Although OnLive’s cloud gaming service is able to run on almost any computer, the key to success could lie in its MicroConsole, a tiny TV set-top box that’s still unreleased.
That’ll change on December 2, when the OnLive MicroConsole launches for $99 with a controller. One free game will also be included as a holiday promotion, and pre-orders are starting now. Games on the service cost between $4 and $9 to rent and $5 to $50 to “own” (access to the games, which stream from remote servers, is guaranteed for at least three years).
The cost of the MicroConsole is less than I was expecting, but just as interesting, I think, is this line at the bottom of OnLive’s press release:
“In addition to its rental and Full PlayPass plans, later this year OnLive will add a monthly flat-rate plan, providing unlimited access to a broad library of quality games and indie titles.”
I’ve previously written about how OnLive needs an all-you-can-play subscription plan, kind of like the gaming equivalent of Netflix’s Instant Watch. The idea of paying full retail price for streamed media seems shaky, especially for a new business. With a subscription, you don’t stand to lose anything if the service goes away in a few months.
OnLive hasn’t announced how much its subscription plan will cost, or how much of its existing library will be supported. Both details could make or break the service, but so far, OnLive has at least proven willing to tweak its business model. The company first said membership alone, with no games, would cost $15 per month. At launch in June, it dropped the price to $5 per month and gave away the first year free. Then, it eliminated the monthly charge completely. Hopefully OnLive will stay flexible when it announces subscription pricing.
I’ll be testing out the OnLive MicroConsole at home over the next week or so. Stay tuned for a review.