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access_time May 22, 2012 at 6:00 AM in Features by Ramon Aranda

Making the Case for OnLive

I must admit that back in 2009 when OnLive was first revealed at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, I was skeptical.  In fact, I was so skeptical that I told a few co-workers that I just didn’t see how a cloud-gaming service could work.  I mean how could it? How would OnLive be able to provide high quality gaming over an internet connection, especially if hundreds if not thousands of people could potentially be playing at once?  I thought it was doomed to fail.

Well it’s 2012 and OnLive is still alive and kicking.

Of course, when gamers start talking about platforms, it’s rare you hear OnLive brought up in the conversation.  Perhaps it’s the fact that the platform falls somewhere in between console and PC, what with all the options it offers.  It’s no secret that OnLive runs its vast library via PCs, but gamers have the option of using either a client on their PCs, the MicroConsole Adaptor, Android smartphones and even on tablets such as the iPad.  OnLive also recently announced plans to integrate its service into Vizio’s newest line of smart TVs and media players.

The beauty of the service is that it lets users rent games or outright buy them, while also offering demos of each of its games.  Titles range from older classics such as Crazy Taxi and Altered Beast, to more modern titles such as Deus Ex: Revolution, L.A. Noire and MLB 2K12.  While not offering every latest game, it offers up just enough to give players a nice variety to play.  There’s also a monthly plan that allows you to play any game within its package in case you don’t want to commit to any particular game with a purchase.

From what I’m told from OnLive reps, the service is doing quite well, and although specific numbers on their install base weren’t provided, they assured me that their user growth is very healthy.  Surely there appears to be a good amount of users, but why is the service not getting much publicity these days?  Unless there is some change in hardware, such as when the universal wireless controller was released, the service isn’t on as many discussions as one would imagine there’d be.  That seems odd considering the amount of options and features the service provides, bordering on current-gen and next-gen.

Let’s look at some specifics shall we?

OnLive is all about on-demand gaming.  You can plan any available title anywhere you go, so long as you have an internet connection.  You can play your games on your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone, which clearly represents cross-platform play.  Sure, it’s not letting you game against players on their Xbox 360s, Wiis or PlayStation 3s, but it’s more options than either console offers.  Not only can you play your games at home or on the go, but the saved data comes with you – it’s all on the cloud.  You want social interaction? You got it.  Chatting is there, publishing your accomplishments on Facebook is possible, and you can make video clips of your best moments and share them among OnLive users for all to see.

One very interesting thing to keep in mind is that the service is able to handle next-gen gaming, as they’re run on PCs, so say three years from now, those games can still run on the service, without the need for users to swap hardware.  Think about that – a platform that updates itself.

Sure, OnLive isn’t perfect either – you’ll want to have high speed internet to really get the best performance, the newest games aren’t always out right away while some won’t likely make it on the service.  Still, it’s hard not to root for a platform and service that aims to provide gamers with easy access to a growing library of titles while being relatively inexpensive.  Still in its infancy, there’s a lot the company can do in the coming years and if they can increase the availability of top-tier games on launch day, there’s no reason they can’t be a major threat to the console market.

Some Of My Favorite Titles Available Via OnLive

  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Deux Ex: Human Revolution
  • Braid
  • Saints Row: The Third
  • Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
  • World of Goo
  • Limbo
  • Bastion
  • L.A. Noire
  • Borderlands
  • Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition
  • Unreal Tournament III


  • neonnocturne May 22, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Honestly I was the biggest skeptic of this. Mainly due to the fact that high speed internet wasn’t readily available in my area and my PC was pretty worn on years. Within a year though I gave OnLive a try. Ended up playing Borderlands GOTY edition on my Netbook and trying out demos for Batman: Arkham City, Deus Ex Human Revolution, and Saints Row The Third. I had found my solution (as temporary as it may) to my PC gaming woes and is definitely considered when I hear of a new game being released.

    • Ramon Aranda May 22, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      I had started using the PC client and I dug it, but was really sold me was the microconsole….it helps that I have high speed internet via XFINITY but when I had this large library of games all of a sudden to play on-demand, I knew it was gold.

      • unlimitedlives May 22, 2012 at 10:21 PM

        I’ve been on the fence about it since day one but I could see that in the future…we’d eventually be using this service or something else that comes out which is why I’m sorta looking forward to the rumored Valve console.

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