OnLive: The Lan Center Killer!

Okay, I’ve heard alot about this service.  I’ve had a lot of people ask my opinion on it, and I’ve always said, “I doubt it will change much.”  Well, I finally bit the bullet signed up for an account and began gaming.  I used the computer client for my purposes, but they do have a micro-console available.

First, below is the recommended system requirements for the computer client.

  • Internet Connection: 5 Mbps wired or Wi-Fi connection
  • Operating System: Windows® 7 or Vista (32 or 64-bit) or XP SP3 (32-bit)
  • Mac® OS X 10.6 or later
  • Computer: Dual-core PCs, all Intel-based Macs
  • Screen Resolution: 1280×720

All extremely modest numbers.  Except maybe the 5Mbps for the internet connection.  Where I currently reside it can still get pretty pricey to get speeds faster then 3Mbps down.  And that’s for approximately 65% of the state.  But on Average to get a connection of that speed or higher it will run a person ~$40+ a month just for the internet connection.  Specifications on the system I used were that of a gaming rig (In fact its a gaming rig that was once used in one of my Centers).  Just a brief run down of what I tested on: Phenom 2 X4 950, 4G Ram, Nvidia 250GTS, 500G Hard Drive. All behind a 20Mbps/2Mbps (Down/Up speeds respectively) internet connection.  I was the only computer on the network at the BEGINNING of testing.

Okay first impression, game selection sucks. Until they get some decent shooters on there the program isn’t going to be that large of a draw honestly.  Everyone knows that has run a game center, or hell even a seasoned gamer.  There are three staples to PC Gaming, those are Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, Real Time Strategies, and Shooters.  Approximately 90 percent of games that are main stream and immensely popular fall into one of those three categories at some level.  Consoles don’t even touch MMORPGS, or RTS’s effectively so Shooters are extremely popular on Consoles.  But because of the obviously lack of controls the other two categories don’t fair so well.  Consoles make up for that in Sports, Racing, and action adventure games.  So my ruling on game selection, wait until more is available.  They aren’t going to nose anyone out of anything until they get a better selection PERIOD.

Price of the games is the next on my agenda.  You have three options rental, purchase, and the playpack. They aren’t going to win anyone by doing a brick-n-mortar style rental policy and they have this policy in place which its about the same price and time periods as you would get from a brick-n-mortar store.  Screw that I’ll stay with game-fly and live on my schedule not yours.  You also have the ability to purchases the game, which is cool much better then the rental option but you don’t get any tangible goods, not even a download.  You just get the right to play the game anytime you feel like it.  Price breaks aren’t any better then just buying the game at wal-mart either (well some I could see there was a slight price difference the retail but, steam gives me better deals and I actually get a download and can play offline).    The playpack is the third option and the option I think they need to spend the most time developing if they are going to get me upset at all.  Think of it like netflix streaming you pay 10 bucks a month and you get access to play anytime you want throughout the month any game they have in the playpack catalog.  But when your catalog is ~40 titles big and you cut that down even less in the playpack subscription well it just doesn’t get me excited.  But, I can see this being a big deal once their catalog expands.

My game experience was “Decent”. It felt like I was playing a game on a remote computer on my gigabit network through VNC Viewer.  Action adventure titles were enjoyable because they were steady progressing games and didn’t require hair-trigger response times but once you start playing games that did require hair-trigger response time latency issue reared their ugly head.  This platform didn’t lend to shooters very well.  I also would have random lag spikes and the screen would pause for a few moments and then catch up with itself.  But, for being a new service on my 20Mbps connection the experience wasn’t painful.  So I decided to make my internet more on par with your average user I used my router to throttle through-put on my network to 10Mbps Max.  While I was the only person doing ANYTHING on the network there were no issues whatsoever other then what was described before.  Then suddenly I started getting tons pixelated screens and lag.  To only later discover my wife was in the bedroom streaming netflix on the PS3.  Hrm, I personally always though Netflix would throttle itself before affecting QoS for other users on the network.  Well my wife was also streaming pandora through wifi on her blackberry (Yes my wife does this she listens to music and watches tv at the same time).    Still this shouldn’t be affecting my OnLive experience that greatly so I began checking network logs to find who was the culprit on my network pulling the bandwidth.  And lo and behold avast was the guilty party downloading virus definition updates on a spare computer of mine.   So in short at 10Mbps your experience is fine as long as no body, program, computer,  or evil elf with a netbook is on your network using your bandwidth for ANYTHING else other then OnLive.

To sum up my experience with OnLive its a great service I hope to see continue to grow, but its not a Lan Center killer and even if it was as big as NetFlix I still don’t think it would hold a candle to the social experience Lan Centers provide.  The big gaping problem I see with OnLive right now is definitely the catalog.  You also won’t see me buying a game from them because if they fold I have absolutely nothing to show for it.  You pay brick-n-mortar retail and you never actually have true ownership of your game.
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Comments

  1. You need to work on your run-on sentences, because sometimes I don’t know wtf you are trying to get across.

  2. I’ll keep that in mind. Honestly, not that great at grammar. My degree is in Computer Science. Give me something that requires a lot of coding and I can show you perfect syntax there.

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