It works. That’s the most impressive part about OnLive’s cloud-based games service. You can sample, rent, and purchase games on-demand. The best part: you won’t need an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or an expensive gaming PC. You won’t even need a disc or time to download and install titles. All the work is done by OnLive’s data centers, which stream the game you’re playing directly to your TV or monitor via your broadband internet connection.
The service has been available via www.OnLive.com since June, 2010. But OnLive game system kits are now available to pre-order and are scheduled to ship on December 2. So, we decided to look at what’s in the box, and find out if the new tech is worth your while.
Above: For $99, you can stream 360, PS3, and PC titles directly to your TV or monitor without any console, discs, installation times, or expensive hardware. Is it too good to be true?
What’s in the box
Here’s what’s included in the OnLive Game System for $99 dollars.
Think of it like a cable box. You connect it to your internet connection and your TV or monitor to use the service. If you prefer a mouse and keyboard to a gamepad, the MicroConsole is compatible with most current USB keyboards and mice.
OnLive wireless gamepad
The controller feels almost identical to an Xbox 360 controller, which is a good thing. There’s also a nice weight to it, which makes it feel like a high-quality product.
If you can’t use the HDMI cable, it’s worth noting that you’ll need to order a special HDMI-to-component cable for $29.99.
It’s also worth noting that a free game is included with your purchase of the OnLive Gaming System, which helps make up for the fact that you’re paying for a service you could be using for free through your browser, right now. Those being said, make sure to browse through OnLive’s complete games catalogue before signing up for the $99 dollar package. There are not a lot of titles to choose from.
Power adaptor for the MicroConsole
Rechargeable battery pack for the gamepad
Two AA batteries for the gamepad
USB cord to sync the wireless gamepad to the MicroConsole
Someone’s watching you
Setting up the OnLive Game System is a snap. First, you’ll need to create an account on the OnLive website. From there, just connect the MicroConsole to our modem and TV or monitor, and you’re in.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the user interface for OnLive is amazing. Click on the Arena option from the main menu and you’ll feel like you’ve just jacked into the gaming equivalent of the Matrix. Dozens of screens stream games in progress from other OnLive users – and you can click on any of them to watch what other players are up to.
Above: OnLive’s Arena lets you join any game in progress as a spectator. Spying on other players is a little creepy. But it’s also one of the coolest things you can do with the service*
Above: Spectating in the Arena mode. Notice the smudges all over the textures. This screenshot was taken from the PC version of OnLive's service, which was comparable to the resolutions we saw with the OnLive Game System*
The voyeuristic act of spying on other players is a little creepy at first. As a spectator, you can vote on the player you’re watching by giving him a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. It’s all part of OnLive’s push to promote its internal social gaming network, which also allows players to record, post, and share video clips of their conquests.