We've talked about OnLive before, and the service impressed us with its seemingly impossible promise: to stream console and computer games to your TV or PC (or Mac) on demand without having to install them. On the console side of things this is even more alluring, as you could play games for the Xbox 360 or PS3 without having to buy either. What's more, your computer's specs wouldn't matter. You'd just need a high-speed Internet connection.
OnLive is finally coming out of the dark and officially launching on June 17th, though not in the big way we hoped. When the service goes live, it'll only allow streaming to either PC or Macs — no TVs, and none of the mobile devices such as the iPhone that OnLive was keen to move on to. OnLive is still teasing its "MicroConsole TV adapter" — the company's console-killer — but there won't be any talk until later in the year.
Still, that doesn't sound so bad, right? Well, here's the catch: the service will feature a $15 monthly fee, but unlike something like Netflix it won't give you unlimited access. You'll have to pay an additional fee for buying a game and even for just renting it. For your base subscription, it's not clear if you're getting any actual content. Demos, maybe.
Will it work? Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann isn't so sure:
"I'll be interested to give this another shot at some point, but I remain very skeptical. Last time I was able to actually play a game via OnLive, it seemed like a neat idea that would never work for action games that value split-second timing, such as Burnout Paradise, which is what I played when I saw it. But paying a monthly fee, then paying additional rental/purchase fees, just so I can play a latent version of a game doesn't replace having actual hardware in your home. If that problem hasn't been solved, then it's hard to imagine OnLive appealing to anyone other than less-discerning players who wouldn't know any better."
Outside of things, we're with him. Those fees — especially the one for just a rental — on top of a subscription is a huge turn-off. If it really does erase dependence on specific consoles, however, that'd be something to take another look at.