OnLive FAQ: Everything You Need To Know
The new OnLive gaming service is now live in the UK – we thought we’d have a look to see exactly what this could gaming is all about.
The OnLive MicroConsole enables you to play OnLive on an HDTV.
What is OnLive?
OnLive is a new on demand gaming service that enables gamers to play high-end PC games without the need for a gaming-spec PC or even to download the games.
When does OnLive launch?
OnLive Launches in the UK and Europe on 22 September. It launched last year in the US.
How does OnLive work?
OnLive exists in the cloud. That is to say all the game data is stored externally on a server and then video is streamed in real time to the player’s browser, set top box or app.
In this way all the processing work is done at the server’s end and you can play high-end PC games on relatively low-spec hardware.
What do I need to play?
You can play via a PC or Mac browser (a small app download), an iPad, iPhone and Android app and with the OnLive ‘MicroConsole’ set top box that plugs directly into an HDTV.
How fast will my internet connection need to be?
OnLive recommends a minimum broadband speed of 3Mbps, although BT (see below) is advising a minimum of 5Mbps for HD-quality graphics.
The average actual UK broadband speed is 5Mbps.
10 second Brag Clips can be recorded to show the world how good you are at games.
How much will it cost?
You can play games on OnLive by purchasing a PlayPass for a specific game. This grants you unlimited access to a game for a specified period of time: 3 days, 5 days and ‘full’.
A ‘full period’ is defined as “as long as OnLive supports a game”. OnLive told us that it expects to support games while people are playing them, but also said that it would support games for a minimum of 3 years from when they’re released on OnLive.
However, some games, Deus Ex Human Revolution for example, cannot be played in 3 and 5-day options and are only available to buy as the ‘full’ option.
Prices vary depending on the game but, for example, Batman: Arkham Asylum’s pricing is £3.49, £4.99 and £14.99 for the 3-day, 5-day and full packages.
In addition to the PlayPass option, there’s also a PlayPack subscription model that, for a flat monthly rate, gives unlimited access to a specified library of recent, indie and classic games. The PlayPass option costs £6.99 a month, and includes games such as Just Cause 2, Deus Ex (the original), Borderlands and BioShock. The full list of PlayPack games is here.
To play the games via a browser (PC/Mac) is free and the iPhone, Android and iPad apps are free to download as well.
The OnLive Game System (a MicroConsole with 1 controller) costs £69.99. The OnLive Wireless Controller can’t be bought seperately at present.
Can I play demos before I decide what to buy?
Yes. Almost every game on OnLive has a demo version. Demos let you play the game for up to 30 minutes.
What resolution does OnLive run games at?
This depends on your broadband connection. OnLive will automatically adjust the resolution according to your broadband speed. You’ll need a minimum of 5Mbps to get a resolution of 720p.
The OnLive MicroConsole can be set to output at 720p, 1080i, 1080p display, although we’ve yet to see anything that looks like it’s running in 1080p.
Does OnLive support surround sound?
Yes. If the game supports surround sound, then it’ll play through OnLive. You can connect OnLive to your amp via HDMI or optical.
If these are PC games, can I change the graphics options?
No. OnLive automatically sets the options to the highest settings for each game and these cannot be altered. You can still change options such as controls and sound, however.
How can I get OnLive?
You can sign up for a free account right now on the OnLive website. This will give you your OnLive equivalent of a GamerTag and register you for the service. You’ll also be able to play demos.
You can then buy games on demand or purchase the equipment on the site as of the 22 September.
You can download the OnLive iPad, iPhone and Android apps via the iStore or the Android Market for free. Although these have not been released yet.
OnLive has also partnered exclusively with BT. BT will be offering OnLive as part of its broadband packages. BT broadband customers are being offered the OnLive PlayPack option for free for the first three months of OnLive’s UK launch.
Here’s a link to BT OnLive page.
Arena lets you browse and watch what other gamers are playing.
How many games are available?
OnLive has announced that over 100 games will be available at launch in the UK, although the full line up won’t be revealed until the day of launch.
What versions of the games are available?
OnLive streams PC versions of games. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this.
PC versions generally offer better graphics than their console equivalents but this also means that console-exclusive games like Gears Of War 3 and Uncharted 3 won’t be available on OnLive.
Well, not yet, anyway.
Another advantage of using PC hardware is that as the tech and the games upgrade, so will the OnLive tech, so you’ll always get the best version each game.
What games are coming to OnLive this year?
OnLive hasn’t confirmed a full line up yet, but so far the list includes Batman: Arkham City, Lord Of The Rings: War In The North and Saint’s Row: The Third.
Are there any major games not coming to OnLive?
Of this winter’s major releases there are some pretty big omissions. Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim and Battlefield 3 have so far not been announced for OnLive.
How do I control OnLive games?
If you’re playing on a PC or Mac you can control games with a mouse and keyboard.
There are also two official OnLive controllers available: the OnLive Wireless Controller and the OnLive Universal Controller. However, the Universal Controller is due to be released ‘soon’.
The former is for use with the OnLive set top box, while the latter is used with PC/Mac and iPhone, Android, and iPad OnLive apps.
Can I use other controllers with OnLive?
Yes, you can play OnLive with the Xbox 360 wired and wireless controllers, Logitech’s ChillStream, Saitek’s P3200 Rumble Pad and the MadCatz GamePad.
OnLive can be played on iPad, iPhone and Android tablets via a free app.
Can I use touchscreen controls while playing OnLive games on iPad?
Yes and no. Some games will support touchscreen controls on iPad, iPhone and Android tablets. This is more likely to be the case with modern games, but less likely with older ones.
However, for the best control, you’ll want to use the Universal Controller.
Can I use a mouse and keyboard wth the OnLive MicroConsole?
Yes, any USB keyboard and mouse will plug into the MicroConsole, which will be very useful for playing strategy games.
Does OnLive support multiplayer gaming?
Yes. Online multiplayer games are playable over the internet, and split screen multiplayer games are supported as well. Obviously you’ll need additional controllers to do this.
Is there anything I can do with OnLive that I can’t do with Xbox Live, Steam or PSN?
Yes, you can watch other people playing games on OnLive. This is useful for checking out a prospective purchase or seeing how good (or bad) your friends are at games.
You can also record a ‘Brag Clip’ video of something cool you’ve done in a game and share it with friends.
There’s also in-game chat in OnLive, although it doesn’t offer cross game chat like Xbox Live.
How does OnLive store my game saves?
All your game saves are stored in the cloud. They can be accessed remotely on any OnLive device. So you could use your OnLive game save at a friend’s house.
Does OnLive have acheivements?
Yes, as long as the game in question supports them.
This all sounds too good to be true. Does OnLive really work?
Well, we’ve seen a preview version and it works. OnLive does suffer from some lag (slow down) issues, which is pretty important when playing some games. We’ll be reviewing OnLive in the next few days, so look out for our verdict then.
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