OnLive Spectating Has Potential, Could Be Better

With the CloudLift and Steam integration set in place, OnLive is making quite the noise after a 25-month silence due to company reconstruction. Their new elements are worth fidgeting with, but it appears that it’s spectator mode may need remodeling in order for it to feel, well—less boring.

Let’s hold on the jabs, though and get to the Gamers who have used are no strangers to the concept planted in OnLive’s Spectator feature. Once users sign up to the service and download the 7MB application, players can begin watching another OnLive user as they lay waste of demonic enemies in DarkSiders II or causing a hell of a ruckus in Saint’s Row IV, and all for free too. Just as players would see in their own OnLive game session, the user you’re watching will have the same silky-smooth, cloud-based streaming picture provided that your internet connection is up to the task.

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OnLive spectating not only allows viewing of another player’s quest for glory, but the application also permits friendly connections in a few strong ways.

Players can add others to their friend list and chat away with them via microphone while spectating their games, which—to be honest—isn’t brand new. Microsoft has given us part of this experience already, allowing us to spew free speech in the form of unapologetic trash talk to some dude halfway across the world in an online free-for-all shootout session in Halo or rooting on a friend after they’ve beaten a scrub on Ultra Street Fighter IV.

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There is a contrast to be observed for OnLive’s take. With a press of a button, players can offer their opinion through the use of ‘cheer’ and ‘jeer’ buttons, indicating whether or not they enjoy or abhor what they’re watching. Giving another player a “yay” or a “boo” sounds fun on paper, but the execution is lacking.

Compared to other accustomed online interactions, cheers and jeers are like babies when compared to mic chat. Yes, it’s perfectly reasonable to say that it’s the thought that counts. The sensation you receive for being validated for your work as a skilled mercenary in Hitman in the form of a pop-up indication saying “this person cheered you” is a great one. Flattering, actually. It takes a split second to notice the cheer and even add that person to your friends list in return, but the concept by itself is needless.

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It gets boring faster than Sonic the Hedgehog beating the speed of light in a race around the world. I’ve had a dozen sessions playing some games using the service, and the pop-up notifications don’t add nothing to the experience of people watching you play. Hearing a person cheer me on for stopping some bad guys is a lot more rewarding than seeing someone deliver me boxed notification of their approval.

The application’s Brag Clips feature is probably the only added touch to the entire Spectating experience. Players can record and publish certain parts of their game and share it with the world in exchange for some Cheers. However, with PlayStation 4 exhibiting this same exact feature with their share button, Spectating in OnLive falls a tad short in the creative department.

Add on to the fact that OnLive can allow users to turn off the Facebook-esque feature from the settings, thus rendering the idea as a lost cause.

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So what can the streaming game service do better with the ‘watch the game and rate’ shtick? Add another gimmick or create another one.

Those who’ve watched pro wrestling long enough to know the difference between a face and a heel know that a wrestler’s gimmick changes whenever (the creative writers feel that) the crowd needs a switch up after seeing the guy play the hero or the villain for so long. That mindset should be ingrained in the spectator feature, giving viewers a little more than just an option to like or dislike what they’re seeing. There are ways.

Spectators altering the way the player plays the game in a less annoying “Twitch Plays Pokemon” kind of way would be superb. Seeing a player get past a level that you couldn’t beat and then jumping in their game to play off of their save data is another example, which hasn’t been done before. OnLive could even take the easy route by just by implementing a chat lobby for each and every player engaging in a session.

Or OnLive could just drop the feature altogether, but that option would be called into action should the company deem the feature to be lacking. Newsflash, they probably don’t. They know what they’re doing and it could be that they have plans for it in the future. Spectator mode is still an ingenious concept that is sure to have a lot of publishing companies turning heads if it hasn’t already. For right now, it does nothing but offer a catalyst to building a friendliest filled with like-minded gamers. After some revamping of their core team and overall company restructure, they should consider adding to it or lose money by not taking innovative and creative risks.

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