The Red Faction Armageddon PC demo is available today, but only if you subscribe to OnLive.
If you want to lay eyeballs on the upcoming PC version of Red Faction Armageddon, you've only got one choice. It's not Steam, it's not Direct2Drive, it's not even THQ. It's OnLive, the cloud gaming service that offers instant, high-end gaming on just about any broadband-equipped PC or Mac, laptops and netbooks included.
"While OnLive has been releasing new major game titles on the same day and date as PCs and consoles, Red Faction Armageddon marks the beginning of a new era in videogame distribution, where OnLive's ability to provide an instant, frictionless demo on almost any PC, Mac or HDTV (and soon mobile) makes OnLive the universal demo platform of choice," the company said.
The full version of the game will be available from OnLive for $49.95 and will come with a free copy of Red Faction Guerrilla as well as a free OnLive set-top box. It also offers the side bonus of instant playability the moment the game goes live at 9:01 pm PST on June 6, with no downloads or trips to the mall required.
But OnLive is also taking the opportunity to promote itself as the platform of choice for PC demos, regardless of where the full game will actually be purchased. OnLive offers demos as part of its free basic service but noted with a certain languid indifference that gamers can ultimately purchase the full version of the game wherever they want.
"Today marks a milestone for the videogame industry," said OnLive Founder and CEO Steve Perlman. "Not only is this the first time a major game pre-release PC demo is available exclusively from OnLive, but it's the first time a game platform is encouraging gamers to buy a game on their preferred platform, whether or not that is OnLive."
"While we have a rapidly growing base of OnLive-only members, many members game on other platforms in addition to OnLive," added OnLive Vice President John Spinale. "Hassle-free demos, particularly combined with massive spectating, are a great way to check out games before buying them, and OnLive demos are just a click away, be it on PCs, Macs, TVs or mobile devices."
Promoting OnLive as a sort of instant and universally-accessible demo platform is a fantastic idea but this kind of exclusivity is a real kick in the junk for those of us who happen to reside outside the OnLive service area. Console exclusives are irritating enough but telling people who have the right kind of hardware and could otherwise acquire the demo with relative ease that they can't have it because they live in the wrong neighborhood feels dismissive to the point of insult. You won't let me play your demo? I'll remember that when I see your game sitting on the shelf at the mall.
Red Faction Armageddon comes out on June 7 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.