It’s been roughly four months since OnLive launched its cloud-based gaming service in the U.S. amid both praise and criticism. Although many were pleasantly surprised to see games running smoothly as advertised, the main issue most people had was not with the technology, but with the company’s business plan. Basically they wanted to charge a $15 monthly fee for a subscription that didn’t include the price of the games themselves, just access to the community and free demos.
Full games must be paid separately and cost from $9.99 to $49.99, depending on the title. To be fair, the service hasn’t actually charged this monthly fee to anyone yet, as it offered a launch promotion that included free access for a year to all its “founding members” (or everyone who signed up). Nevertheless, OnLive broke some good news yesterday that will make the service much more appealing in one simple move: they have scraped fees altogether.
Apparently this was the plan all along but it couldn't be announced until they had built a large base of regular users and looked at usage patters to figure out whether the service could be supported without monthly subscriptions. This means instant-play demos, massive spectating, brag clip videos, messaging and other community features will be available for free. You’ll still have to pay for games in a rental or full access basis, but paying only for the content you want to use makes a lot more sense. Unfortunately all the other drawback are still there – any game you purchase is locked to OnLive, no playing offline or installing to your local hard drive.