OnLive, the cloud-gaming service, has announced that its streaming functionality will now be available on both the iPad and Android tablet devices. Both operating systems will receive access to the OnLive Player App, which will allow subscribers of the OnLive service to stream most of its catalogue, making hardcore PC gaming available on the go.
A couple of years ago, we covered a streaming device that promised to deliver your home console’s content to any television outside of the home, but the home internet requirements were quite steep and users could only play those games that were either in the disc drive tray or installed on the system’s hard drive. OnLive looks to avoid that problem altogether with its cloud-based operation in what could be a game-changer for the mobile gaming sector.
The OnLive Player App will allow subscribers to use the OnLive service on an iPad or Android tablet later this fall. This would allow users to carry a large virtual library of titles with them as OnLive has a done a fairly good job at convincing major publishers to participate. Over 100 games are currently available and major releases, such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution, will release on the service at the same time as the other platforms.
We were told that the OnLive Player App will also allow the tablet to be used as a touch and motion controller combined with an HDTV, PC, or Mac, and would enable both synchronized or independent video on the tablet and HDTV screen. In other words, the OnLive service could feature combined gameplay features between a tablet and a HDTV. Unfortunately, OnLive wasn’t ready to demonstrate this feature at E3, but we wonder whether this would replicate the gameplay being promised by the WiiU.
Games will be playable on the iPad and Android tablet devices via touch screen controls or OnLive’s new universal wireless controller, which features the typical two analog stick configuration. Both control schemes can be used simultaneously and full voice chat-enabled multiplayer will be supported with the OnLive Player App. Joe Bentley, Vice-President of Engineering at OnLive, explained the advantage of the company’s service over other mobile gaming platforms:
[With the tablet], you play where you want to play this game. There’s no limitations. There’s no compromises either. A lot of touch games are scaled back versions. [But here], you’re getting a full triple-A title experience on a touchscreen…It’s the same experience we’ve been showing on the TV’s, the PC and the Mac, but it’s mobile.
While the typical hardcore game will be best played with the controller, OnLive is also trying to deliver games that will take advantage of the touchscreen found on tablets. One such title will be Ubisoft’s upcoming god-management game, From Dust. Ubisoft has developed the title to work specifically with a touch screen and OnLive hopes to bring similarly designed games to the market in the future.
While running THQ’s Homefront on an Android tablet, we found the touch screen overlay to be a little too subtle and a bit hard to see. However, it played well with OnLive’s wireless controller, which would likely be the preferred choice of most hardcore gamers. We also had the opportunity to try Virtua Tennis 2009 running on an iPad configuration, and it worked perfectly except for a short disconnect of internet connectivity, which was a rampant problem on the E3 floor.
As a full-featured gaming service, OnLive is very competitive and offers options not available on other platforms, but consistent access to a broadband connection will be the determining factor as to whether it can succeed or not. Mobile broadband is continuing to expand and faster technologies are expected to release in the near future, which certainly would boost OnLive’s profile. For those who are often forced to game on the go, you’ll definitely want to keep your eye on this application when it arrives later this year.
The OnLive Player App arrives later this Fall for both iPad and Android-enabled tablets.