The idea behind OnLive — that you can stream console, PC and portable games to a variety of devices — shows so much promise, and yet the execution has left a lot to be desired. The worse offense was an odd subscription fee you had to pay on top of buying or renting games. Thankfully, that's gone.
As it stands right now, OnLive wants you to pay to rent or buy a game by purchasing a Play Pass, which will let you access a game to stream on your PC or Mac for a few days or forever. That's reasonable enough, but on top of all that before the service also wanted $15 a month from you.
According to OnLive CEO Steve Perlman, the subscription was never wanted in the first place, but it was a necessary evil at launch:
" we wish we could have confirmed no monthly fee from the get-go, pioneering a major new video game paradigm is hard," Perlman says, "we had to first grow to a large base of regular users before we could understand usage patterns and operating costs. Now that we've reached that stage, we can confidently say a monthly fee is not needed, which deserves a double WOOT! WOOT!"
Now, before you wonder if anyone feels cheated, the subscribers up until now have been part of the site's "founding program," which gave them a full year of the service free. Now it'll be free forever, so no subscriptions were probably charged yet anyway.
All in all, it looks like OnLive could be worth another look. With that subscription fee gone, you can sign up for the service without the need of a credit card and play some free demos if you want to give it a shot.
We'd love to see OnLive move more toward an all-you-can eat formula much like the one Netflix employs (though maybe OnLive doesn't want to seem like an alternate GameFly, a Netflix-like service already in place that sends you titles in the mail). The idea of being able to play Xbox and PS3 games on my PC without having to own the consoles — or future consoles — is enticing indeed.