OnLive isn't back because it never left, but it is making headlines today by introducing several new services that it hopes can get it back on top of the video game streaming heap. First the company revealed that former IGN chief Mark Jung is its new executive chairman, and that it has launched OnLive Go and CloudLift. It has been working on this new technology since 2012 when the company fired most of its staff, sold itself to an investment firm and reformed under the same name.
CloudLift, which apparently is supported by Valve's Steam digital distribution platform, allows those willing to pay nearly $15 a month to stream games that they have already purchased on PCs, Macs, and Android-based micro-console devices like Ouya, GameStick, and Nvidia's Shield. The games from your Steam account are actually played from OnLive's server farms, and your progress is synced with your Steam cloud-save game file. OnLive promises 720p resolutions running at 60 frames per second.
There are a number of caveats; game developers have to agree to allow this to happen with their games and those games need to support Steam's cloud-based save system. You will also need a minimum connection of at least 2Mbps with optimal performance available on 5Mbps connections. Games that support this service right now include Batman: Arkham Asylum GOTY, Batman: Arkham City GOTY, Batman: Arkham Origins, Darksiders II, Dead Island GOTY, Dead Island: Riptide, LEGO The Lord of the Rings, Metro 2033, Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition, MX vs. ATV Reflex, Painkiller: Hell and Damnation, Red Faction: Armageddon, Saints Row IV, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Strike Suit Zero, The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles, The LEGO Movie Videogame, The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief, Truck Racer, and Type: Rider.
There are plenty of articles about the new services, but CVG's is probably the most frank in pointing out that OnLive's new plans face a lot of challenges and its hubris in the past may make getting publishers, developers, and platform holders to cooperate a difficult endeavor. While OnLive says that no publisher it has spoken to has said "no," it admits that it has a lot of work to do.
The other service OnLive is pushing is called OnLive Go; it is basically a business-to-business service similar to what competitor Gaikai offered before being bought by Sony. OnLive Go lets publishers stream game demos and full games to consumers, but does not force the company to take on the OnLive brand. Basically the technology is used by the publisher to serve up game content but they can name the service whatever they like…
OnLive is still offering the original service it launched with a few years ago that allowed consumers to buy games directly from them. Games purchased through OnLive receive seven days of CloudLift service for free.
While we wish OnLive all the best, we can't help but remember this story about how the company unceremoniously fired the staff and took away all of their benefits following a bizarre all-hands meeting way back in 2012. Let's hope the company's new leadership treats its employees a lot better than it did in 2012.