Weekend Open Forum: OnLive Games on Demand -- the future of gaming or destined to fail?

By on March 13, 2010, 4:21 AM
After a year of teasing skeptics, OnLive finally announced a launch date and price earlier this week. For $14.95 a month, users will have access to demos, various social features and the ability to watch others play games. You'd expect at least a handful of full length titles to be included as well, even if for a limited time to sweeten the deal, but that doesn't seem to be the case. The platform will open with around 20 games and those will bear an additional undisclosed charge -- supposedly discounted versus standard retail pricing.

With such a limited library barricaded by a double-layered pay wall, it might be difficult to get gamers onboard the new service. Without revealing specifics, OnLive COO Mike McGarvey said customers can look forward to "original, exclusive" content from developers of all sizes, but it remains to be seen exactly what that entails.

To be completely fair, pricing for games has not been revealed yet. In our opinion, if new releases were marked down by, say, 30+% it might be easier to look past the monthly payment, though you would still forfeit a lot of control. For instance, they will always be locked behind OnLive's subscription. If for any reason you could no longer afford that fee, you would presumably lose access to your entire game library. On the other hand, with OnLive you are not expected to upgrade your PC as often, you can play your games virtually anywhere, and assuming it works as advertised, it could pose fewer hassles (no installs, driver troubles, etc). Considering that other experienced giants like Blizzard and EA have often had trouble keeping up with massive online demands when launching blockbuster titles, it will be interesting to see if OnLive can deliver a hiccup-free experience next June.

With all this in mind, and if there’s indeed a market for cloud-based gaming, is it large enough to keep OnLive in business? From what you’ve heard so far, are you interested? And if not, what would it take for such a service to win you over? Discuss.

User Comments: 65

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Guest said:

Most gamers have though xbox live at $50 a year was to much to pay. This at 14.95$ a month looks to offer the same things xbl offers on an unproven system. I will say this system is a game dev dream. It all but stops privacy, if the dev wants their gamers to move onto the next game they can just take the old one down. Using OnLive to me seems like a way to just **** yourself in the ***. I am sure if it works right it will be pretty cool but I really like the idea that I own my games.

gobbybobby said:

I think this will fail. Its overpriced and people don't have the connection needed to use it. I buy games on steam, I like that. I buy games on Xbox live, PSN. I like that. I stream Tv Via BBC I player, Sky player, and other video streaming sites. I like that. BUT I only do that when Nobody else is watchin TV. To watch Skyplayer it says u need at least 2Meg. I have 1.5 and it works fine with no cut outs so long as I only person using Internet. Streaming games. No. I will not do it. I will be shooting someone and then somebody downstairs will start watching a youtube video, downloading a PS3 demo and it will start to lag, cut out, Buffer, and FAIL.

Untill we all have high speed Internet connection, (I mean 20Mb +) it will be Right all my room mates, people in my hosue NO using the internet Im playign a game. That will be unfair and stupid. Its funny I start downloading a 15gig game on steam, it takes 20 hours. In that Time I get ''STOP LAGGING MY GAME'' AHHH stop downloading'' The very few people with un capped Internet connections with ISPs that do not have fair usage policys may get this to work. Thats a small market. This will only work in Large Towns and Citys (and maybe the lucky few who live near an Telephone Exchange)

yorro said:

This will probably work on some areas, mainly US.The concept is actually ingenious because I can see this the final solution to piracy, but they need to prove it through consistency especially if the newer games requires a powerhouse system on maximum settings.

Reloader2 said:

Is it wrong of me to hope they fail?

I just wouldn't want the future of gaming sitting in their hands. It actually scares me.

nokayapmat said:

it is doomed to fail...since most ISPs have cap limits...

unless of course you are capable of paying for a premium "unlimited" internet access (which would make you more than able to buy dvd games priced at 50-60$).

skitzo_zac skitzo_zac, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The future of gaming? Simply, NO. How many billions of dollars are invested in Hardware? Consoles, PC hardware and the distribution and marketing of games? That isn't going to die quitely.

And then there is the connection issues with streaming games, it might be fine in the US, Japan, Korea. But it will be a LONG time before I am able to stream games on my connection here in Australia.Downloading games from Steam and other digital distributors is quite a pain for me already on my connection.

Then there is the fact that I am opposed to a scheme like this, I want to own my games, well at least as much as I am able to currently. Digital distribution and DRM currently means that I am reliant on a third party being able to deliver or authenticate the content for me.

JMMD JMMD, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'll keep a slightly open mind with this but I just think it's going to fail. It seems awfully expensive for a new service that hasn't been proven. I think the latency/lag is going to be a killer for most games. If somehow performance is acceptable, this may be an option for some people.

zyodei said:

When I first glanced at this, I assumed it was some "all you can eat" deal for $15 a month, as long as you kept up the subscription. I think that could do really, really well.

But wait, what do you get? Download demos, ie "shareware" that companies sometimes PAY to distribute? Watch people play games, social features? Are you kidding me?

If that's the feature set, epic fail.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think it's the way things are going. Less CPU power at users' hands, more available remotely through a fast internet connection. Hook your phone to a TV or monitor and play a HD game. Countries are starting to make a broadband connection into a human right, and while in the short term the people who have the required connection may be the minority, I think it won't be long before that won't be the case. The terms of the service will likely adapt to what users are willing to pay, and we're already living in the age of paying for services and not products. I pay something for my phone access, I pay some more for internet access on my phone, I pay some more per month for music and TV on my phone (well, I don't, but people do). So paying some more for the ability to play high quality AAA games games on my phone won't be that strange. (And I realised that currently phones are just for spectating, but I definitely see this going that way.)

Guest said:

damm.... me and my friend thought of cloud gaming yeras ago and then someone goes and does it lol.

This looks like a great system and its defiantly going to work, maybe not for a year or so but soon. A lot of people are starting to get 10+mb broadband now in the UK and gaming doesn't use a lot of bandwidth, check when your playing a game how little it uses.

This system is also cheaper than running a high-end gaming rig at home, and will be cheaper than next gen consoles. Can't wait to see it in action and i hope it works.

windmill007 said:

There has to be something were missing here... or else EPIC FAIL!

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

I can see having to pay twice for a game the reason why this will fail. They will have to offer at least something with the monthly subscription to make this work.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Don't seem very agreable this idea, I would pay 14,99 for WoW and never ever even see a console :P

Guest said:

So for $15 a month you can

play game demos that can be downloaded elsewhere for free...

social networking that can be done on other established sites & with other programs for free...

watch someone else have a good time playing games which can be done over a person's shoulder for free...

mrtraver said:

nokayapmat said:

it is doomed to fail...since most ISPs have cap limits...

I don't think caps will come into play as much as connection speed. You are not downloading the entire game, just transmitting data back and forth like any other online game. The game itself is stored on their servers.

I do like the concept, as I would love to be able to play games on a low-end laptop, but as soon as I saw the double paywall I thought "Too much." I wish them the best of luck, but unless the games have a one-time cost of less than $10 for unlimited play for an indefinite time, I'll have stick with playing only on my desktop at home, and maybe on a gaming laptop if I win the lottery.

Badfinger said:

@epic fail and will have to go ad supported free and probably still GOOB.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

They don't offer anything new for the fee they charge, and everything they do offer you can find elsewhere for free... so... sounds like fail to me.

Timonius Timonius said:

The pricing scheme seems a little wonky to me. For 14.95 per month you'd expect at least ONE full game to be playable per month. I wouldn't pay .01 to play demos and watch oher people play. Without any more details in terms of pricing I can't really give Onlive any more attention. This will be one of my last comments about it untill they can release more usefull information.

mistashizzle said:

I signed up to try to get the 3 months free for being one of the first. There is no way they are going to get me to pay a subscription though. Anyone serious enough about PC gaming to be interested in paying a monthly fee already has a good enough computer to just buy the game from the store. Unfortunately I don't think its going to work out.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Good concept + bad pricing + limited content = fail

At least for now....

Kovach said:

I think that all this is not about improving users and gamers experience, it's all about getting piracy down to the minimum. It's all wasting of money, without results. There will be always some who will have idea, how to override the system. It's just metter of time, and, I don't like the $14.95 per month price. Why don't they all put that money that are they spending at protections and services like this and make a better games and earn money? They can't win the battle...

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Guest said:

gaming doesn't use a lot of bandwidth, check when your playing a game how little it uses.

Uh, yeah, that's cause the game is loaded on your computer. The whole point here is that the game is loaded on the server, you upload the controller commands, you download the video.

seefizzle said:

I won't be signing up for this service. It's too much money. I just spent a bunch of money building my own computer. I will play my games the way they were meant to be played. There's enough lag in games already. If I play twenty games of Modern Warfare theres bound to be two or three games in there that have some lag. I can only imagine that playing Modern Warfare on this service that the amount of lag in games will increase. And for 15 bucks a month, plus the cost of games, plus the 70 dollars a month I pay to my ISP, that's a lot of darn money to be throwing around to play some laggy games.

While in theory this service sounds like a good idea, I see it failing miserably. It was nice knowing you on live.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@Kovatch, there's no "they". OnLive is a completely different entity than the game publishers. And though I'm sure they're using the piracy argument to attract the publishers, without OnLive the publishers won't put any more money into games. And BTW most money in AAA games goes to art anyway, and I'm sure any piracy protection is a small percent of that.

Richy2k9 said:


i'll come with my usual PROS & CONS with a pinch of salt. LOLOL...


- this mean, having no media, therefore future proof & eco-friendly (i love this)

- if it works fine, no need to spend money on high end hardware or consoles

- piracy will decrease considerably

- refresh will be easily made, so old games can be put to 'bed' sooner!


- it requires high bandwidth compared to online gaming of today, for it will be like streaming SD & later on HD content, with videos it is already a big problem & it is the same content being streamed at same or different interval. with onlive games, there can be same game being streamed at different levels to different players at same of slightly different times.

- the pricing policy is bad, if i need to pay for monthly subscriptions, i'd rather pay 60$/month to play at least 1 game for & all the demos & socialize, than pay 15$ as fee & even 10$ / game for the same period, it's a matter of hour we perceive it, we can spend a lot for all options, but if it's cheaper but we have to pay each time we make a move, it's a no GO!

- no control over the game, no ownership, another psychological issue, it's not 'mine' & i'm just renting a game at a higher price.


- If it works, it will mean killing graphic chip manufacturers, i won't see why nVidia & AMD/ATI would bother release another super out of this word GPU that can handle trillions of instructions & load a whole world of textures just to have games like crysis up and running, maybe they'll build higher end pro GFX card that would be used on the onlive servers, but i doubt that the said equipments would stream what their GFX card have to render. the system must be more computational power sending data though several pipes to different users.

- the internet is still not ready for this, if somehow what i said in former posts (about google going broadband, bette ruse of fiber & the big new CISCO router that will 'change the internet' , yes if it becomes a reality soon, then this whole thing may work just fine, then the ISPs would need to remove the fair usage policy, for onlive is based on streaming, it's not like actual online gamig where fragments of information are constantly being delivered to the servers to update the status.

- it's too early, most consoles & PC have reached their apogee but not perfection in gaming, so as long as there will be development in these fields, people would keep following. for now onlive can work as an added service to existing platforms, i.e OK you can use it on all equipments with an input device, a monitor & connected to the net, if the service hit the XBLA & PSN, then you will have a possibility to have some curious or adventurous ones to adhere & who knows get stuck to it.

This is a great concept, that would be great to eliminate piracy & help save our planet, but for this to work, it should be a general service with packages fee or pay to use service (monthly package better for now) & with limited seats in order to prevent lagging sessions. I'm sure somewhere in the future, it may become a standard (10 years more), for now it should become a platform of excellence with true exclusive high level content that will attract some gamers to it, it must be free access without subscription & possibility to try a limited amount of demos free, someone signing up & paying a monthly fixed fee (even if it is around 30-50$/month) can play at least 1 new game every month with all the demos & some trailers) for now i would advise this company to pair with existing systems & make it an added service worth it, it's wont be good going on your own.

good luck to OnLive & long live the gamer's community ...


jerry53 said:

i think it will fail completely of the pc platform but bring more people in the apple fold and stuff like apple graphics cards can be probability .

insect said:

I don't know if it will fail or not, but I suspect a huge net loss the first year as they try to prove to people they are worth investing in.

Deep down, I want this to succeed so that PC games will be on-top again in all genres and play styles. The biggest limitation to PC gaming currently is hardware, which would be solved without teaching the world how to build a PC (which is insanely easy now with Plug and Play, super-available drivers, and auto-IRQ settings). Everything else for PC is on-top (multi-player, syncing, number of titles, updates, DLC, game price, performance, graphics).

Personally, unless I get to keep the games I paid for after dropping my subscription, I won't be using the service. Even then, I'd probably get a one month subscription for the discount (provided it's a lot... like 50%, since Steam already has 50% discounts on a lot of items after about a month), buy a lot of games at once, then drop it simply because hardware costs are not that substantial to me, especially these days when a good gaming rig runs you less than $1000 bucks and is powerful enough to last 2 or 3 years these days when graphics are not getting exponentially better every month.

Also, I think the connection limitations are not as limiting as people here may think. In the Washington D.C. Metro Area (D.C., Baltimore, Philly or about 10 million people) FIOS is $60/month for 25 Mbps down/10 Mbps up. If only 1 million of them subscribed, that still $15 million a month to OnLive.

drasho said:

I dunno about this... i prefer owning a pc and doing what i want on it then having to play over hte internet. I douth this will be able to run the game as well as a top of the line pc... Maybe now it gonna be able to run everygame with maximun grappic but will they be able to keep up with the upgrades?

Guest said:

.............. will fail.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I don't see it doing well with the $15/month fee, then having to rent the games on top of that.

Wolfanoz Wolfanoz said:

I think it will take a failure from OnLive for another upstart company to prosper with this idea. It's a fantastic idea, I just don't think the pay scheme is going to work.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

While I don't want OnLive to fail as a lot of money and jobs are at stack, I am not overly keen on what it has to offer and don't think it will succeed in PC gaming overall. I do sadly though see concept heading towards the future as most everything is trying to go towards cloud computing. I'll try and make my points as brief as I can so bear with me .

First as most everyone pointed out they are charging a large premium ($14.95 + tax if your state is poopy :p) for content you can get elsewhere free like demos from gaming sites and social features with Xfire/Steam/etc. They also are not offering any good incentives to reel gamers in to their service such as free rentals or games. I mean similar services such as Netflix or Blockbuster provide decent incentives with a free rental or streaming movie a month ontop of your DVD's. Though as said they have not released prices for the games/rentals, I still feel they would have to be pretty steeply discounted for anyone to seriously consider OnLive.

Secondly their is the issue of ownership, while we consumers say what we buy we own, software developers and I'm sure some gaming ones as well disagree and think we only license their work [Example]. Because of this I feel that if I BUY something through OnLive I'm just getting a permanent rental and not actual ownership, especially since if I discontinue the use of OnLive I can no longer gain access to my purchased games.

I am also skeptical about how well this service will run not only from there end but ours too. I keep reading that connections are pretty good or will be getting better. Which I guess is true if you live in New York City or any other competitive metro area. Unfortunately though not everyone lives in those cities/metros and most of the us are stuck in monopoly/duopoly provided area. And in a lot of these places major phone and cable providers are slow to upgrading there current infrastructure and focusing only on competitive areas. Some of them are even going on the offensive telling shareholders that the pay per bit model is inevitable for consumers. This does not look good for steaming content providers or consumers. And I have a feeling that sooner then later a fight between the two will happen with us stuck in the middle and in the end getting screwed.

In any case, their are a lot of things out of OnLives control that could sink them before they even get off the ground. Ontop of that from what has been released they don't seem to be providing a more consumer friendly option. As a PC gamer I am simply not interested as I feel they are taking a lot of what makes PC gaming unique and better away from us and trying to turn my PC into a dumb gaming terminal. Gaming on a PC isn't just superior because of the hardware compared to a console. That is just one part of it and I'm sure a lot here at TechSpot love upgrading and messing around with there hardware & settings. PC Gamers also have huge amount of CONTROL over our content. We have the ability to mod, map, skin and create all types of innovation. One could probably even make the argument that if OnLive succeeded it could completely kill off PC gaming innovation. And I'm sure many of you here can think of amazing mods that are better and more creative then some AAA games out there. Some mods even went on to retail in sequels after being so successful.

So while there are many benefits to OnLive such as gaming anywhere you have a fast connection, no need for hardware upgrades and ease of use. There are also an equally if not more disadvantages such as high price, loss of control, no ability for customization and lastly turning your gaming PC into a console...which is going to be a hard seller considering many of us PC game to get AWAY from consoles and have that uniqueness.

thatguyandrew92 said:

Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo won't let this survive. They need their consoles.

pipopaz said:

I understand your point Reloader2, they could become a monopoly if they get big enough and no have no competence. As for my opinion, I don't think it will work well yet. First of all, I'm not quite sure how the fees will work but so far we know that you'll be paying $15 monthly and full games are not included. Second, really the most worrying thing has to be the lag, previous reports of the beta stated big amounts of lag which will undoubtedly kill its whole concept, now that may depend on the speed of the user's internet and all that is involved, how are they going to tackle that?

Guest said:

Seeing as how companies have been getting a lot of bad publicity for their attempts to stop piracy and that most companies pay to deliver their demos, I think the subscription fee should be financed by said companies and the users could be charged a nominal fee. Perhaps companies like EA are designing similar services and don't want to support this.

With concerns by many over their internet connection I don't see this surviving through the first year at this price point. Unfortunately, such a failure may keep others from trying again even when the bandwidth concerns are no longer an issue.

Thompson said:

PC gamers aren't going to see anything different here for quite some time, Microsoft are looking to go for a pay for use cloud OS which is pretty horrifying.

As with pretty much everything these days anyone who doesn't live in the USA are left out in the cold, systems like OnLive may find a niche market in America for those who would use that kind of thing but as for widespread success, I think not.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Looks like while we've been discussing the subscription price, OnLive had already announced a couple of days ago that there'd be an option to rent games and play demos without paying a subscription ("subject to available OnLive service capacity" . See here: [link]

So, does this change your perception of the service?

Recipe7 Recipe7 said:

I personally would not subscribe to this service. 15USD to play demos that I can find somewhere else? No thanks.

tigran1808 said:

it's kinda like Xbox live, you have to pay for a subscription but the downside is you can't play your games if you cancel it, maybe there will be a refund for the games after you cancelled it

bigclick said:

Include basic cable in the package and it starts looking good.

Guest said:

Gaming doesn't use a lot of bandwidth? This service WILL because it has to stream the ENTIRE GAMEPLAY PROCESS from their server to your TV. And multiplayer in realtime? HAHA.

The frame rate + connection speed in online multiplayer for fast paced FPS games like Halo 3 would be delayed so much, it would make this impossible. My setup and connection struggle with it as it is!

There is NO WAY it can emulate like you were playing directly from a console.

Renrew Renrew said:

A big emphatic NO-GO.

Personally, I like owning my Game when I plunk down my Dollars, at least I have something to show the Wife when the charge bills roll in. I might even be able to resell the game when I grow tired of it.

This smells of another money grab--I'm old enough to remember when the public was promised, commercial free Cable TV for a small charge. Look at it now. Charges on top of charges with more advertisements thrown in, can you say Boondoggle.

ansarimikail said:

Yeah, I always thought gaming should be a service. Like TV, pay monthly and get to play any game you want. Not having to worry about low settings, overclocking and processor cooling. Hopefully they can make good on it.

Guest said:

This is not for real gamers , bad deal , plus , im not even into browser games , let alone full game being streamed over web with who knows who looks your profile in the game not on your PC which makes modding and tweaking obsolete. While this is cool for xbox noobs , an extra money sucker.

thatguyandrew92 said:

I know some people will like this but you just can't beat the box!

rskapadia2294 said:

if the prices are affordable then it will be the future of gaming !

if the prices are sky high then it is surely destined to fail !

its such simple! another thing that matters its that it doesnt crash while playing like that of ubisoft crashed!

InsaneVr6 said:

The whole OnLive service sounds great...in theory. Like most things I think that when this actually get's released their will be problems (which can be expected from anything), but at the same time I don't think it will deliver as much as they advertise.

They talk about a 'lag-free' service, but unless everyones has a fast (prob over at least 15mb/s) internet connection I don't see how anything can be lag-free.

I'll wait it out and see how people like it when it is released before I make a decision. Cloud computing/technology has come a long way so it's only inevitable for it to be mainstream. When that actually happens time will tell.

theoscentral said:

I also think this will fail. LOL

danteoz said:

I can't see paying $15 a month for a service that is almost the equivalent of steam, which is already free. Then there is the bandwidth, some say its not really an issue and you can get 20mb connection....well thats not available to everyone, or most of everyone...so you have a 25mb connection for $150 a month, I get about 1/5 of that for $60 a month....the higher options aren't there for everyone, or not everyone wants to pay for it.

Yoda8232 said:

This could fail or pass, depending on how it's marketed to people.

I wouldn't buy it, I can imagine all the lag no matter what they say.

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