OnLive made a bunch of announcements before E3, but at the show, the streaming game service was showing something new: full, working versions of OnLive on the iPad and Android tablets.
An OnLive app is already available on the iPad, but only for watching other players and seeing what games are available. The unreleased app shown at E3 can run OnLive’s full library of games using the universal controller announced last week, and one game was even adapted to the touch screen. According to Joe Bentley, OnLive’s vice president of engineering, Apple is listening.
“We’ve had conversations with Apple, and they’re very excited about OnLive,” Bentley said. “They’re huge fans.”
OnLive uses high-end processors on its own servers to stream modern video games to less capable devices. The service launched a year ago on PCs, and is now available on a small set-top box that sells for $100. In addition, OnLive has a partnership with Vizio to appear on its connected televisions, and will be compatible with other TVs and Blu-ray players that use Intel’s C4100 embedded processor (although it’s still up to TV makers to include the OnLive app).
Tablets are perhaps the most importance piece of OnLive’s device puzzle. You can already play Borderlands on TVs and computers using traditional game consoles and high-end PC rigs. But tablets just aren’t powerful enough, so they’re the one class of device where OnLive can stand alone.
For the iPad, the question is whether OnLive can keep its business model intact while satisfying Apple’s demands. Apple requires a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases and subscription revenue through its App Store. OnLive charges $10 per month for its all-you-can-stream PlayPack service, and prides its a la carte service on the fact that there’s no retail middleman. Something’s got to give if OnLive wants to get on the iPad.
Bentley wouldn’t talk about the business details of dealing with Apple, but he cautioned that the version of OnLive demonstrated on tablets at E3 were just tech demos. On the iPad, the finished product may be different when (or if) it actually launches in the App Store.