Author Topic: Why OnLive Sucks... An Independent Review  (Read 2130 times)


  • Administrator
  • Captain
  • *****
  • Posts: 1534
  • Karma: +3/-0
Why OnLive Sucks... An Independent Review
« on: September 26, 2011, 12:50:26 PM »
Executive Summary: It might be on on tablets, the microconsole and underpowered laptops, but it sucks on high-rez devices.  Oh and the terms suck to.

So I tried out OnLive since its just been released in Blighty.  I was a bit ambivalent to be honest since I didn't see me using it a lot even it if it was great, but then I said that about Steam too.

The sign-up process was straight forward, though I would note they only ask for your password once, so if you typo you'll have to use the password recovery option later.  When I completed the sign-up they said they'd send me an email.  I assumed this was a standard verify-your-email address thing, but it turns out it wasn't.

It's almost time to start gaming!

Thank you for creating your free OnLive account. Your Player Tag has been reserved and will be ready for you to use as soon as we finish activating your account. You’ll receive a follow-up email when you have access and can start gaming. It won’t be long.

No links, nothing.  That was 21:10 on the 23rd.  Two and a half hours later I got an Access Granted email

Welcome to OnLive! You’re now ready to start gaming on demand.

We’re excited to have you join the OnLive community and want to help you get started right away. With your free OnLive membership, you can now:

While I was waiting I downloaded and installed the OnLive software, its only a couple of meg and install easily enough.  After the email you end up back at the website to fill in your profile, this is pretty limited to gamer type (casual, hardcore etc) and motto which, for some reason, is not optional.

Now on the website you can browse the games, but you can't buy them.  You can browse and buy in the client but it would have been nice to be able to buy via the website.  What you will find the first time you try and buy via the client is that you'll be directed to the website to enter credit card details first and, as far as I can recall, you can only have one payment method.

Back to the client to complete that purchase and this is where things got worrying.  I had read the ToS etc before signing up and in there it said that OnLive would keep games live for as long as people played them but at a minimum three years, which seems reasonable.  And this was repeated on the purchase confirmation dialog.  

What was worrying was that the purchase confirmation also stated that access to OnLive in the future might not be free and if you didn't want to pay, you'd loose access to any games you'd bought.  That seems a little iffy to me, the theory you could buy a game for full price and then loose access to it the next month because OnLive decided to nuke free accounts sounds a little bait-and-switch to me.

However I continued and purchased Deus Ex Human Revolution Augmented Edition for £1 (a new-signup offer, yhour first full playpass for £1).  The additional non-game content is available for download via the OnLive website in pdf and (IIRC) mp3 format, something I wasn't expecting tbh.  The game itself shows up in your game list on the website and client.

So I fire up the game and the first thing to note is that it runs in a window on the desktop by default.  You can hit alt+enter to full screen it, but the resolution the game runs at doesn't change.  It apears that the client streaches the content of the video feed its receiving to match the resolution of the display, with all the graphical downsides that implies.  A review of game settings and onlive settings shows no graphics related settings available anywhere.  On top of that, it looks like OnLive doesn't apply AA or AF at all, there are jaggies everywhere made worse by the video resizing mentioned above.  There are also very noteable video compression artifacts which combine to provied a very unsatisfying viewing experience.

Gameplay wise, I found myself overshooting in menus and when trying to use lifts etc, though in actual gunfights it seems OK.  I havn't played DX:HR on a PC yet so I can't say if these issues are with the game or with OnLive.  Network wise it seems to use between 3 and 4 Mb/s so should be usable by most.

Overall, if your using the mircoconsole on a TV or want to play on an iPad (if that ever comes out) or low spec laptop, OnLive might be OK.  If you have a PC capable of decent graphics, your probably better buying the games directly, you'll have them longer, get better graphics and you don't have the risk of OnLive suddenly going on-free for the basic accounts.
In the force if Yoda's so strong, construct a sentence with words in the proper order then why can't he?


  • Cider drinker!
  • Administrator
  • Captain
  • *****
  • Posts: 1825
  • Karma: +1/-0
Re: Why OnLive Sucks... An Independent Review
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2011, 07:36:52 AM »
Very interesting review, thanks! Those T&Cs regarding future access do sound very dodgy indeed.