OnLive was the poster child for cloud gaming, before its disasterous collapse. But today, after nearly a full year of radio silence, the company which proved that you can play games over the internet has emerged with a new business model. Instead of selling digital copies of games which you can only access through the OnLive network, the company has now launched a unique partnership with Steam to let you stream PC games you already own for a $14.99 monthly subscription. Because the service interfaces with Steam to sync savegames and DLC, you can pick up right where you left off on your computer.
OnLive is done trying to compete with Steam
The new service is called Cloudlift, and it's fairly limited to start. So far, OnLive has only signed two major publishers to offer a total of 20 games, with "dozens more" titles inbound. However, those publishers do include Warner Bros, which has agreed to include all three of the popular Batman: Arkham games, as well as the recent The Lego Movie Videogame.
The company also says it'll be vastly easier to convince publishers to put games on the service, telling VentureBeat that OnLive now works without the need to modify games. Previously, publishers had to sell games through OnLive's storefront, let OnLive modify the game code to transmit user commands over the internet, and more. Now, it sounds like they can simply give OnLive permission to stream them from a server running Steam — which coincidentally had recently been updated to add controller and short-range streaming support.
"The new strategy is providing complimentary services," new OnLive executive chairman Mark Jung told The Wall Street Journal.
In addition to the $14.99 Cloudlift subscription, OnLive will continue to offer a Netflix-like back catalog of 250 older titles for $9.99 a month, with no need to purchase individual games before you stream, as well as a new service called OnLive Go catered towards MMOs that require giant downloads, theoretically letting you experience them instantly instead of waiting for those downloads to complete. The first title there, a version of Second Life that can be viewed on tablet, smart TV or laptop, costs an steep $3 hour to play according to PCWorld.
However, it sounds like OnLive is experimenting with all of these price points. "$14.99 seemed like the right pirce to start with," new VP of product and marketing Rick Sanchez told Ars Technica. "We hope that we've got the right price for it. Time will tell."
"We hope that we've got the right price for it. Time will tell."
In addition to the new offerings, OnLive has a new HTML5 interface that felt extremely sluggish in a quick test, and which no longer allows you to try games for free before signing up for a subscription. You can still record hilarious "Brag Clips" of your recent exploits, though, and spectate other people as they play, both features which OnLive pioneered before Microsoft and Sony's recent attempts to take them mainstream. The service still works on Windows, Mac, and Android devices, as well as the company's own microconsole, but iOS support is still in the offing.
OnLive moves into these revamped business ventures with two new data centers in Seattle and Chicago and a brand-new management team, including Mark Jung, a former co-founder and CEO of IGN and CEO of Vudu, Carrie Holder, a former director of partner management at Electronic Arts, Rick Sanchez, another IGN co-founder and former VP of Playdom, and Don Gordon, an inventor who was a former VP at Gracenote.