OnLive's PlayPack launches; $10/month for all-you-can-play gaming

Streaming game service OnLive has officially launched their "PlayPack" yesterday, after a brief two-week delay during which anyone could take advantage of the beta version of the service for free. PlayPack is OnLive's $9.99/month subscription service. For that fee you have unlimited access to a selection of games in the PlayPack bundle. OnLive also continues to offer other titles a la cart via either 2 or 5-day rentals, or by purchasing permanent (well, as long as OnLive offers them) access.

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When the beta of the PlayPack service launched OnLive promised it would have 40 games in the bundle for launch, which was initially scheduled in mid-January. They extended the beta until the end of January, presumably to line up more titles. They didn't quite make it to 40; there are 38 titles currently offered and while a couple of them are a bit suspect (Alien Shooter: Vengeance and Zombie Shooter 2 seem like essentially the same game with different graphics, and neither is very good) overall it seems like a decent package to launch with. There're shooters, puzzle games, strategy titles and action adventures. Some play great on the OnLive Console with a gamepad and others work best on a computer with mouse & keyboard. Some of them are smaller titles that were originally $10-$15 downloadable games (The Maw, World of Goo), others are "AAA" titles (Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider Underworld). All of them are older titles. If you're a fan of sports games, RPGs or driving games then you'll be disappointed. In those three categories there are only two games: NBA2K10 and The Wheelman. As of now there are no character-driven RPGs on offer. OnLive intends to continually add games to the service, and even after the long beta they're still ready to cut us a deal. If you subscribe now you get your first month for free. I continue to be fairly impressed by the quality of OnLive's service, though your results will depend on your broadband connection, of course. If you're a casual gamer who likes to play a lot of different games rather than focusing on one or two at a time, then PlayPack might be just what the doctor ordered. If you're a serious gamer who has a beefy gaming rig and works hard to squeeze maximum FPS out of every game, then this service probably isn't for you. At least not yet.

Peter Smith writes about personal technology for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @pasmith

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