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Publishers see OnLive as second only to Steam, claims Perlman

Streaming games service also prepared to change prices in UK following feedback

Newly launched streaming games service OnLive has become the number two method of digital distribution for PC games, according to publisher feedback.

Steve Perlman, CEO, said that more companies are getting onboard the service and are increasingly keen to tailor content to its users demands.

"Publishers have bought into it, they get it, they know that it works, and the cheques at the end of the month help," he told GamesIndustry.biz.

"The publishers are telling us we're number two in terms of digital distribution behind Steam.

"We're getting exclusive demos. Doing a demo is something that's hard to develop. For example on Red Faction: Armageddon there was an Xbox demo but not a PlayStation 3 or PC version - they put it on OnLive instead. This is the first time a platform has been released that doesn't present itself as a direct competitor to the other platforms."

The US has been the UK's beta test. This is a new animal, there's going to be things we have to learn.

Steve Perlman, OnLive

Launching in the UK last week, OnLive has received some criticism for its pricing structure, in particular with new games - although prices are set by the publishers not the distributor.

However, in the US, where the service launched over 15 months ago, the company has continued to tweak pricing and offers in response to consumer feedback, with Perlman saying it plans to take the exact same approach in the UK.

"The US has been the UK's beta test. We've had 15 months of live experience there, not just on the technology side but with what users want, how to package features and build up the game library," he offered.

"Try it out, show your friends, give us feedback, we can change things. That's why we took it to the Eurogamer Expo to begin with, these guys are hardcore gamers and they will be vocal. This is a new animal, there's going to be things we have to learn. The whole Play Pack deal, the fact it even existed, is a result of feedback. This isn't movie streaming, you have to think about it differently," he added.

UK consumers can currently buy the OnLive micro console online or from retail partner GAME - although that partnership is likely to be short-lived once the technology is available built-in to consumer hardware.

"Over the next weeks we expect that we'll be announcing TV, Blu-ray and media players that will be available in the UK with OnLive built in," stated Perlman.

Although confident of the service and its offering, Perlman wasn't willing to reveal any target numbers for uptake in the UK, suggesting it's too early to make predictions on adoption.

"It's very hard to know," he said. "It's a new animal. In my career I've launched a lot of new things and it takes time.

"In the US we had to gradually build up from 18 games and some of the early adopters tried it but it didn't have enough for them so they moved on. In the UK we have a very robust system with a lot of games, a big library. This is one of the most difficult things in the world to predict."

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Latest comments (10)

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game8 years ago
What does sound promising is that he is responding to price criticisms rather than staying silent on the issue, or coming out with some, "we think in time consumers will see we represent value blah convenience blah blah".
If they manage to retain that attitude it could win over a few gamers who have felt that bigger companies just fob off their concerns.
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Liam Farrell8 years ago
What's the point of feedback on pricing if it's the publishers that set the price? That's the main issue people seem to have.
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Bernard Parker Studying game design, Full Sail University8 years ago
I love onlive, It will be great for indie publishers in the long run.
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Show all comments (10)
Wes Keltner Founder, Gun8 years ago
I've been using OnLive now for a few weeks and I'm impressed, especially with Arena. Reminds me of the old G4 show "Cinematech". Since G4 no longer airs video game content (well, there's Xplay) this was a welcomed addition to my TV viewing. But in the long run, I'm hoping that OnLive actually opens up an indie dev challenge, similar to what Xbox does. It would make sense for them to lock in some exclusives.
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Antony Carter Senior Programmer, Epic Games8 years ago
I just find it to hard to believe people going in for this glorified rental service, you own nothing, your at the whim of needing a constant internet connection, and if they ever fold you lose everything. There prices need to be at rental level like less than 5 for even brand new games for me to go in for this. So the fact there charging $50 for new games i just dont see any appeal at all.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game8 years ago
@Antony, whilst I probably wouldn't pay 35-40 for a game on onlive, the monthly plan is appealing. Especially if you look at it as being 1 more than a monthly Xbox live sub, but with access to a library of games included.
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Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ8 years ago
It's the sort of thing that, if it came all set up and ready to go in a new BluRay player or something, I'd give it a go. A good way to dabble in a few different titles without having to commit to buying a new console, or the entire game.

It'd probably get me dabbling with more games, for more time, than I do presently. Especially if it were set up in a way where I can just pay a little to play a little. No big commitment on hardware and 30 hour games, if I'm really not going to use them to their fullest.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 8 years ago
Cloud gaming presents a dystopian future where unpopular yet culturally important games get removed from the service and no known examples exist elsewhere in the wild.

If this distribution method gains traction we might lose a lot of our culture permanently.
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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 8 years ago
Look at iTunes and Steam.
They don't cut games or apps from their services. It's all about content organization. And when was the last time you played a game console in a place that didn't have internet? The internet is everywhere. If you don't have internet you probably don't have power which means you're probably not supposed to be playing games anyways.
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Matthew Barley Studying Game Developer, Train2Game8 years ago
Have to say I am impressed with Onlive, it's about time there's serious competition for Steam!
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