It's pretty clear that OnLive has been keeping busy recently. According to this story at Joystiq, the company has confirmed that it will offer a flat-rate monthly subscription by year's end. Details on the exact monthly rate and the game catalog available under such a subscription haven't been revealed, but OnLive is reportedly considering something in the range of $10 a month for access to "back-catalog" and indie titles. The latest big-name releases will presumably be excluded from the subscription selection.
We took a look at the OnLive gaming experience last month and were left underwhelmed by the service's YouTubesque graphics quality and noticeable latency. That said, $10 a month may very well be low enough to attract casual gamers who have no need to play the latest and greatest games, especially if they don't need a PC to indulge. The flat-rate pricing announcement comes as OnLive begins to take pre-orders for its MicroConsole, a diminutive set-top box that will bring the cloud-based gaming service to your HDTV. With a $99 asking price, and coupled with an affordable monthly subscription service, the MicroConsole has the potential to widen what the company claims is a rapidly growing audience.
OnLive's subscription announcement also raises an interesting question: what if Steam were to make a similar offer? Given the digital distribution system's entrenched position in the market, and the breadth of its catalog, a monthly subscription seems likely to garner a lot of attention. Valve might even be able to charge a lot more than $10 a month.