OnLive pushes game stream service to UK punters
Cloud-based game service OnLive opened its gates to the UK public this morning, providing access to over a hundred titles and offerings exclusive deals for punters with BT internet connections.
The service has been active in the US since June 2010. To date, UK players have had access to the service through its US servers, and that's brought with it a wee bit of lag. Well, not any longer.
In 2010, OnLive struck a partnership with BT so it's no surprise the telco's customers benefit the most, each gaining a PlayPack subscription that'll last until next year.
Not only does this bring free access to more than 100 games, including Homefront, Fear 3, Prince of Persia and World of Goo. Playing them won't affect customer's broadband usage allowances, regardless of the tariff they're on. BT customers can sign up to OnLive online.
Users without a BT connection are offered the same service for £7 a month.
OnLive is also pitching a special launch offer for all customers, where the first full PlayPass a user snaps up will cost just £1. PlayPasses grant access to games for a fixed period of time. A full pass is unlimited and while there's always the chance a game will be removed from the system, OnLive promises support for a minimum of three years before this happens. Other options are five-day and three-day passes, starting from £2 a pop.
Gamers visiting this week's Eurogamer Expo at Earls Court are also getting free Game Systems which'll stream the service to any HDTV - though with the usual 'while stocks last' caveat. These boxes can be purchased separately for £70.
High street retailer Game has jumped on board too and will stock all the trimmings, including the OnLive Game System, OnLive Wireless Controller and PlayPass purchases across the group's 615 UK stores.
OnLive supports HDTVs, PCs and Macs. iPad and Android tablet support is on the horizon, it said.
Let us know how you get on, or simply up some 'Brag Clips' of your favourite moments and post them to Reg Hardware's Facebook page. ®
Apart from the many problems I have with this service, the pricing isn't exactly great.
First, you have to pay £7 a month (or the equivalent "BT tax" to compensate for their shiteness and package-forcing). Then you have to pay for the game. Okay, maybe you can rent it for a few months, but if you want an unlimited pass (as the article states - legally binding for only three years) then it costs EXACTLY the same as buying the damn game, sometimes a little more. Except it pretty much disappears if you stop paying (and/or after three years).
You don't save much on hardware - £70 for a box or have a computer that's already capable of running quite a lot of stuff anyway (and which you use for myriad other things, upgrade every few years anyway, etc.). You need to tie up your broadband line, most of the time you're playing, you need to already have keyboards, mice, joysticks and other controllers that you want to use. You need to keep the subscription going even if you have a gaming lapse.
It seems to me an incredibly niche usage that cuts a lot of people out of the equation - serious gamers won't tolerate the compression or the latency or the prices, households won't use it because it's effectively single-player-only because of the bandwidth requirements and hardware interfacing, kids who can't afford games but just want to demo things to say they've played it will be disappointed with the requirements and the results (not to mention pricing), casual gamers won't want to pay a subscription / box /software etc. to rent things like World of Goo (which disappear if they stop paying), people who are scared to install games won't even hear, let alone touch, this service.
To me, even a cheap gaming PC and a copy of Steam is infinitely more valuable and solves almost all of the above problems immediately. And, guess what, you're final picture quality will be better! It's effectively the same as those "virtual office" services when you can just log onto a remote desktop, except it really picked the worst possible use-case.
Yeah, but the downside to that is that you have to use BT. Eurk. I think I'd rather pay.
BT offering "free" onlive
BT is offering onlive freee.. for the first three months .. see BT.com
I could see this being awesome for the sort of MMO things where you're paying a fee to play them anyway.
Anything else? Not so much. I have quite a few titles here that are older than three years. The RTS/FPS remake of Battlezone and its sequel? Operation Flashpoint GOTY edition (no, not the recent one)? Unreal? Unreal Tournament? The 2004 variant? Mechwarrior 2, 3 OR 4 and the numerous "Mercenaries" spinoffs? Hell, I still drag Master of Orion 2 out via the wonders of DosBox on occasion. Now that's a game that should feature in one of El Reg's gaming classics articles. In OnLive's world, I might well be unable to play any of these titles because they are too old. Even Doom 3 is possibly getting a little long in the tooth, and that thing was as notorious as Crysis on release!
This system has all the disadvantages of Steam and then some for "normal" games, which is a damned shame because with a few MMO clients available it could work rather spectacularly well. OnLive, are you listening? Go chat with Blizzard and CCP. That'll be a start.
Just tried it
Thought what the hell, for £1 might as well give it a go. Suffice to say, its quite laggy on virgin, that could be virgin though, but I am trying it late at night to check it out. Playing deus ex human revolution, and its pretty crap when trying to shoot people :)
Jury's out....But for £1 cant complain :)