OnLive ditching monthly charge, goes free; MicroConsole in manufacturing

"Although we wish we could have confirmed no monthly free from the get-go, pioneering a major new video game paradigm is hard," OnLive CEO Steve Perlman writes in a blog post, continuing, "we had to first grow to a large base of regular users before we could understand usage patterns and operating costs."

And just like that, the formerly $14.95 per month service -- which, through its Founding Members program, has offered a year of free service since its launch earlier this year (meaning it never actually collected any monthly fees) -- is free, greatly reducing the mostly psychological barrier many gamers had regarding OnLive. To capitalize on that lower barrier of entry, OnLive is "kicking off this change with the introduction of its Free Trial program for new users to its service," giving curious gamers quick access to the service sans credit card.

With no monthly cost, no credit card needed for sign-up, and plenty of free demos, we're not sure why someone would elect to not at least try the service. Here's how it works: You push buttons and those go to a server somewhere, and then it sends you back video of your game. It's freaky. Not interested until you can get the service on your telly? Perlman notes that "MicroConsole TV Adapters are in manufacturing," giving us hope the device will make its planned 2010 release.
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OnLive Eliminates Ongoing Base Monthly Fees
Free Instant Access to Top Game Demos, Massive Spectating and Community
No Ongoing Fees to Play Purchased Games

Palo Alto, Calif., October 4, 2010 – OnLive, Inc., the pioneer of on-demand, instant-play video games, today announced that it has eliminated ongoing base monthly fees for access to the OnLive Game Service. OnLive has been waiving first-year base monthly fees since its launch last summer while it grew its base of users and tracked actual operating costs. Today, OnLive confirmed there will be no ongoing base monthly fees, either in the first year or beyond.

"We're delighted to be able to offer the OnLive Game Service without a base monthly fee on an ongoing basis," said Steve Perlman, founder and CEO of OnLive, Inc. "There is no precedent for OnLive, so we had to grow to a large number of active users in order to assess usage patterns and operating costs. We've arrived at that stage, and as we had hoped, we are able to operate OnLive without charging a fee for access. This opens the door to any gamer seeking instant top-tier game demos, or even just people interested in spectating high-performance live gameplay in the OnLive Arena. Come one, come all."

OnLive is kicking off this change with the introduction of its Free Trial program for new users to its service, which offers access to the game service in just seconds, with no credit card required to create an account. "The Free Trial program is an instant sign-up path to instant high-performance gaming and community," added Mike McGarvey, OnLive's COO. "Since OnLive works on almost any PC or Mac, in no time at all you can be checking out the latest top-tier games for free. Whether you just want to demo a game, or you want to participate in the OnLive community, the Free Trial program is a seamless, hassle-free way to stay on top of the latest in gaming. With OnLive you Just Play."

In addition to providing free demos and community, OnLive offers purchase of 3-day, 5-day and Full PlayPasses for its catalog of games on an a la carte basis, each of which is accessible without monthly fee for the term of the PlayPass. To sign up or learn more about OnLive's Free Trial program, visit https://www.onlive.com/go/signup.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.