I’ve had nothing but snarky comments for OnLive since it was first announced. See The Emperor Has No Clothes! (OnLive), OnLive, a new game-changing technology or OnLive’s streaming game service to launch June 17th. I don’t expect you to go read all those, but if you did, you’d find that I slipped in a virtual sneer at every chance I got.
I was absolutely positive this service was snake oil.
Tonight I got in and… dammit, it works pretty well. I’m gonna have to eat my words.
Tonight I’m just going to convey my experience with a game; there’s a lot to talk about re: social aspects of the service but I’ll leave that for another day.
I selected Borderlands as the first game to try, partially because Scopique chose it (and I wanted to compare notes) and partially because I just wanted to play it. I haven’t played Borderlands on PC before and only a bit on the 360.
I fired it up and more or less instantly was seeing the intro stuff. You get 30 minutes of demo time per game, but otherwise a demo is the full game, and that includes intro movies, tutorials and stuff. That’s a slight flaw and in a perfect world they’d start your timer when you got control of your character, but I realize that’s asking a lot.
The game ran pretty nicely. One weird thing was when I aimed my gun, distant terrain and enemies would be blurry and then come into focus. I don’t know if this is an OnLive artifact or a style choice. It didn’t feel wrong…in fact it felt pretty neat. Like I’m raising my gun and squinting down the sights to focus on a target.
A very few times things went slightly wonky and I’d suddenly turn 180 degrees or something. This didn’t happen enough that it hurt the experience, but it’s worth mentioning. Presumably the OnLive servers aren’t packed yet.
So I ran around killing stuff, finished a few quests, made a level, then my demo ran out. So now I had a choice to make. In the case of Borderlands, I could buy a “Full Pass” for $29.99 and have full access to the game for as long as I was subscribed to OnLive (that’s the same price I’d pay to just buy the game from Steam) or I could buy a 5 day pass ($8.99) or a 3 day pass ($5.99). So there are options, at least for Borderlands.
On the other hand, Assassin’s Creed II was $39.99 for a Full Pass (again, same as Steam) and had no short term rentals, but Batman Arkham Asylum only had 3 & 5 day passes ($4.99 & $6.99 respectively) with no Full Pass option. Splinter Cell Conviction was $59.99 for a Full Pass, no other options.
Point being every game is different. Scopique played some demos where you could save your progress and pick right up from where you left off if you bought the game, but Borderlands, when the demo ran out, let me know that my progress wasn’t saved. It’d be nice to know this ahead of time.
There’s no way I’d pay $60 for Splinter Cell Conviction on this service, but I could see myself buying a 3-day pass to Batman some weekend, if I didn’t already own the game on the PS3. Or even a 3-day pass to Borderlands if some friends were playing some weekend.
I feel like I’m focusing too much on the negatives here. The fact is, I was *stunned* that the service works. It was really nice jumping into a game without have to download or install anything (once the OnLive client was installed, that is). While I was playing, Angela was in EQ2 and she didn’t notice any lag caused by my OnLive-ing, which was something I was concerned about.
And my PC is decent for gaming, but pretty much every game kicks the video card’s fan into high gear, making the PC suddenly start sounding like a vacuum cleaner. That didn’t happen playing OnLive, since my PC wasn’t doing the heavy lifting. And if you have a snappy internet connection but not such a great PC, OnLive should in theory be right up your alley.
With their special offer, the first year of OnLive is free, and I’ll definitely be using it at least now and then. Year 2 it’ll cost $4.95/month; we’ll see if I’m up for that. After that the intent is for it to go to $14.95/month and I’m pretty sure I would not do that, unless it came with some kind of perks (certain games free each month or something along those lines).
There’s a bunch of social stuff that I’ll go into more in another post if people are interested, but suffice to say it’s kind of fun watching other people play games now and then.
If you try out OnLive, add me as a friend: my gamertag there is Jaded (same as it is on Xbox Live).