How Does it Work?
Instead of having to purchase hardware from a vendor and take it home, OnLive works by rendering the game video using sophisticated servers in data-centers located across the United States and the video that results will be pushed over the internet to a TV or computer. It is different (in theory) than video compression for YouTube because the algorithm is designed to compensate for an actively changing screen with low amounts of video latency. Currently there is a one millisecond delay to decompress the video (0.001 of a second) that is nearly unnoticeable to human perception according to OnLive execs.
OnLive is compatible with Mac, PC, or your home TV via a small box with inputs for controllers and outputs for video. At GDC 2009 it was mentioned (in aside) that the box may be subsidized with long-term subscriptions as it was a very inexpensive piece of equipment. For computer play, no advanced graphics are required. To run OnLive from either a Mac or PC, a simple and small browser plugin is required to start playing right away.
For a 480p video output, an internet connection with speed of 1.5 Mbp/s is required. For 720p screen resolution, you'll need a 5Mbp/s connection. On February 8th, 2011 Onlive announced that SRS 5.1 surround sound was available for select games.
The MicroConsole launched at $99. The basic package included the proprietary wireless controller and an HDMI cable.
PlayPass (Unlimited Access)
Onlive offers multiple "PlayPass" plans where users can buy a pass (worth up to $39.99) for unlimited access to a single game. They also offer limited time passes (in 3 or 5-day installments) that let users play a particular game for a few days.
PlayPack (Monthly Rentals)
The Playback monthly subscription plan officially launched on February 1st, 2011 for a flat rate of $9.99 per month. Under PlayPack, users will get unlimited access to a selected library of games every month.
Confirmed Publishers Working with OnLive
Partnership with VIZIO
At CES 2011, it was announced that the OnLive service would be included in VIZIO products, including televisions, Blu-Ray players, tablet computers and mobile phones.
Acquisition by Sony and Shutdown
On April 3, 2015, OnLive announced that "important parts" of the OnLive service had been acquired by Sony, and that the service would shut down on April 30, 2015.