About 18 months ago, OnLive laid off its entire staff and filed for something akin to bankruptcy protection. Things weren't looking up for the online game streaming service. As Rock, Paper, Shotgun reports, however, OnLive has since bounced back—and it's now pitching itself partly as a sidekick service to Steam.
You can link your OnLive and Steam accounts, and if you own a game on Steam and that game is available through OnLive, you'll have instant access to it within OnLive. That means you can play your Steam games while travelling without an install process or a powerful computer in your travel bag.
Previously if you wanted to play a game through OnLive, you needed to pay a small fee to buy the game. If you already owned the game elsewhere – combined with the sense that you never really own the games on a streaming service anyway – it wasn't a great proposition.
I'm inclined to agree. The new service sounds quite a bit more appealing.
Now, of course, since OnLive streams games directly over the Internet, it'll remain an iffy proposition for folks with slow or high-latency connections—and the selection of games remains limited. (See the RPS story for details.) Still, this could be a nice complement to a Steam machine for folks who spend a lot of time on the road. We might have to give it another try.