Announced in 2009 and launched on June 17, 2010, OnLive was a cloud-based video game streaming service created by OnLive, Inc. The first major cloud gaming service, OnLive streamed video of games and demos to a user and received their inputs in return, effectively allowing the game to be played without it being installed to or processed by the player's device. The OnLive client also had a number of additional features, such as game trailers and achievements, as well as social features such as messaging, live streaming, and "brag clips", short gameplay clips uploaded by users.
At launch, OnLive required a $15 monthly subscription to use. On top of the monthly subscription fee, games had to be purchased individually for a separate cost, as either 3-day or 5-day rentals, or a "Full PlayPass" comparable to buying a game in full. However, by October 2010 the monthly subscription requirement was removed, with OnLive founder Steve Perlman stating that the monthly fee was a precautionary measure that was no longer necessary. In December of the same year, a new monthly subscription system named "OnLive PlayPack" was introduced in a beta testing state, offering access to a selection of games for $10 a month.
In August 2012, OnLive, Inc. filed for bankruptcy and transferred its assets to a new company also named OnLive, Inc., with former CEO Steve Perlman stepping down from the company. In March 2014, OnLive introduced a new "CloudLift" feature, which attempted to give users streaming access to compatible games which they own elsewhere, as well as offering Steam keys for certain game purchases made through the service.
On April 2, 2015, it was announced that OnLive had sold all of its patents to Sony, with OnLive ceasing operations on April 30, 2015.
At launch, OnLive was only compatible with PC and Mac via a desktop client, although a browser-based client was eventually released. In December 2011, support was expanded to include Android devices, however no iOS support was introduced, despite demos of the service featuring the iOS. Later partnerships would bring the service to a number of smart TVs, as well as seeing the service marketed alongside BT Group broadband services in the United Kingdom.
In November 2011, OnLive began taking pre-orders for the OnLive Game System, a $99 bundle consisting of a "MicroConsole" and wireless controller designed specifically for access and use of OnLive's streaming service. The hardware did not offer any special features or exclusive access to OnLive services, although users who pre-ordered the hardware received a coupon for "Full PlayPass" access to a game of their choice on the service. Due to the shutdown of OnLive, the OnLive Game System is no longer able to access OnLive's servers, rendering the hardware effectively unusable.
Initially, the service required a wired connection to use, however on September 15, 2010, Wi-Fi compatibility was introduced as a "beta feature". Alongside the introduction of Wi-Fi compatibility came a reduction of the minimum connection speed requirement from 5 Mbps to 3 Mbps, although a speed of at least 5 Mbps was still recommended. Initial claims by OnLive VP John Spinale reported there was "no perceptual latency", however later analysis by Eurogamer found the service's latency to average around 150ms.