OnLive Review from Game Designer Jason Parker

The great thing about OnLive is that the app will run on just about anything that has at least Shader Model 2.0. My stepfather plays on his netbook! I would definitely recommend the service, but with a few caveats.

You really do need a stable internet connection when playing on a PC/Mac or the Micro-Console they make. What you are seeing when you are playing OnLive is a video stream, and since it absolutely must be live with no perceptible delay, it cannot be buffered. This means any dropped packets will result in an increase in compression artifacts. Too many and you will lose connection. Also in this line, a high ping is also bad. The higher the ping when you run a speed test, the more likely you are to experience a perceptible delay between input and reaction on screen. Your best bet is to use an actual network cable versus Wifi if you can. I can tell you there’s a big difference in consistency of stream quality between my wife playing over wifi and me playing over our wired network.

As to the mobile app: Works great over 3g as long as your 3g tests out to over 1.5 mbit and you’re using a smartphone. If on a tablet, it’ll look fuzzy and have compression artifacts. Over 4g, it looks great on both devices unless your 4g signal quality is quite low.

The mobile app also handles phone calls on Android quite well (I can’t comment on iOS as the app isn’t approved yet, and I don’t own an Apple device.) I was playing Defense Grid Gold in the Walmart parking lot while my wife was shopping. When she called to say she was done, my phone switched to the call just fine, and when I re-launched OnLive, it resumed my stream. :)

Finally: Watch your data caps! A high quality OnLive stream will eat through data fast. If you aren’t torrenting constantly and are the only one on your internet connection playing OnLive, you wont have to worry. But it’s still possible for hardcore, long hour, gamers to run into trouble. It took three of us in this house playing OnLive, plus watching Netflix and finally downloading the 20gig SWTOR beta before we finally cracked Comcast’s 250 GB limit. Luckily, we’re in one of the areas Comcast isn’t cracking down.