OnLive review

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 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.

OnLive MicroConsole
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.

HDMI cable
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.

Free game
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
Ethernet cable

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.


  • wulibo - March 1, 2011 12:01 a.m.

    the visuals wouldn't matter THAT much to me, but why would they launch this with so few games??? they'd better get a lot more games, and new ones, if they want me as a customer.
  • jm42445 - February 2, 2011 3:08 p.m.

    Kinda reminds me of the old Sega Channel during the Genesis days
  • showson1 - January 6, 2011 11:24 p.m.

    You guys are being way too harsh.. Yes the visuals are slightly fuzzy, but the fact that you never have to upgrade your PC again and you can take your laptop with you and pick up your game from anywhere (as long as you have an Internet connection) make me say who cares about slightly hazy visuals. I've been playing the crap out of two games on OnLive on my PC and the only slight lag I've ever seen was in cut scenes.. I've never had any lag that caused issue with playing the games. A few years ago I used to spend SO much money upgrading my PCs so I could play newer games and, with this set up, that is a thing of the past. As far as the library goes, it just started out.. even Netflix had a lame library when it first started. It doesn't have a LOT of games, but the ones it does have are great. And they don't cost as much as the actual disc, I've gotten two games and they were only $20 each for unlimited play. I'm definitely going to order the set to box (after I recover from Christmas) especially since it's only $66 right now. Anyone that hasn't tried it, sign up for free and try out some free demos it is ABSOLUTELY worth it.
  • spoggs - December 28, 2010 10:56 p.m.

    Unless you have an internet connection right next to your TV you will have to buy several more expensive pieces of equipment to make it work (i.e. ethernet bridge, wireless router). Why would the "world's premiere gaming system" not have the technology needed already built in to the little black box ?
  • CoD - December 12, 2010 1:17 a.m.

    I think that an excellant ability for an upgraded version of this console (On top of more advanced graphics) would be for them to come out with their own type of blank discs which you could burn your purchased games on (along with either equipping the console itself with a device to put the games on it or a separate device that would accomplish it). This way, if your games ever do get deleted, you have the peace of mind to simply go to the shelf, grab the disk of your game, and put it back on the console. I'm not very sure of this being possible yet, but let me know what you think.
  • Spybreak8 - November 29, 2010 8:43 p.m.

    It's a great alternative to rent games for the PC, here I'm talking about just the browser though. I don't know why they don't let you rent games for the PC other than "piracy". As for buying the console, I think you're better off getting a 360 or Wii near that price/amount of quality games offered.
  • ThatGuyFromTV - November 24, 2010 8:15 p.m.

    you're basically condemning the system by telling everyone not to buy it. You know that, right?
  • thefreakysurgeon - November 23, 2010 7:55 p.m.

    probably never will lay a finger on this. not that i think it's bad, i just don't feel the need of having or playing one.
  • foxyexplosion - November 23, 2010 7:49 p.m.

    Im just wondering how its doing on wifi. When i tried it out when it came out I couldnt play anything on wireless (which is unfortunately my only real option) it was just really slow and chuggy. If they fixed that its probably super awesome.
  • philipshaw - November 23, 2010 7:03 p.m.

    I tried it out and it's okay but the fuzzy graphics and lag put me off paying for it. Also the pricing is stupid,$30 for Dark Void? I got that game for half that price.It does seem like a brilliant idea but I think it's a couple of years early to be successful
  • xerroz - November 23, 2010 4:12 p.m.

    its pretty good for demos and rentals since you dont have to download anything. but im not a big fan of paying $ for air. I dont even trust Steam with digital purchases
  • Syncmaster - November 23, 2010 2:38 p.m.

    it has potential. what I liked most is the ability to rent games. but how does that work? you can play the game for 2 days or something? if it is, its pretty good, you rent a game real time, no walks, calls or nothing.
  • StrayGator - November 23, 2010 9:56 a.m.

    It's the cheapest entry option for "real"/"hardcore" gaming. I, being a techhead + graphics whore, am not the target audience, neither are most of GR readers/commenters. Still, I wish so much for this to succeed. Captcha: well-read drablea
  • NLHawkeye - November 23, 2010 9:14 a.m.

    I don't get it, the games are just as expensive as retail versions (okay maybe a little cheaper?) so why would you buy this. When I first heard about OnLive I thought they were gonna use subscriptions (say 10$ a month), so you could play all of the games in the catalogue? (I would definitely look into something like that, if it were available)
  • Jaces - November 23, 2010 6:31 a.m.

    I've been saying that for years, how it would be awesome to see what your friends were doing in whatever game they were playing. That's the only thing I saw that I really liked. But for now I'll stick to our current hardware and disc based games. I'm an avid collector and I can always find great deals. Digital distribution is cool and all but it's not really showing enough to grab and reel me in....maybe sometime down the road I can definitely see this taking off just as long as it doesn't replace my beloved bluray and DBgames.
  • JohnDagger - November 23, 2010 6:23 a.m.

    Cool controller, it's like a 360 controller fucked a PS3 controller, but it turns out the PS3 controller is having an affair with a tv remote, but in a strange medical miracle it got pregnant with both controller's seeds and they fused together giving birth to this thing...nice thumb sticks though.
  • Imgema - November 23, 2010 6:15 a.m.

    What if a game you like on this thing isn't available anymore? What about game collections and ownership? What about being able to take your disc at a friend's machine and play it there? What if i don't have an internet connection for some time? I don't mind this as an alternate way to play games, but i just don't want it to become the only way in the future. I want to own the games i buy and i want to have them available at all times. Also, i don't like the "spying" idea. What if i just want to relax and explore a game mindlessly? Does that mean that i will have someone over my back rating my boring play?
  • DynamicJul - November 23, 2010 5:50 a.m.

    I agree with sleepy92ismypsn, I like collecting games too as hard copies. I want to be able to own something and can play even 15 years later.
  • spideralex90 - November 23, 2010 4:55 a.m.

    I really like the idea behind this, plus the games are like $30 instead of $60. But the catalogue kills it for me. I already own half of the titles. Once they expand the catalogue and after i see how well multiplayer ends up going, maybe i'll get it.
  • KaiokenKid - November 23, 2010 4:34 a.m.

    While its not great now, I think this is something that needed to be done in order for something like this to take off at a later time. there atleast brining it to the attention of everyone, and now they can evolvee it with future stuff. You gotta start somewhere.

Showing 1-20 of 41 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000