OnLive drops monthly fees

After initially proposing $15/month and $5/month surcharge, the game-streaming service does away with subscription payments altogether.

Following months of hype about how its game-streaming technology would change the industry landscape, OnLive unveiled a $15 per month pricing model when it launched during March's Game Developers Conference. At June's Electronic Entertainment Expo, the company retreated, offering instead a Founding Members Program that allowed subscribers to use the service for free until 2011, when it would charge $5 per month in fees.

OnLive: now without monthly subscriptions.

Today, in an interview with Gamasutra, OnLive CEO Steve Perlman said that his company had decided to do away with monthly fees altogether. "The key thing for us is keeping it free simplifies our pricing structure so it is entirely based on games rather than on access," he told the industry trade site. "It gives us much more flexibility and it is easier to understand than a two-tiered structure. And, now we know the business model works."

"We actually got the first indication that the business could be supported without a monthly fee when we let beta testers start purchasing games before we launched the service," he continued. "But, because it was beta, we weren't certain what usage patterns would be at scale."

However, just because there is no monthly subscription doesn't mean that OnLive is completely free. Currently, OnLive offers three different ways for players to access games themselves. The Full PlayPass gives players unfettered access to a game for the duration of its presence on OnLive (minimum three years) for a price similar to that of retail. Among the several dozen games on the site, Mafia II sells for $50, with Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction and Batman: Arkham Asylum selling for $40. Five-day and three-day passes are also available, with prices ranging from $6 to $9.

OnLive's appeal is that it allows gamers to play graphics-intensive games in high definition on virtually any PC or Mac without the need for a high-end graphics card. It does so by streaming the games from various server farms all over the nation, which do the heavy lifting in terms of graphics. A small, Roku-like Microconsole is also planned for release that will give the same functionality to any television it is hooked up to--provided the owner has an Internet connection over 3Mbps (5Mbps is recommended). The service has also recently entered a Wi-Fi beta, with a smartphone version also in development.

More information on OnLive can be found on the service's Web site.

Written By

Discussion

129 comments
mewarmo990
mewarmo990

I would *prefer* to play games with physical media on my high-end rig at home, but I travel so much that I've found OnLive to be immensely useful, enabling me to play games on my crappy work laptop. And the system's performance has gotten much better since launch as well. In its primary intended purpose, I'd say OnLive has been a great breakthrough as an entertainment platform. The only problem I see with this is that a subscription-less business model does not seem viable in the long term for maintaining server farms that have enormous upkeep and will only keep expanding with the user base. They will also have to upgrade all the hardware roughly every 4-5 years. How can they possibly maintain this system if they are making only $50 once per purchase? So in the long run I will only be purchasing a few PlayPasses to pass my time when traveling, games that I will not miss when they are inevitably gone. @blue_francis: I can't really agree with your statement that OnLive is the answer to UbiSoft's DRM. I mean, you still have to be constantly connected to the internet to use either one...

NetGod
NetGod

Why would I pay $40. -$50. to rent a game for 3 years? when I can instead buy the same game at the store, proudly display the box on my shelf and own the game for life? Only an idiot would go the Onlive route.

optimus
optimus

Well when i buy a game on xbla or psn there's no expiration and i'm able to play what i bought when i want without paying $15 a month fee if it were like ps+ or live gold where i could do by the year that would be much nicer. I do expect both live and psn to go onlive sooner or later keeping the games all digital and allowing us to play them would be the next step. It would be nice if older games from xbox 1,360,ps2,ps3 were simply always available while new content was purchased like xbla or psn now. I seriously doubt on live could take on xbox and playstation cloud services and win but both sony and ms are waiting and watching.

zaofreak03
zaofreak03

I have been using this service since my gaming rig died a couple months back. Now that the wifi works I can play pretty great games at full graphics quality on my toshiba laptop (hooked up to all my old gaming rig accessories) and it feels great. Only problem is that their selection so far is lacking, they need more releases.

leeko_link
leeko_link

Stupid decision, it would be best to keep the $15 monthly subscription fee and do away with paying full price for any games(since the subscriber isn't actually gonna own the game at all). Seriously let us stream and play games with no cost and we'll gladly pay the monthly subscription fee, we don't want to pay the expensive cost for games to which we don't own. It looks like OnLive don't know how to do business. Think like cable OnLive, don't make us pay per play.

fillup0
fillup0

This is huge news, as the internet becomes more widely available and faster, Onlive will become huge.

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

Steam will work for most of us since they support offline mode & balanced between offline/online... but with On-Live. gaming experience become totally crappy...:? what with subscription fee every month.. it's just like paying unlimited, infinite money for gaming. and if you didn't pay once. they will not letting you play your "owned" products. :?

GunBladeHero
GunBladeHero

What is this ´´On-Live´´? Is it for the PC?

Bufta
Bufta

Onlive is the biggest waste of time imo. You have to have a mega fast internet connection, cant see the isp's letting you have unlimited GB's either for this service. Also if the internet breaks down, which lets face it, it does all the time then no games. Its an awful service based on some hypothetical utopia where we all have a perfect unlimited super fast optical broadband connection. GET REAL........ Plus i dont like the not having physical media side of it too.

rpgnutt
rpgnutt

with ps3 360 and nintendo playin king of the hill onlive will be in the poor house cause they couldnt sell any units

okassar
okassar

"Mafia II sells for $50" LOL it's less than 40 dollars NEW for 360 and PS3 and 30 dollars on Amazon, and it'll get cheaper in a month, and you keep forever rather than 3 years. First I thought the game prices would be much lower like Steam, but no, this whole program is garbage. What a complete failure, they marketed it to be the one system of the future, HAHA.

Rashgod
Rashgod

Buying games for full retail through OnLive is probably more expensive than upgrading your system and buying them elsewhere, on a year-to-year basis.

joeborg14
joeborg14

@TheBionicRock Unless the buyer has a crappy rig. You have missed the point of this service.

thetravman
thetravman

The thing sounded promising when it was first announced. Judging by the comments, it failed. I had no idea it was out, so it must've been a disappointment.

leviathanwing
leviathanwing

so... let me get this straight, im webcam gaming?... this is lamer every single time i hear about. service was launched in march?... first time ive heard of that too... wow, its really changing the gaming landscape now... massive sarcasm...

Oozyrat
Oozyrat

Hey, why can't MS follow them and lower the XBL subscription costs too? ...Oh yeah

Flat_Line_____
Flat_Line_____

I was pretty excited about OnLive when it was announced. But after checking out they're "library" of games, (Unless I missed something it looks like they had about 1 page of games, 20-30? total I think?) I was dissapointed... But after reading this, the 3-5 day passes might be cool for a PC game I'm not sure I would want, but can't RENT at any retailer to try out. (Yeah I know people can access other means to try-out a game b4 buying, but in most cases I want to try multiplayer as well.) This was probably the best move they could have made to try and really get the attention of the gaming community.

gzader
gzader

I've been in onlive since the start as part of the free early access they gave away. Really onlive vs steam. I'm paying for games on steam (for less) and I haven't spent a penny on onlive. Haven't even logged in in months. I guess if you have a crummy system it works, but it's not for me.

lock445
lock445

Sounds good, but this is BAD NEWS for struggling competitor InstantAction, the only former and only soon-to-be place where people can play Fallen Empire: Legions, the spiritual successor to Tribes, only-multiplayer for free.

SaintJimmmy
SaintJimmmy

im interested now actually alot more

TheBionicRock
TheBionicRock

"The Full PlayPass gives players unfettered access to a game for the duration of its presence on OnLive (minimum three years) for a price similar to that of retail." So I can pay full retail for three years of access or I can just buy the game on steam for less and have access forever?

blackace
blackace

Looks like someone actually listened to me. For any gamer who does a lot of business travel, but still want to get there gaming fix while on the road, this would be perfect for them. Anyone with PC that's not quite up to snuff to play graphically intense, CPU draining games should also take a look at OnLive. I'm mostly a console gamer, so it's not for me. XBL already had Games on Demand and once purchased, they game is always yours to play. Only real downside to OnLive is the games are really never yours to keep. If you quit the server, you lose all the games you bought. *********************************************************** @mad_krips I dont get it... is this thing out already? ---------------------------------------------------------------------- lol!! It had launched like 2-3 week ago if i remember correctly.

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

This just doesn't seem like something I'd be interested in. I can't buy a game, download it, turn off my internet and not have to worry about lag. With Steam I can. Single player games shouldn't require you to be connected to the internet. This isn't any different from UBI's DRM taken to the extreme. Sure, it's a cheap solution for anyone who's PC can't handle current PC games, but decent hardware is pretty cheap right now. I'm not sure there's a big enough niche for this.

VirtualTofu
VirtualTofu

That's good to know. I should be able to play a game I want for at least three years. But what happened to the free game they promised me? I never got a free game!

VVhiteVVolf
VVhiteVVolf

To my surprise Onlive sent me an email saying that I needed a dual core pc to use the service and my old rig doesn't so that stopped me from trying it, but I would think I could use it with the computer I have. I will have to look into it further. Also as someone else said it is not like steam or D2D. Its cloud technology where their computer does all the processing and your computer just receives the video image of that game being played by you. It receives your input in a millisecond and applies that to the game so its like you pressed the button there and then it sends that image of what you did back to your computer. You can check your ping speed and see that its like 10 milliseconds so thats the time it took to send then receive the "ping" so that would be the time it takes for onlive to receive the input and apply it then you would see that on you video feed of the game being played. I was interested in this but like many other people I like to own a hard copy of my games so for now I am not going to use this. I am still interested though because it would allow me to play better games that I can't play now because of my PC's specs.

Valen_Ca
Valen_Ca

"The Full PlayPass gives players unfettered access to a game for the duration of its presence on OnLive (minimum three years) for a price similar to that of retail." Ok, let me get this straight, I have to pay full retail for a game that will eventually vanish from the service? Seriously, what the hell, where does this even begin to seem like a good idea, I mean there are Steam games that I have had for more then 3 years that I still go back and play on occasion.

majere613
majere613

@fps_d0minat0r very true. IIRC Onlive have partnered with BT, so doubtless we can look forward to that floppy-haired muppet in their commercials popping up at some point to try to persuade us that our PCs and consoles are obsolete compared to the awesome power of his Onlive box, which in the UK will allow us to play Civilisation I at up to half the speed it ran on a 486-based PC in 1984.

Kungfu_Kenobi
Kungfu_Kenobi

OnLive is a neat idea, but I wonder how they will scale up to meet demand. I'm open to the possibility that $50 per game, per user is enough money for OnLive to buy enough servers and bandwidth to meet the infrastructure needs of their clients, and make a profit...but I'm skeptical.

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

@ annoyatron I highly doubt it but if it did could you cope trying to play crysis on a screen that small?

PayneKiller
PayneKiller

I dont get it... is this thing out already?

lee1823
lee1823

you have to admit... this is a genius idea.... but it's not for me... i like owning physical games and hardware and im sure there are MANY other consumers that share my opinion. I do hope this takes off though as its great for people who do not or cannot shell out on expensive hardware in the first place. I think this has the potential to live along side physical hardware and media.... but i don't think it's going to take over the market as some people predict. Even with netflix etc we still have the option to purchase physical movies from retail outlets. Sure it will narrow the physical media market... but thats not always a bad thing.... it just means everyone involved in gaming from production to retail outlets will have to be a bit more competetive in terms of pricing and inginuity if they are not going to be involved with this service... which is a good thing for the end user!

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

this will fail in the UK, you know why? because we dont even get the advertised speeds which are crap compared to other countries. if the microconsole is cheap then i might try it out anyway.

Dynamo11
Dynamo11

Hmmm I may check this out now, it really does seem like a new way to play games

RossRichard
RossRichard

Does this mean OnLive is struggling? If it closes, I feel for everyone that bought full-price games on this service. Especially since Steam has such good sales on a regular basis.

zidan4000
zidan4000

OnLive won't do well in today's crappy internet technology , I mean I still know people who are stuck in 2Mbps connection also the internet structure in the mean time is far from perfect (dropping connections, lag, slowing down etc,,,) comparing OnLive with normal PC gaming is like comparing HD netfilx with blu-ray , the difference is day and night.

Lay5354
Lay5354

@blue_fracis14 I totally agree with what your saying. With this method of gaming, gamers no longer need to purchase new graphic cards to catch up with developers, and developers no longer have to restrict themselves based on the regular consumer's computer's standards.

blue_francis14
blue_francis14

I think some people don't know the technology behind OnLive. You can't compare it to Steam or Direct2Drive because they don't run the game itself. Picture this, you have a kick ass supercomputer in Hawaii, but you are in Wyoming or Kansas. So it's like you have a web cam and robot arms in Hawaii and you control the arms for keyboard and mouse and view the web cast on your pre dual core laptop. Does that not sound fun? Play at maximum details on a crappy laptop? Also why the heck would you wanna tweak the graphics that's already in maximum? Also, this could be the answer to Ubisoft's DRM. I mean you don't own the game because of the DRM, then this is probably much better. Again, the game files won't be streamed to your old laptop. Just the video of the computer in Hawaii...

Lay5354
Lay5354

I'm not going to lie, I'm definitely going to get this now. I hate how subscription makes me feel confined to make my purchases on a set date and play at a set time. Its almost like paying for the time to go to a video store, thinking about which game or video to rent. That's why I didn't get an Xbox, and that's also why I refuse to pay for Playstation Plus regardless of its offers. The thing about network gaming is that it isn't able to see users face to face and is unable to offer any reward for customer loyalty. I'm not going to lie. I've at least spent $250 or more on the PSN. Playstation Plus is a total dud, it tells ppl to spend $50s to save a dollar per game. And maybe you can get some exclusive demos..booohoo.. Good move Onlive!

firehawk998
firehawk998

I have tried STEAM at my cousins place and was impressed. The service has a lot of old and latest games out there, also once you download something the copy of the game is then putted on your hard drive, this device also a offline mode and the biggest advatage of this service is the prices are low. If ever I am gonna shift to DD then Steam gets my money never this Onlive thing.

Big_Stingman
Big_Stingman

Woo you guys can render new games on crappy low settings and then send the compressed video to my house, making it look even more pixely. Sorry, I'll stick with my gaming PC for now.

niklev83
niklev83

Were loosing our freedom by the second... I want to be able to tweak my graphics settings (even so I can set them all to low), be able to own a high-end video card even if it costs me a fortune, be able to own a copy (physical or digital) of the game I purchase, be able to feel that I'm getting the most out of my money, be able to grow a collection of games on my shelf so I can look at the game without having to have my computer or television on to do it ... period.

NoHotAshes
NoHotAshes

lol, i knew they would have to do this. no one in their right mind was going to pay full price for a game then have to pay a monthy fee to play it.

Exectech
Exectech

I hope you realize that you don't own your games with Steam either. Although a copy may reside on your hard drive it still has to authorize your copy on Steams servers. It's the same as OnLive except with OnLive you aren't required to own powerful hardware and soon you'll be able to play on a Roku type device. Who knows this technology may end up going the way of netflix and ending up on standard consoles as well. Onlive's CEO Pearlman has said that they can only guarantee a minimum of 3 years they want to keep them forever. This service is no different than the smart phone market concept. Eventually, the prices will come down because Publishers love the idea and they will want to compete with their own physical retail sales.

Acquire
Acquire

This may be what finally creates the option to rent PC games, something previously only available for console games.

slothboyadvance
slothboyadvance

Maybe in 5 years something like OnLive will do well.