According to OnLive, I was one of the lucky few to be selected in my area for the Founding Members Program which provides me with a free 1 year membership to the service, or as I like to call it, access to a closed beta. Essentially, that's what it is, and I'm all for it.
While companies like Spawn Labs and StreamMyGame are doing something similar, that is remote access to your content, OnLive is pushing for something considerably more useful and less of a hassle to set up.
Spawn Labs and StreamMyGame both provide access to content you already own which is definitely a plus however the execution of how to go about setting it all up is a bit of a hassle. The nice thing about OnLive is it bypasses that entirely by only requiring a quick download and install of their application. You don’t have to leave your console on when you leave the house with whatever game you plan to play preloaded into the disc drive or leave your gaming PC on while you rack up the electric bill.
OnLive simplifies all that by simply starting up the application choosing a game and your off. It took me no longer that 10-15 minutes from the minute I got the invite email to the time I was in playing games in OnLive. It really was and is a breeze to use. Games start up almost immediately and jumping from one to another is equally as seamless.
Let me clear some things up. I currently have an internet connection speed of 25mbps downstream and 2.5 upstream which is way above OnLive requirements and I still experience some very, very slight lag. Nothing that makes games unplayable by any means but it is definitely noticeable. If you were playing any multiplayer games that require precise movements such as FPS games or fighting games I could see gameplay being hindered somewhat however I can’t say that with a firm conviction since games like that aren’t available on the service yet. OnLive also currently does not support WiFi connections so the “portability” of it is severely limited. That along with the bandwidth requirements really limit is it’s use on a broader scale and at the moment I honestly don’t see them loosening up in that area. It’s the heart of the service.
My biggest gripe currently is the list of games currently on offer. The following statement is entirely subjective, however for me, the whole purpose of OnLive is to provide the end-user with games that would normally require an expensive gaming rig to play. Crysis anyone? The games currently available are nothing you can’t play if you don’t have an Xbox 360, PS3 or low end PC running Steam. Seriously, World of Goo? Great game without a doubt but not one I’d personally chose to showcase the service.
The user interface is not much different from what Xbox 360 does with it’s current blade system. Heck, OnLive even recommends the use of Xbox 360 gamepads specifically. The guide button brings up the OnLive dashboard as one would expect on the 360 proper during gameplay. Oh and the gamepad works flawlessly on Mac as well. FTW!!!
Pricing on games is also another big issue in that it’ll vary greatly from one game to another. Some games you can rent while others you can only buy, however you’re not actually buying the game you’re purchasing a PlayPass which provides you with unlimited access to the game for the life of your subscription. Some may take issue with that since the cost is on top of your membership which isn’t really clear how much it will be once it opens up to the general public. While some games are a full $59.99 for a PlayPass some are $19.99. I can’t justify a PlayPass for what I’d pay for a fully tangible disc I can hold in my hand. $20 seems more appropriate. If they can standardize the pricing structure across all games I think the service would greatly benefit from it but as it stands it weighs in as more of a con than a pro.
I’ll post up a video showing off the service later today. Feel free to ask any questions if I didn’t cover something you’d like to know. I’m all ears.
Also posted at Bitmob.com