Square-Enix Debuts Sort Of Free Streaming Service CoreOnline

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Fresh off of the near demise of OnLive, Square-Enix has launched their new browser-based, pseudo free Streaming Service CoreOnline. Pseudo because you have the option to play the games for free but you will have to watch some ads before you can play. Roughly every minute of time you spend watching an ad you will accrue 20 minutes of game time. In an effort to stop people from just letting ads run on their computer while they walk away you are limited to 60 minutes of game play accrued at any given time. You will also see ads during loading screens that Square-Enix says,

…load time is not artificially increased by this (the ad), and ads viewed in this way will earn you additional game time

So at least we’ve got that going for us.

Square-Enix has also given people the option to pay for the games as well, or so they say but so far I cannot find anything on the site about the pricing structure. They only briefly make mention of it in the help section and say to contact customer support.

Is this the worst thing in the world or a great innovation? I haven’t decided yet but I also haven’t been able to put in any time (other than signing up) and am unable to tell you how annoying it is until I really spend time with it. 20 minutes of game time for every 1 minute spent watching an ad doesn’t seem terrible, but it also doesn’t seem like the optimal solution. When you run out of time will the game just die out immediately? Luckily the entire service is cloud based and *should* save your state incase of a sudden drop in connection, computer crash, alien invasion and so forth. The idea of having to spend a few minutes watching ads is actually kind of repulsive. Especially after the most recent Olympics, it seemed that every 5 minutes there were 5 minutes of commercials, if not more and more frequent.

This boils down to the ultimate question: Is your time worth more to you than your money?

If it works and the ads aren’t intrusive then this could be great, but what if they just start throwing ads in whenever they feel like it? What if they modify the game to actually have ads in it, but you don’t accrue any game time for seeing those and they are almost subliminal. This is just the conspiracy theorist in me speaking though. Don’t even get me started on flu shots.

At the very least I’m willing to give this a shot. Currently the only two titles available are Mini Ninjas and Hitman: Blood Money, with the former being compatible with Mac and PC, while the latter is not Mac friendly. Neither game supports a game pad, which is a pretty big knock against the service in my mind. These are console games and the support for a controller would already be built-in but there must be something with the way the drivers interact with web browsers, maybe some kind of lag or maybe it makes the entire system unstable. Whatever the reason they have removed controller support for now. In the future Square-Enix promises to release Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light in October sometime and Gyromancer to be released at some later point.

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