OnLive's Subscription Service Exits Beta; Now Comes the Hard Part

By  |  Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm

The free ride is over for OnLive PlayPack, the streaming game service’s all-you-can-play package.

PlayPack now costs $10 per month, with the first month free, and currently includes 38 games. OnLive had been giving subscription access away since December to owners of its $99 Microconsole, a small set-top box and controller for playing through televisions. Presumably, the service will now be available to PC gamers as well. If you cancel the service, OnLive will hang onto your data for a year.

OnLive’s claim to fame is its ability to instantly stream video games to low-end computers as compressed audio and video, using servers that handle all the heavy lifting remotely. (My experience was functional, but flawed.) But the subscription plan could be the most disruptive part of the package if it can gain more games on a regular basis.

Most of the games available for PlayPack now are at least a couple years old. One of them, Aliens vs. Predator Classic, dates back to 2000. The challenge for OnLive PlayPack is not just to add more games, but to keep its lineup fresh.

OnLive does have a few gems available now, such as the 2007 blockbuster Bioshock, the indie hit World of Goo and Ninja Blade, a game whose high points may not be worth the cost of admission alone, but are certainly worth experiencing as part of a subscription plan. (That’s the advantage of the smorgasbord approach, after all.)

Back when OnLive announced the subscription plan, Games and Media Vice President John Spinale said more games would be incoming on a weekly basis. I’ve reached out to the company to find out whether that’s still the case. A press release from OnLive simply says they’ll be adding future games based on “member requests, feedback and suggestions,” along with a desire to shine a spotlight on underexposed indie games.



2 Comments For This Post

  1. MarvelvsCapcom 3 Fan Says:

    The microconsole for 99 dollars seems like a cool idea, the only problem I see is that there are only 38 games. While this service only includes games that are relatively old, I don't see this becoming popular. Some people argue that these types of steam survices are the future, I don't think they'll be the future until they are able to provide the newest game releases right on release, which will probably not happen since it would be bad business for the developers because everyone would just subscribe to this service and not buy a physical or digital copy of their game, so therefore they make less money. For example, I would want to play marvel vs capcom 3 right when it arrives on February 15th and so I would rather buy it then wait until it's released on this service. Although this service can have potential, atm it's at the very least not suitable for hardcore gamers, casual gamers possibly.

  2. Arik Jones Says:

    It will continue to take time to build up their game library. The PlayPack works very much like XBOX Live's Games on Demand. Titles that have traveled the full revenue circle will probably get into the PlayPack while others that still fly off the shelves will be available for individual purchase. Netflix brings a similar approach with their Watch Instantly offering.