Back in June, OnLive introduced its groundbreaking video-gaming service and users began streaming first-run, console-quality games from top-tier publishers to users via broadband, opening the option to play live, online, on-demand on the screen of their choice, without being burdened by bulky consoles, disks or downloads. Today, the developer firm announced that it will start offering its new ‘Play Pack’ subscription program for a flat rate of $9.99 a month on January 14, 2011.
It's speculated that the OnLive subscription service is set to follow in Netflix' successful footsteps, attracting users who don’t necessarily want to dish out a lot of money for one title, but don’t mind paying a monthly fee to sample a bunch of games. The ‘Play Pack’ option will be free for the next six weeks in beta mode. After that, OnLive will start charging subscription fees, though users may cancel at any time.
Granted, gaming enthusiasts on the ‘Play Pack’ plan won’t be able to play the newest-release, premium games, but what they will gain is unlimited access to a Cloud-based library of high-quality, recent games (which are perhaps six months old or so), and brand-new indie games, as well as classic games. Of course, OnLive will also continue to offer sale & rental of premium, new-release titles, priced a la carte.
In an interview, OnLive’s chief executive, Steve Perlman, said he believes there will be about 40 games in the Play Pack by the time of its official launch in January. Current Play Pack titles include Prince of Persia, NBA 2K10, Tomb Raider: Underworld, Fear 2, Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X., Unreal Tournament 3, Vin Diesel Wheelman, LEGO Batman, Defense Grid Gold, Saw, and World of Goo.
“In this economy, you want to offer the users a lot of options,” Perlman observed. “This is all about reducing friction that stops a consumer from picking up a game and playing it.” The distinction between its ‘Play Pass’ (a la carte purchases) and ‘Play Pack’ (flat rate) payment options is similar to a comparison of Netflix’ service model and that of Apple’s iTunes store. Presumably, combining the two options will vastly broaden OnLive's marketplace potential by providing maximum flexibility for people to try or buy video games.
Perlman also said that OnLive is now shipping its first batch of proprietary hardware pieces to consumers who placed the first preorders in mid-November. Its $99 ‘MicroConsole’ game system is a small, plug-in adapter that allows users to play high-definition games (likewise streamed online) on their flat-panel TVs, while users who play on PC/Mac computer with monitor have no need for the unit.
So, it remains to be seen how OnLive’s more affordable hardware option may impact the popularity of other (markedly more expensive) consoles currently on the market.
OnLive , based in Palo Alto, Calif., was founded nine years ago and is now 200 employees strong. The company’s investors (who recently valued the company at $1.1 billion) include Warner Bros., Autodesk, Maverick Capital, AT&T, British Telecommunications and The Belgacom Group.