OnLive is back and this time it's brought Steam along for the ride
Cloud gaming service OnLive has relaunched after several years of dormancy and the new subscription plan will intrigue Steam users and those who like to buy physical copies of games.
Along with a new menu system and cleaner interface, the refreshed OnLive service adds an all-new subscription plan that enables you play games you've bought through other platforms across multiple devices, anywhere you have an internet connection.
Launched today, the CloudLift service costs £9.99 a month with no contract. It currently connects with your Steam account and any participating title you have previously bought - or those you add in the future - will be available to play through OnLive's streaming service too. What's more, as many of the games save games in the cloud, you can pick up where you left off even if you go from a locally stored installation to the OnLive version.
The OnLive versions of compatible games will also utilise your Steam account friends for multiplayer. You will be able to play multiplayer, therefore, as if you were playing on your home PC, but could, for example, be playing on an Android tablet instead.
On initial start-up, the new OnLive will look through your Steam account and highlight any titles you already own. At present, the company has signed deals with just a handful of publishers, although they include Warner Bros and Deep Silver, so the Batman: Arkham trilogy, Saints Row IV and The Lego Movie Videogame are there from the off. It explained to Pocket-lint that, because of the new business model and the way the new subscription service works, other publishers are only weeks if not days away from jumping on board.
One of those mentioned was a tie-in with Origin, Electronic Arts' digital delivery platform, to work in a similar way to Steam. And we would imagine Ubisoft's Uplay is in talks too. Essentially, the only required element is that a game's save points are stored in the cloud, so they can be accessed by OnLive too. Other than that, any game by a publisher big or small can work with the service.
"We take the platforms that are already out there, the ones that support cloud saves specifically," we were told by Bruce Grove, OnLive's general manager. "We have the same games from that platform and you as an OnLive user link your platform of choice to CloudLift. We then see that library and you can now play them on any device.
"And when you hit save on your local device it is synced to the cloud. When you go travelling, with your Macbook or tablet, all you have to do is start OnLive and you carry on where you left off."
As before, OnLive works through numerous connected devices: Android tablets and smartphones, PC, Mac and a the company's own £70 OnLive Game System, which comes with a small console unit and controller. Existing customers retain access to their former games library and the company will continue with its separate PlayPack Bundle subscription service, where you get access to a large library of back catalogue titles for a Netflix-like monthly fee (currently £6.99 a month). It has ditched PlayPass though, so you can no longer rent titles on a one-off basis.
All games are stored on the company's servers in the US or Europe - which work with similar spec to mid to high-end gaming PCs. Video of them in-play is streamed to devices at low latency and 720p at 60 frames per second. Many Xbox One games run at similar resolution and frame rate, so that's good for an industry that prefers smooth running visuals with no frames dropped to extra detail.
"You get into the game and straight away you can see how much smoother it runs," said Grove. "It feels like a local game."
Pocket-lint played Batman: Arkham Origins through the new system and couldn't tell the difference between a copy running locally through Steam or the OnLive equivalent. Both were super smooth and the 60fps gave the cloud version an advantage over the version for Xbox 360, which we've previously completed.
OnLive will be selling keys for games itself, but its new philosophy means that it does not rely on revenues made through retail. Instead, it is now geared to providing a solution for those who want to play their already bought titles either on a large screen TV or through portable devices, even when travelling, and that puts the company in a completely different place to before.
You can find out more information at onlive.co.uk.