming crowd who has no problems upgrading their hardware every year.

As the article states it's meant for people who don't have gaming computers -- either older machines without a discrete graphics card or a laptop/netbook.

"When we bought Lego Harry Potter, for instance, we were informed that the game would be available for us to play until at least June 29, 2013. What happens after that? Did we really buy the game, or did we simply sign a contract for a 36-month lease?"

Yeah, it's basically a 36-month lease. But seriously, how many 3-year old games do you go back and play? Most people will play the game out and then sell or shelve it. I think it's a non-issue for a lot of people, except those that try to make a big deal out of something that isn't. Granted, I don't think it's right they charge the same price to lease it as it does to buy it. That being said, another good use of the service is for the demos and rentals. If you don't like the idea of spending top-dollar for a game lease, just go for the 5-day rental and play it out. Hell, even if you need 10 days to finish it it's still a fraction of the full price.

As more and more game companies move away from offering free demos something like this could really fill the gap. I'd be more willing to do a $10 OnLive rental to try out a game rather than spend $20 to get the "official" demo from the developer.

There's a whole lot of potential here to open up PC gaming to vast audience that's previously been shut out due to the high cost of capable hardware. More people playing PC games = a very good thing. We should be embracing the technology, not denouncing it.

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Bucket_Monster

Good games I actually go back and play. In fact I'm going to start up Wind Waker for Gamecube here again soon. And Metroid Prime. Plus, even if you don't go back and play them, at least you still own the actual product. I realize PC games don't really benefit from used sales anymore because of online activation being the norm, but for consoles, I could sell off my games on amazon or ebay if I so chose, getting some of my money back.

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aviaggio

Which is why I suggested using the rental option instead. You save a lot of money and don't have to be bothered selling the title later.

 

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highsidednb

Review or PR piece for Onlive?  Really folks, I expect better journalism than this.  You fail to answer some critical questions:

1 How far is where you tested the game from a major trunk?  How far is it from an Onlive server farm?  Without being able to work across vast distances and without having the lanes free on the internwebsuperhighwaytoobs, Onlive will never grow.    

2 You gave almost no details of the graphics.  Anti-aliasing?  Filtering?  Shaders? etc.  You can't make any comparison until you give more detail.  1280 x 720 doesn't mean anything.

3 What about multiplayer games?  The two titles you discussed were single player.  

4 A system like Onlive will only work in a priotitized traffic model.  At what extra cost to the customer will Onlive be able to guarantee smooth gaming?

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aviaggio

1.) Doesn't really matter. When you go to use the service they will inform you if your connection isn't good enough. So you'll never be suckered into paying for something you can't use.

2.) It depends on the game. In my own personal opinion I'd say in general the quality is somewhere between a console and high end video card. It can vary depending upon the nature of the game.

3.) No idea, why don't you go to their website and see?

4.) None. OnLive says they've partnered with most major ISPs across the country in order to provide a smoother experience. What this exactly entails is anyone's guess. I can tell you the system will automatically adjust its bandwidth based on your connection. So if your latency gets too high you'll get a notice. If your bandwidth drops off the quality of the graphics will also drop in order to keep things moving. Of course if you have a flaky connection you'll probably have a lot of problems.

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highsidednb

1 It does in fact matter as far as the growth of Onlive's customer base is concerned. It's not about being suckered.  My point has to do with the growth of the company.

2 Your reply is basically the same thing as the article: it's all vague.  Shouldn't a review have more than just vague plattitudes?

3 Oh, I see, well then I shouldn't read Max PC period because it's all up to me.  Why bother reading this article when it's up to me, the Max PC subscriber to do all the investigative journalism myself...for free.

4 Now that's something every gamer wants.  To be interrupted during a really exciting part of the game to be told that your bandwidth is causing lag and then the quality of the graphics will drop to fit the bandwidth.  Doesn't sound like a great experience to me.  

 

A final point-to all of the readers who buy into the "this is great! I don't have to upgrade my PC all the time to play the latest games!!1111!!"  You're probably not serious gamers nor are you serious PC enthusiasts, which makes me wonder why you're even visiting the site.  Frankly, people like you don't need to play games on a PC.  You should stay on Wiis or Xbox's or rather, be part of Onlive's core demographic.  In other words, enjoy your rented pyramid scheme at variable quality and frame rates.

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aviaggio

Wow, you're a fucking jackass. I'm sorry that you're too fucking pigheaded to see the value in a service that allows almost anyone to play current games on virtually any hardware. Just because you don't see the appeal in not having to spend $1000+ for a gaming rig, doesn't mean others won't.

And because I see how this could turn into a valuable service that could help support the PC gaming industry that somehow means I'm not a real gamer or PC enthusiast? Is your head so far up your ass that all you see is your own shit? 

Oh, did I mention you're a jackass?

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highsidednb

Go home son.  Your mom just told me she has to get out of bed and cook your dinner.  

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aviaggio

Wow, now that's some witty repartee. Woooweee, can't hold a candle to that.

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highsidednb

That's rather rich considering that you're the one who started with the name calling.

 

You seemed to have reduced my points to argue the classic copout of "Hey man, if you don't like it and it's not for you then stay out of the comments section!"  

 

Here's the crux of it:

I don't think this review is up to the quality level I expect as a subscriber to Maximum PC.  The rating of 7 seems a little too nice.  Not only that, there's nothing to compare Onlive to (e.g. it's not another cpu heatsink) so why should it be treated like any other product?  Either compare it to gaming on the 0-point rig, through Steam, retail, etc. or don't give it a number rating.  Seems kind of pointless to me.

The claims made by Steve Perelman throughout the development of Onlive have been ridiculous.  The current performance of Onlive confirms this.  While Onlive may boast (for the sake of attracting capital) that they are going to be dominant in the future of video games, many people aren't convinced.  Will it fill a supposed niche market for casual gamers?  Probably.  But those people also have Wiis, ipads, Xboxes, etc. You'll probably see Onlive in hotel rooms for a while and maybe in some living rooms but you won't see it taking over the world in the near future.  

 

 

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aviaggio

And on most of this I agree with you. I don't think anyone outside of OnLive would call them the dominant future of gaming. But to say the service is useless and serves no purpose is not valid either. When Netflix first came out a lot of people denounced it, saying how flawed the model was and how people weren't going to want to wait days to get their movies. And now it actually *IS* one of the dominant players, if not THE dominant player because they acknowledged their shortcomings and have aggressively worked to improve them. I expect the same of OnLive.

And what else are you going to compare it to? There is nothing else like it. So you have to look at it in a sort of singular fashion. Yeah, it's a little like Steam, it's a little like XBox Marketplace, it's a little like Gamefly, but it's not really a lot like any of them. It's unique.

The rating I assume is a measure that tries to qualify how well it does what it's intended to do. So it's not a rating compared to other services like it, it's a rated based solely on how well it does what it claims to do. I think a 7 out of 10 is fair as long as you fully understand its niche. It's not going to appeal to everyone, just like how Netflix doesn't appeal to everyone (I only know one person that uses it). And I know a lot of people who absolutely despise Steam ("why would I ever buy a game without getting a box, manual, and disc?"), yet it's become another dominant force over the years. And while I would never pay full price for a game on Steam, I frequently will buy cheap indie games or big titles that are on sale.

It's really no different for OnLive. I can see it being used to demo games before you buy them. I can see it being used as a rental service when there's something you want to play but don't want to buy outright. I can see it being used by college students (and others) who only have a laptop and can't afford a gaming PC. And I can see it being used by Mac owners as an easy way to play PC games without having to deal with the expense and setup of Bootcamp. Yes, having the game on your computer and playing it locally will almost always be a better experience if you have the appropriate hardware. But a lot of people don't, and before OnLive have been completely shut out of the PC gaming market. Now they no longer have to be. Really, it's a good thing. It's never going to replace Steam or buying boxed games, but it's a complementary alternative when those options aren't viable.

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