OnLive Interview @ EGX 2014

Whilst at EGX 2014 at the end of September, I was kindly invited to meet up with James Beaven (Communications) & Rick Sanchez (VP Product & Marketing), where I got to hear first-hand what OnLive does, and more importantly, see it first-hand.

For those who don’t know, OnLive is a company all about the Cloud, and more specifically, Cloud Gaming – using the power of the Cloud to empower games, improve their convenience and provide new ways of accessing them. With game ownership starting to fade at the hands of digital purchases and the likes of Steam (granting licences to games rather than owning a copy), Cloud Gaming is becoming more and more relevant by the day. It’s also becoming more viable as time progresses, with broadband access and speed on a constant increase.

OnLive provides two main services: PlayPack and CloudLift.

Think of PlayPack as the Netflix of gaming. For a $9.95 monthly subscription, PlayPack grants you access to over 250 games that have partnered with the service, ranging from small games you would expect to see as an Xbox Arcade or Indie game up to heavyweights like Batman: Arkham City. PlayPack allows users to access all of these games on any compatible device (to be covered later in this post) anywhere, anytime, purely using the power of the Cloud. CloudLift offers a similar service, allowing you to access any and all OnLive-supported games that you currently have in your personal Steam library, for the price of $7.95 per month. Save progress in CloudLift games syncs with your local saves. The two services can be combined into the “OnLive Games Bundle” for $12.95 per month.

Also included is the “Spectate” service, allowing you to go in and watch any person currently using the service playing any game, live. It’s very exciting and presents a lot of possibilities.

Playing Arkham Origins using just the power of TV and the Cloud showed the potential that these services have.

What makes it special?

Designed to give you access to your games wherever you are, OnLive’s services are optimised for mobile devices such as the Nvidia Shield and Wikipad, but function just fine on PC and my personal favourite (which was demoed to me) – TV’s.

It sounds rather alien to those who hadn’t heard about this until now, but OnLive is integrating into TV’s and running high-end games solely off the hardware in the TV and the power of the Cloud. The LG G2 series TV comes pre-installed with OnLive and allows you to access your entire catalogue of OnLive games, connect a controller and just get playing, no need to connect a games console or PC. This TV is a dual-core, so it’s not like it’s running Alienware-grade tech, the rest is all being run from OnLive’s Luxembourg center via a broadband connection. Very much like those who apparently came before me, I struggled to believe that I was watching and playing Arkham Origins using just the power of that TV and the Cloud, to the point where I was reminded that the fridge next to it was really just a fridge and not a white box filled with hardware. It really is one of those things you have to see for yourself to fully appreciate how amazing this whole thing is.

Having being kindly granted access to the service to test out myself, I can safely say it’s definitely worth trying out for yourself. Some of the games included are simply ones you would never even think about buying and trying out, but with the subscription granting you access to all the games in the OnLive catalogue, you just try them out on a whim, and end up discovering some really neat games. If you’re not interested because it doesn’t yet contain your favourite games, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on. Seeing where this has come from, what it is now, and where it’s headed, I personally am firmly of the belief that Cloud gaming is the future. It provides convenience, connectivity on a whole new level, and literally empowers you as a player.

The LG G2 series TV is the first TV to come pre-installed with OnLive – Smart TV’s getting even smarter.

OnLive recently entered into a partnership with GreenMan Gaming to offer a 3 day trial of OnLive’s services. If this trial is available in your region, definitely try it out! LINK

It’s also worth noting OnLive’s proud statistic of 5 years with no service downtime.

A lot has happened since EGX, hence the very clear delay in getting this article out (sorry guys!), so some of the information I received may have been lost. That doesn’t matter though. The most important thing you need to know and remember is that I left that room with a very different outlook on the future of gaming. I was astounded by what I saw first-hand, and I urge everyone to at least try to experience Cloud gaming in it’s current form one way or another. It’s not even nearly a perfected concept yet, but the fine folk at OnLive, with their enormous R&D department, and doing a great job of making their vision a reality. Their services, along with the everyday tech that these services depend on, are only going to get better and more amazing as time goes on. Gaming has a very bright future, and I’m now a proud believer that Cloud gaming has a big role to play in that.

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My personal thanks go out to James & Rick for giving up their time to speak to me at EGX.