Console-quality games from the cloud to tablets and smartphones. That's what cloud gaming company OnLive now offers to more than 500 million mobile devices in the U.S. and the U.K., providing a new kind of streaming service for mobile devices.
Using a free OnLive app and a separate, $50 Universal OnLive Wireless Controller, users can play up to 200 high-end games that, with a good Wi-Fi or 4G connection, are intended to perform at a level comparable to the same game on a standalone game console.
The company said that a growing library of console-class games have also been adapted for touch-screen control, without the need for a separate controller. These include Rockstar Games' L.A. Noire and LEGO Batman: The Videogame, the latter of which will be available for free to those who download the app. OnLive noted that L.A. Noire is the "first high-performance console video game developed specifically for touch-enabled play via tablet cloud gaming."
OnLive has become known for its high-end games-on-demand, delivered from the cloud to PCs, Macs, and TVs without downloads, and providing performance that exceeds the local device.
"With today's launch," the company said in a statement, "gamers can experience the same instant-play, top-tier games on tablets and smartphones" as with desktops, laptops, and TVs, "despite the fact that these games require vastly higher performance than is achievable on a mobile device."
Cloud-based games from OnLive allow users to continuing playing a given game on any other device, and tablet and smartphone players can participate in multiplayer gaming with gamers on TVs, PCs, or Macs. Social features are also available, including chat, Facebook posting, and OnLive-specific capabilities, such as Brag Clip videos.
'Play Wherever You Are'
Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis, said OnLive's cloud-based gaming for mobile devices points to the "complementary models" of application usage on mobile devices -- a mix of local apps and cloud-based services. Other common, cloud-based services, he noted, include Web-based e-mail, Google Docs and NetFlix, plus there will be continued growth in the use of native apps that serve as front ends to additional capabilities online.
This mix of local and cloud apps, Greengart said, will also drive adoption and usage of popular software that is not yet available as a downloadable application for a given platform -- such as Office 365 online, available even before there are versions of Office for Apple's iOS or Google's Android.
Brad Shimmin, also of Current Analysis, said the move of high-end streaming services to mobile devices, especially where latency issues appear to have been accommodated as in OnLive gaming, will lead to a "play wherever you are" behavior that is not restricted to the typical, lower-end quality of games for handheld devices.
OnLive, backed by Warner Bros., Autodesk, AT&T, British Telecommunications, HTC and others, said that its streaming games for mobile devices will soon be available in Europe and Asia. The company said the technology, based on "groundbreaking video compression technology," is backed by "hundreds of patents and patents pending."