Skip to content

Looking to buy games through the Onlive gaming service?

onlive system

Onlive is a Cloud based "instant" Gaming Service

So I’ve been testing out Onlive’s “instant gaming” cloud gaming service now for probably just over a year and I have to say I was quite impressed until my first run in with their support team which opened my eyes to a lot of deal breaking issues for people who are looking to make a decision as to where they are going to buy their games with the sea of choices these days the short list is as follows:

– Steam (the defacto place people by their PC games these days)
– Greenman Gaming (has some great deals)
– Onlive (also has great weekend deals)
– Origin
– Direct2Drive

then list goes on and on….

Now.. here are my observations of the pros and cons of Onlive and how it ranks up against the rest:


– Cloud based – doesn’t require many hardware resources on the local device but does require a decent internet connection. This is great because you don’t have to worry about local disk space or upgrading your box.

– Ability to “watch” people playing games

– Has a friends list, voice chat

– $10 per month gaming subscription called “play pack”

– cross platform (although not all platforms are supported yet)

– Ability to try games for free for up to 30 mins prior to buying (if supported)

– weekend special pricing (found with all services)


Now for the CONS I’ve found over the year:

– Multiplayer games DO NOT work with other PC gamers on any of the above listed services. You can only play with / against other Onlive members. This is a huge problem because there’s simply not enough people using the service and you can spend far too much time waiting for a game (longer than I have time for) – I struggle with this being a hard requirement for the game and I think this is a sale / marketing tactic. If the service runs on the TCP/IP stack, it can support Multiplayer with other services. This is a MAJOR detractor for their service

– Sales are final. There isn’t even a grace period to refund it. For example, I just bought Warhammer 40k: Space Marine and asked for a refund because it doesn’t have the Multiplayer feature available yet while the other services you can buy it from do. There was absolutely no warning regarding this fact during purchase nor a discount.

– Game selection for $10 per month playpack is very limited. Consider to largely be a bunch of games people either didn’t want or that are old and not necessarily good either. I believe they are up to just over 50 games now included in this flat rate buffet

EDIT: they are now over 100 – much better – this can potentially make them the “Netflix of Gaming”

– Games you purchase on Onlive stay on Onlive. There’s no voucher system or product key or anything else that they send you (other than an invoice).  This means if a publisher pulls a game or Onlive is down, you don’t get to play it or install it normally through your computer or otherwise. Again, this is another HUGE short sight and makes buying games on the service very risky. It’s extremely difficult to consider paying $65 for a new game on Onlive, when I can buy it at a Store or through Steam and not have to worry about a small subset of gamers I actually get to play with as well the fact that I’m at the mercy of the service itself. Steam lets you play games offline – the way Onlive works, this is simply not possible. As a result games should be discounted in my opinion to make up for this short coming.

This also means that games you’ve already bought that are already in the onlive catalog also cannot be added into the cloud system through an activation key or anything like that.

-No support for Eyefinity (extra widescreen resolution / multi monitor support) eg:  5760×1080

– After a 5 minute “pause”  you are logged off of the service and all unsaved progress is forever lost

So there you have it the good and the bad – I don’t know about you but I think after typing all this out that they need to do some major service enhancements before I move any more of my purchases over to their “vault” style service.   It’s extremely difficult to purchase games @ 60$ a pop that are restricted to a particular medium.   I personally think when you buy a game once, you should be able to transfer your license to any platform you choose via some kind of open standard which as of writing this does not exist.

There’s also a direct competitor out there….  Gaikai


Posted in General.

Tagged with , , , , .

3 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Bleatmop says

    The Pro’s that you listed are exactly why this service would
    dominate the PC market IF it wasn’t for the problems you listed.
    Seriously, can only play with other Onlive players?? For a
    streaming gaming service it would seem simple that you could play
    over the internet, not just on their own intranet or whatever it
    would be called. That they disabled Space Marine’s multiplayer is
    baffling to me. To sum it up, great business model, poorly
    executed. Come 5-10 years I expect this to be the norm for game
    delivery and it is these screw-ups of their that will stop them
    from dominating the distribution of video games market.

  2. Tybox says

    Completely agree and the pros had me genuinely excited. But yes
    they are leaving some pretty big gaps that make room for a
    competitor to fill. And they won’t truly do well unless consumers
    are confident in the platform. I don’t want to spend a lot of money
    to a ‘vault’ on someone else’s servers for games I’m paying up to
    60-65$ for that aren’t really “mine”. It simply feels like over
    priced rentals (And we know what this did to Block buster right?)

  3. Tybox says

    Also to add – they had additional requirements for the multiplayer
    system that take time and additional shipping / support code from
    the game developers to make. The multiplayer wasn’t there at launch
    b/c they decided to make it live with all other releases rather
    than wait for Multiplayer to be completed. It it supposed to
    release soon if not already; “soon”.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.

This site is protected with Urban Giraffe's plugin 'HTML Purified' and Edward Z. Yang's Powered by HTML Purifier. 1989 items have been purified.