It has been about a year-and-a-half since game streaming service OnLive abruptly shut down operations and fired its staff. The company was sold off to an investment firm that kept the lights on, but it was unclear until now what was to become of OnLive. Now OnLive has returned with a new approach to selling you games in the cloud and new management that aims to avoid making the same mistakes twice.

2014-03-05 12_56_54-OnLive Games

The new OnLive will still stream games, but the individual purchases of titles that you can only access through the OnLive cloud are no more (existing users are still supported). Customers made it clear they did not care for that approach. Instead, there are two plans at the new OnLive – PlayPack and CloudLift.

PlayPack is a single $9.99 per month subscription price that gives you access to over 250 games in the cloud. You can stream these titles to mobile devices, computers, and certain TVs. All your saves and settings are stored in the cloud, but there are no game downloads for offline play.


The CloudLift option is a little more expensive at $14.99 per month, but it's also pretty interesting. This service ties in with Steam to let you stream the games you already own to all your devices from the OnLive cloud. It's essentially sharing the licenses you already have, but OnLive will also sell you Steam codes for more games. All your game data will be synced so you can play anywhere without starting over. Unlike the old OnLive system, you own these games forever and can play them normally even if you cancel CloudLift. You're basically paying for the syncing and streaming to more devices. Only 20 games are supported at launch, but more titles and partners will be added in time.

A new take on the MMO is part of the deal too. The so-called OnLive Go system will offer game streaming for MMOs, thus making it easier to level up anywhere. There are only two announced games for OnLive Go right now – War Thunder and a version of Second Life. The new OnLive offers 7-day trials of both subscriptions so you can get a feel for it. You can also sign up for free and try any game for up to 30 minutes.

[OnLive, OnLive Blog, MarketWired]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Matthew Fry

    Interesting approach but honestly... this is going to be great for Shield users and that's it. I'm not going to pay $15/mo to play complex games with on screen controls.

    • RTWright

      The monthly fee thing is ok, but I don't like Cloud streaming. All I can see is laggy issues in game play based off of your own connection and the stability of their servers getting hit by a lot of traffic. I much prefer Steam to this, pay for it, download it, play it all you want as everything is based off of your computer not the Cloud.

      • Sir_Brizz

        This is kind of the best of both worlds, though... if you get ButtLift. When you get games on Steam, you can also stream them. But they are going to have to get the whole Steam library on there before it matters to anyone.

      • Simon Liu

        This is for people without powerful computers.

      • Abram Carroll

        Well you can't buffer, so yes traffic or over selling would be an issue. Newer hardware can do streaming with extremely low latency. less than a console with good internet and a ping under 50ms

    • Kog

      Or, you know, what about a tablet or phone with a controller hooked onto it? You really don't think this is a good idea past Shield? That's foolish talk!

      • supremekizzle

        Yeah, if Google didn't fuck Bluetooth support in the ass when it switched to bluedroid.

    • Thomas’

      Well, it's also interesting for PC/Mac users. $180 a year to play your Steam games without having to invest much money in own hardware? Sounds reasonable (as soon as they add way more Steam games), if you consider the price of a halfway decent graphics card.

    • Nathaniel Webb

      if i'm going the Shield route, I'll do it with my home VPN for free.

  • h4rr4r

    Did they manage to increase the speed of light yet? Or do they intend to stick servers in every major city on earth?

    • Abram Carroll

      The speed of light is 299,792,458m/s and that's plenty fast. The problem was encoding, transfers, network latency. Nvidia did an entirely playable game stream from France to Vegas. Their Grid tech works. I'm guessing Onlive would have some of those servers now.

      • h4rr4r

        The speed of light adds considerable network lag. Remember every button press means a round trip.
        Nvidia did a demo, of course they made it look decent. The problem is simply delay on button press.

        • Abram Carroll

          The speed of light is a very small fraction of network latency. The internet was made with throughput in mind, not latency. The game input latency is lower than consoles in most cases. In fact I've seen Nvidia shield screen update before a TV used as the display for the streaming PC. Adding 20-30ms latency would be comparable to playing on a game console.

          • h4rr4r

            You have to add the latency up. This means TV/Monitor + round trip network + controllers +host box. 20-30ms is already half way to unacceptable.
            What is playable and what I playing an FPS find acceptable are two very different things.

          • Abram Carroll

            It beats a controller + Console + TV. Not as fast as playing on a PC with a good display. It lags about 16 MS behind a PC with a 120hz display for local as seen on 480FPS slowmo and much of that is network latency.
            With multi-player games you have every bodies latency to deal with. This only has your latency.

          • h4rr4r

            In real life it will not beat controller + console+TV.
            It will be totally trounced by a PC.
            No in Multiplayer you only fight your own latency. The server decides where everyone is. This has been this way since we stopped trusting the client, which is just begging for hacking.

          • Abram Carroll

            The server still needs to deal with every clients latency. Streaming games over the internet has less latency then playing on a console. I'm speaking from personal experience. Consoles have bothersome lag and game streaming is better in that respect.
            I have the Nvidia Shield and I stream to hotspots.

            Some people have triple buffering set on their PC's. That adds a lot of latency. It's quite similar in results to that.

            Here is slomo


          • h4rr4r

            Wow, its not as bad as the worst case!
            What an endorsement. EIther way playing something like counterstrike on either one is going to suck.

  • miri

    My games are gone... Lovely. I guess I could start a subscription, hunt them down again and probably keep my saves, but my gaming habits aren't well-suited for a subscription.

    • http://www.fullmoonblog.com/ Flatlinebb

      My games and even save games are still there. I just launched Darksiders and was able to continue. My gaming habits and free time is not well suited for a reoccurring subscription. I'm a little sad about that. But the Steam streaming option looks like it might fill in the space that OnLive left behind, for me at least.

    • Cory

      I was able to reach my games (on PC) by going to the Menu-> (Wrench) Settings -> Quick Launch. They seem to launch fine.

      • miri

        Found it, thank. Odd place for them, but hey...

        • Cory

          I agree. I stumbled upon it in android (easier to find there) which helped.

  • Sir_Brizz

    It seems all the owned games are gone if you had any. This certainly increases my confidence in the platform. Thankfully I hardly spent a penny on there.

  • yousofi

    One word. Splashtop