Gaming in the Cloud with OnLive

gaming in the cloud with onlive

There are many skeptics out there saying that an online, cloud-based gaming platform like OnLive wouldn’t work. Well, apparently it can, it does, and I’ve been playing with it for close to 30 hours and having a ball. Let’s talk a bit about OnLive this week.

Playing Crysis on a Netbook

OnLive is gaming in the cloud. You don’t download the game, rather you actually play it on OnLive’s hardware through your enhanced browser. While this may sound lame, it actually works rather well if you have enough bandwidth. Generally, you need a fairly good high speed connection to make this work right; using this service over any wireless network is currently not an option as its blocked right now. However a DSL connection, according to a friend of mine using one, is acceptable, while my high-end Comcast connection works surprisingly well.

gaming in the cloud with onlive howitworksSince you are running the game on OnLive’s hardware, all you need in order to play it is a PC running a current-generation browser and dual-core CPU or better. Some connected netbooks can even run Crysis. Also, since you are running the game centrally, the system remembers where you saved your game so you can log off mid-game on one machine and log back in on another and pick up just as if you had been playing on the same machine. So if you’ve been blasting away at home and have some free time at work you can pick up where you left off and continue your adventure. It’s actually kind of cool.

The OnLive Experience

The experience is better than I expected. The company tunes your connection to limit lag, and I haven’t noticed any significant game degradation. It is dependent on your network connection though, and if you have issues you’ll likely lose your connection. You won’t be playing this on a plane anytime soon, for instance.

I played a wide variety of games. They have around 20 and up at the moment, ranging from A-list titles like Batman: Arkham Asylum to independents that I hadn’t heard of. It turns out it is a great way to demo games as well, because you don’t have to download and install them, just play the demo on the service.

gaming in the cloud with onlive onlivegdcInstalling the client takes around 2 to 3 minutes, depending on how fast your computer is. Loading the actual game takes around 15 to 20 seconds on average, so you are gaming fast. You are playing the game remotely, and they are streaming a compressed high-definition image back to you real time, so there is some slight degradation in image quality when taken against a high end gaming machine. For instance, on my nine-screen Eyefinity rig, it would only expand to about 80 percent of the overall screen area. But these are six 22-inch screens, and a massive display that I rarely can see all of anyway, so that wasn’t a problem.

If a virus scan or other process starts up on your PC, the game continues without a hiccup, and it was interesting to note that I could play in Windowed mode and not have any visible impact on anything else that was running.

You buy a game much like you would buy a movie from a streaming service. As with those services, you actually are buying the right to play the game, and you don’t get anything you can sell or physically hold. For me, the tradeoff of being able to play on any PC that had a wired connection anyplace was worth it.

Peeping Tom

The arena function was surprisingly interesting. This is where you can drop in and see the stream from someone else’s game. This is not only kind of fun to watch, but a great way to see if you wanted to buy a game without actually working through a demo.

I found I could open an arena window and leave it running with the RTS game I’m playing, and see if anyone was having luck with a level that was giving me difficulty. Granted, the farther I got in the game, the harder it was to find anyone close to my level, but still it was fun to look up every once awhile and see someone dealing with the massive waves of alien invaders that swarm on the defended positions at the end of each level. You have to be a bit careful, as this can suck up a lot of time.

A Streaming Future

I’m hooked by this service, but realize this is only the beginning of something that could easily grow to be even more amazing. Apple iTunes didn’t have many titles when it started, and my first cable service was OnTV, which was only one channel of movies without even the concept of on-demand. If you can pass through a great gaming experience, why not performance applications that won’t run on your PC, or rather than having to buy a software package you may only use every few months, why not allow you to rent it for a day and run it remotely? I think we are seeing a small glimpse of what OnLive will become, and by the end of this decade we’ll wonder, much like many of us do with cable, how we ever accepted running software or connected games any other way.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.


The Loupedeck Plus custom keyboard will make you feel like a pro video editor

With recently added support for Final Cut Pro X, the Loupedeck Plus improves speed and accuracy for video editors. With a collection of customizable buttons and dials, the Loupedeck can almost completely replace a mouse and keyboard setup.

Monzo will launch its banking app in the U.S., but it may be a hard sell

Monzo, a popular mobile banking app from the U.K., will launch this summer in the United States, but its plan for a slow release and an initially feature-light banking app may be a hard sell for its prospective U.S. customers.

Apple just registered seven new MacBooks, but what are they? Let’s speculate

When Apple registers new devices, that usually means they’re only weeks away from being released. The company has just registered seven new devices -- but are they Airs, Pros or something else entirely?

Amazon cuts prices on Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and Surface Go

The Microsoft Surface series is an excellent alternative to other tablets if you're a dedicated Windows user, and the superb Surface Pro 6 (our favorite 2-in-1) and its cheaper sibling, the Surface Go, are both on sale right now.

Amazon sale drops deals on Microsoft Surface laptops

Despite an increasingly crowded market, the sleek Microsoft Surface laptops have left their mark. Both the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Book 2 are discounted on Amazon right now, too, with deals that can save you up to $300.

If you need your laptop to be large, these ones are most in charge

Whether you're in the market for a mobile workstation or a gaming behemoth, there's probably something in the 15-inch form factor that can fit the bill. Here, we've rounded up the best 15-inch laptops available.

AMD’s Ryzen one-two punch will end with a 64-core Threadripper in 2019

AMD's Threadripper may be set to deliver the killing blow to Intel in Q4 2019, with a rumor suggesting a new Zen 2-based Threadripper line is coming down the pipe with a top chip that has as many as 64 cores.

Need more pixels? These 4K laptops have the eye-popping visuals you crave

If you're looking for the best 4K laptops, you need to find one that has powerful internal hardware, and doesn't scrimp on weight and battery life. All of these 4K notebooks are great options, but which one is the right one for you?

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.

HP's Spectre x360 is a better 2-in-1 than Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 is a clamshell

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is a refresh of Microsoft's clamshell option, an oddity given Microsoft's creation of the modern 2-in-1. The HP Spectre x360 13 is, therefore, an interesting comparison.

Amazon deal drops prices on Asus VivoBook laptops and 2-in-1s

Asus is one of the premier PC brands cranking out Windows ultrabooks today with its sleek VivoBook series, and these Amazon deals let you score one for $700 or less. Read on to find out what we love about these laptops and how you can save.

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Leaked date and what you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a month away, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.

Air, Pro, or just a MacBook? Here's our guide to finding the right Apple laptop

Apple's lineup of MacBooks has started to swell, leaving fans a bit confused about which laptop they should buy. Depending on what you're looking for, we'll point you in the right direction.

15-inch laptops come with extra power, but which of these wields it better?

HP's latest "gem-cut" Spectre x360 15 adds powerful components to make it the fastest 2-in-1 we've ever tested. Can it take on the equally fast and incredibly svelte Dell XPS 15?