As an avid trader of video games on various sites across the "internets" I should really hate OnLive. In fact any gamer who hates the "required online pass" or the blossoming anti-used game movement by certain evil bastards in the video games industry, should really dislike OnLive. Not because OnLive is evil (trust me they seem angelic more then satanic. Their customer service makes me all moist.) but because this is the "no more used games" monsters wet dream.
Onlive the streaming gaming system (think Netflix's streaming movie service) is, in my opinion, the next big thing in gaming. As someone who's used the service a fair bit lately (certainly more then I used my Wii) and as someone who is into the latest and greatest in technology, I am becoming more and more impressed as the days go by.
Lets get to the cool side of the OnLive Pillowy Cloud.
OnLive literally allows you to play PC games (which have been "ported" to the service) without the need for a high end expensive PC, a disk, a cd, or a download (other then the app). The service can be played on the following:
OnLive Console (which BTW has an excellent standard 360 like controller) Price under 100 Dollars total. I got mine on a deal where if I pre-ordered a game for $49.99 the system was free.
PC (including many netbooks)
IPhone (I believe this is the case I don't like apple products so I'm not sure)
Android Phone or Tablet
Xperia Play Phone (With the built in controls being compatible with many games)
Besides the fact that you can play full fledged pc games on a variety of devices, which is cool as hell, Onlive saves your game on the cloud and can be picked up and continued on another device on the fly.
Lets take for example the Lego Batman game that's available on OnLives service and touchscreen enabled.
Didn't get to beat that tricky part vs Joker on your OnLive console? Is it really irking you that you can't beat it till you get home? Why not play it via 4G (sorry not 3G yet) on the train ride to work.
Didn't beat it by the time you got to work? Play it on your companies PC over your lunch break.
Still didn't beat it?? (Man you suck) Gotta go to a buddies house after work to let out his stupid poodle and he has a MAC? Oh crap how will you beat it now....oh wait you can load it on his Mac (vomits in mouth).
If someone doesn't find this freaking amazing (or at least quite impressive) I think you need to lay off the downers brah!
In addition OnLive games tend to be pretty darn reasonable price wise. It seems every recognized holiday gets its own sale and deals are almost as good as steam deals are.
Example: Over Xmas/New Years break I scored Deus Ex: Human Revolution for a cool 11 Dollars, I grabbed Tropico 4 for 8 dollars and I grabbed Dark Void for 2 Dollars and some change.
This is in addition to the Zero Dollars I spent on Warhammer 40k space marine and other games which I've gotten for less then 20 bucks.
Another amazing part of the service is getting to Demo almost all games for 30 minutes at a time. FREE! So if you don't trust the service just download it for free and try as many games as many times as you want. I can't think of a better way to just Demo games. Considering the FREE aspect of the Apps and the cheap console its pretty much worth your while.
Why so cheap batman?
I am subscribed to their monthly service which gives me a ton of "Free" games as well as a 33% discount for $9.99 a month. Don't worry you don't ever need to join this service to enjoy Onlive. If I wasn't subscribed I think I would've paid something like 16 bucks for Deus Ex (Still well below a hard copy).
Speaking of the $9.99 playpack I have to say that its a pretty swell deal. Especially if you have kids ( I don't by the way). For 10 bucks a month you get access to lots of PC games from Total Crap to Classic. The Original Deus Ex and 3 Tomb Raiders games are included. As are older sports games and kids games that you'll never touch. A complete list can be found at http://www.onlive.com/ . In short I think its a great deal and the list is continually growing. Add in the discount and its a no brainer.
And yes the service has achievements, multiplayer games, and a community where you can watch other people game live and rate their gameplay and recordings.
Of course there are downsides to the service. Some annoying and some game changing.
Quality, for one, is a big concern. I pull about 10 mbps down on my comcast connection and although the screen looks good from 5 feet away getting closer in on my 32 inch tv shows some artifacting.
However, the faster the connection and/or the smaller the screen the less artifacting you'll get. This is probably why you can game on 4G via a small cellphone screen but may have trouble powering a 42 inch TV over 3 mbps DSL. The recommended min speed is 5 mbps I believe.
Also, you will have occasional dropouts of the service. The good thing is that OnLive does a good job of not making you lose your progress, although either updates to OnLives service or Comcast has caused my dropouts, 1 per may be 3 hours of playing, to decrease to may be 1 per 3 days.
OnLive does give you a 5 minute "waiting period" while it tries to reestablish your connection. Usually your connection will reestablish in that period of time (In fact I've never had it not do so as its usually my modem rebooting and its up in 30 seconds.)
Essentially you are at the mercy of your ISP. Which brings me to the other scary point. Bandwidth!
OnLive eats alot of Bandwidth. How much? I'm not really sure but its got to be a lot. I'd assume its gonna be more then Netflix. I know on my Xperia Play it ate about 4gbs of data with me probably testing it on my phone for a good 1 or 2 hours total. So mind your service agreements. I'll probably switch to a Business plan if need be.
The real scariness is that I'm sure the PC devs that we mentioned above are seeing this as a way to get away from pirating games or trading games.
Imagine if games only existed on the cloud. In essence you'd never be able to trade it or pirate a copy. That has to have dollar signs flying around in the heads of EA, Activision, Obisidian, and every other game dev and publisher.
OnLive, at very least, proves that gaming CAN be done in a technologically successful way and possibly in a financially responsible way. Now I know steam and other sites do "download only" but this still allows for code to be floating around in the consumers hands. Onlive does not. I assume someone could grab the code illegally from OnLive's servers but how that would run on a PC is beyond my technical knowledge (not that I have ANY doubt that it could be done.)
If it could be grabbed and pirated then this is a moot point obviously.
I really do think the fair prices to the consumer, amazing versatile tech, and appeal to game devs will make OnLive the "Next Big Thing" in gaming. I think a lot of Hardcore PC gamers (which is what I was until about 3 years ago) are not going to dig this service. I understand that 100 percent. As a proud fapper of technology I think its amazingly cool but I do think it opens up the door to maybe a darker gaming world then many of us would like. Its really a catch 22.
So which side are you on?
The side of OnLive which in my opinion makes an amazing product that appeals to those of us who don't have gaming rigs anymore (or never did in the first place)?
The gamer who travels all the time and wants to play everywhere?
The side that only wants a hardcopy and would be super pissed to find out that trading games would go out the window?
The PC gamer who will never sacrifice graphics/power for utility?
There are so many sides to OnLive from the technology to the industry implications that I have to say OnLive is going to be the biggest gaming story of the new year. Or at least it'll be the seed of it.
Just wanted to say that I sound like a fanboy of this service. I don't work for them in any way or know anyone who does. Excuse all typos too as I don't get paid by DToid either :) read