Sunday, March 14, 2010

OnLive Launches in June

GDC '10 was last week, and yet, the news is still rolling full steam (obviously I just haven't covered everything I'd like to write about). OnLive made a big splash last year and returned this year with a release date for the service: June 17th.

Some bare bones pricing has also been announced. The service itself will cost $15 a month. I guess this includes a lot of the community features, including: "instant-play free game demos; multiplayer across PC, Mac and TV platforms; massive spectating; viewing of Brag Clips video capture and posting; and cloud-saving of games you've purchased." This monthly cost does not include the rental or purchasing fees for any given game.

Wait, what? So the user pays $15 a month and then pays extra on top of that subscription for any games they'd like to play? That doesn't sound nearly as enticing as I once thought OnLive might have been. Obviously, even a streaming solution can't outrun the publisher's bottom line.

I just don't understand. If you want to use OnLive on your television, without hooking it up to your computer, you'll need some sort of set-top box. I'm guessing you'll be charged for that. Then the user will have to pay for a connection with the bandwith to even run the service. Afterwhich they'll add on $15 a month to even log on. Then depending on whether you want to play games or watch other people play games, you'll have to pay for those too.

Beyond that, how do you own anything on OnLive? Where does ownership fall in a subscription based model? If I "buy" a game to play over the streaming service, and then I cancel my subscription, how do I continue to play the game?

Thank God for Steam and Valve for bringing that platform to the Mac (hypothetically encouraging more developers to create Mac ports of PC games). That was a lot less concise than I was going for....

Thank God for Steam.

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