29/02/2012

Is Onlive now worth it?

Image Provided by Onlive
Onlive, the entertainment "system" that lets you play a cornucopia of games in computers that enters the 5-10 year old retirement rule has been here for quite sometime now, but the question is the same as when it was shown a public client release: Is it worth it?

 My answer to this is still NO, not yet atleast. Onlive demonstrates a lot of potential but the idea hasn't matured enough to compete in the big league in which Origin, Steam and other fight for the largest chunk of the market, so it's not there yet. The reasons are various and the computer isn't one, here is why:

A lack of titles

This is probably one of the biggest problems Onlive needs to tackle. It counts with approximately 230 games, which if you look it like this is pretty good but less than a third is casual games, something that doesn't do for some people and more than half of the total is games that a 5 year old computers can still play or they aren't big AAA titles, not that big titles aren't superior to other unknown to the general gaming population but more of those types of game that your embarrassed to show it in your awesome library of epic games. You also have the playback bundle that's cheap for the games you get but yet there are some downsizes to it as well, mostly is that you have about 10-20 games which you might play (if you haven't played them already) and the rest is, in my honest opinion, trash and it's a monthly subscription so you'll just keep coughing up money for 140+ games of which you will only play 2 or 3 at a time if that much.

More surprising is the lack of genres, something that could seal the deal on Onlive (see below why), they mostly cater the FPS and various Casual player types lately. Its disturbing the small amount of other genres have to deal with very small amount of interesting games.

A price too high for nothing

For those who want to experience Onlive on the your sweet HD screen, you might want to think twice before you jump in the website and blindly purchase their system which costs $99. Now, you can think that for those who buy a PS3/360 get to pay way more and don't receive any extras for it, think again. They are actually buying more than a gaming system as they are also buying an entertainment system, and Onlive unfortunately only caters gamers and thats practically it.

Even though that is missing, you also have the physical part of the consoles that Onlive doesn't have. You will never get the game, as it will be stored in one of those fancy super-computers the company must own so you are subjected to having the game "unavailable" or not working correctly for a long period of time as the previously mention hardware might go on maintenance.

Methods of Payment

Onlive approaches the buyer by making them various offers as you can either buy the game, various options on "renting" the game, buy the previously mentioned bundle or try it out before playing. Now this is a very interesting method if you think of renting a digital copy of the game, but the thing is, this option is not a default option in all the games however as new games only have the "Buy" mode and you can't even try it out a thing that for a pioneer system that needs to attract costumers badly this isn't the way to go. You need attractive methods to counter balance the negative aspects of your product and this just piles up on the negative side.

Hard Competition

Let's face it, we would gladly go to Steam, Origin or similar before joining Onlive. If you have a decent computer, which mostly people actually do you get by the general game and common uses until you upgrade it and with Steam (mild example) you can always download the game and play it without any hassle or trouble and it doesn't have any drawback besides your computer, so if it runs good it tops Onlive anytime.

The Internet that couldn't chug

Even if you have a decent Internet subscription, be advised as it won't be enough to hold you to the Onlive server. I have a 100 Mbit Optic Fiber Internet connection directly, and the computer is still average computer that can hold Crysis at medium settings so it should be OK for the program... I was wrong. The client struggles sometimes showing horrible errors that don't make much sense. One of these errors kept me off my account for five minutes saying my Internet connection had a problem, but without changing anything or doing anything to either the system of the Internet connection it logged me in. Another of the most annoying problems is that no matter how big your Internet connection is some of the games will play sluggish enough for you to notice, and even some of them are definitely game-breaking (Eg. Frontlines). One last thing though, since Onlive is based in Northern America this might be the problem, although an opinion to check this out is more than welcome.

The Honeymoon Effect

In all honesty, people were dumbstruck when they showed Onlive, even I was, but after a long exposure to its client and games the mind blowing effect of it died day by day. It's an awesome feeling to be playing Assassin's Creed 2 on your Netbook or other devices, but the more you play it the more you see that its not the same thing, you'll notice that there is a very slow response in some games which not game-breaking will test your patience day by day, the small library will seem smaller day by day getting sometimes claustrophobic but most importantly, you will never fully purchase those games because you are prone to make the obvious choice or renting it.


While on the move

Onlive was meant to be played in just one place, you can't take it with you and even if you try you won't get a decent bandwidth resulting in game crashes. While once again, the situation might be different in other countries, here its almost impossible to play on the move and there isn't much to say here except that in a 350 Km bus trip in which I could play World of Warcraft Raids and random FPS on a friends laptop, Onlive crashed every 10-15 minutes and the streaming was most of the time in low quality.



A desperate strategy?

Now I understand that tablets are the thing to have right now, I really don't understand why would someone actually put Onlive on it. I don't have a tablet, as I have a netbook and I'm not tempted to shell out a couple hundred bucks on an iPad or its relative close cousins (although PS Vita is another story) to play Angry Birds, or just to fashionably read a book in which paper still rocks for me sorry or even with the possibility of having Onlive there. I have no idea of who had this brilliant idea of putting games like Arkham City on an iPad\iPhone\other Onlive client and work it out with the touch-pad (I know that it the controller can work with the iPad). Unfortunately they are sitting on a gold mine and they don't even know it, as despite the flaws it has Real Time Strategy games such as R.U.S.E would be extremely well adapted and playable both in multiplayer as in single-player.
 
But I gotta hand them what they did, a computer desktop in an iPad? Impressive with the right add-ons and with flash application gives what Apple so rightfully declined users off. With its amazing plans (you have one free so you might want to try it out), I would feel very tempted into joining in the fun.


In Conclusion...

Maybe I'm just nitpicking some of the aspects above mentioned, maybe I'm not but the fact is that, if Onlive wants to grow, and by saying grow is getting a dent on the steam marketshare, and actually grab the attention of the general gaming community without taking nasty shortcuts (excessive catering of casual gamers) it needs to change its general strategy and continually improve its library and code so that not only is the library tempting but also playable without noticing that the response time is 2 seconds or more off key. With this in mind, the company behind the system must play its cards straight and play its strengths which, in my view, haven't found out what they are yet but I'll give them one hint: RTS in iStuff or just switch into a corporate cloud based system which seems very promising.

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This article represents a personal opinion of the writer and shouldn't be considered as the opinion of Addict3d team in general, we might hang him by his toes if we don't like it though.

Update: I've edited some of the phrasing and corrected some of the large list of typos. I've also made clear my opinion in the first paragraph.

6 comments:

  1. OnLive has been worth it's cost (free) since it launched. What's not to love about cheap and free AA title's that you can play anywhere? Buy it once, play on your TV, PC, laptop, phone, tablet. out of over 20 games I have with OnLive I've spent a total of maybe $150. and they're nearly all top games like Assassin's Creed Revelations. So is OnLive worth it? Definitely!

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    1. Hello Phil and thank you for your comment!

      Maybe I didn't made myself understood when I said it was not worth it. For a personal point of view it's not worth it, due to some of its current problems and small library compared to other digital publishers however if you don't want to spend thousands of dollars/euro/other currency its an alternative, specially when they've added the Onlive Desktop for iPads which is a must-have for people who work light.

      On the terms of registration, yes it is free, but free is a small catch as you need to buy a game to actually play it (excluding demo-trials) so that still retains to the same type of policy that steam and other digital publishers use. One thing however puzzles me in your post as how did you just spent in over twenty games, maybe $150 I've been following the prices over a month till now and besides the renting I have no clue how you made it (maybe I'm not finding this and you could help me out?) with assassins creed revelations being $49,99 without any other options uniquely.

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    2. Hey man I wouldn't purchase Onlive video games you don't actually own them they can remove them after like 3 years. When you purchase a game it will say this title can be removed at this date you will see that in the description if your going to use Onlive I would suggest play pack bundle or renting them just trying to help I almost screwed myself I was thinking of buying and then when I seen that I was like no I'll just use Steam's services lol.

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  2. To your previous statement all I have to say is, poop.

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  3. i feel that using steam or origin may be worth more of my money considering your ACTUALLY getting files, just the "Cloud gaming" from online would be more conveient and will help me play the game more productivly. (As more games to play and easier to access ocnsidering no download time. other than the streaming.)

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