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OnLive drops fee, set-top 'MicroConsole' coming

Streaming-video game services just got a little more tempting, especially for free demos.

We've been quite excited about the potential of streaming-video game service OnLive, which forgoes any physical software or system/graphics needs and lets players play games on remote servers via streaming video. The effect is largely seamless, and for some games like adventures it's a fantastic cloud-based substitute for owning an expensive gaming laptop. The only drawback was price: OnLive's games not only cost money, but the OnLive service also levied a subscription fee.

That fee's now been waived: OnLive has dropped its monthly charge. That means that free demos can now be sampled without any expenditure whatsoever. It also makes OnLive more of a true cloud-based game store to compete with Steam, but in OnLive's case, it's a store that has no hardware requirements.

OnLive's blog update also confirms that a set-top "MicroConsole TV Adapter" is in development, although it's unclear whether that means a standalone box or a converter kit for laptops and desktops. How affordable could a small, low-end OnLive box be? We imagine the cost could get pretty competitive. Would PC games be suitable for playing on big-screen TVs, however? That's a separate consideration, but the news is pretty big nonetheless.