Originally founded by software inventor and engineer, Steve Perlman, the cloud services company is now overseen by acting CEO and COO, Charlie Jablonski, delivering some of the latest and greatest console-grade titles to users around the world, via a socially-connected, subscription-based streaming platform.
Integrating with its own plug-and-play home console, effectively a box which hooks up to your HDMI-compatible TV and connects to the OnLive cloud gaming service, then allowing you to try (and buy) access to game titles from a number of different genres available on the OnLive servers, there was once talk of the service coming to the iOS platform in the form of a ‘Player’ app.
Despite Perlman having previously taken up the role as a Microsoft division President, and even spending some time as a principal scientist at (then) Apple Computer, (according to Wikipedia), when OnLive reportedly submitted its cloud gaming client to the iTunes App Store – (described as allowing players to not only see other gamers play titles available on the service in real-time, but also actually play those games with the use of a specially designed bluetooth controller), that was the last we heard of it.
Fast forward to today — OnLive announces its third anniversary with ‘no downtime recorded,’ mobile gamers running Android OS can enjoy OnLive’s Player client which is now available from the Google Play store, and the original press release announcing that the company’s iOS client would be available “soon” – has disappeared.
The press release originally read:
“Today marks a major milestone: OnLive is now delivering the latest, console-class, top-tier games — literally to your fingertips — on tablets and phones for instant, on-demand play anywhere, anytime …”
“Through the free OnLive app, tablet and smartphone gamers can play top console and PC titles like Assassins Creed®: Revelations and L.A. Noire—one of the most highly acclaimed, graphically sophisticated games to date—with exclusive OnLive Cloud Touch controls or with the new mobile-compatible Universal OnLive Wireless Controller. Tablets and smartphones, the fastest-growing consumer product categories in history, are now capable of running the hottest, highest-end games. Gaming and mobile devices will never be the same.”
As a result, those on iOS have seemingly been left with a bluetooth controller in their hands, and no ‘Player’ app to play all those cloud-based titles with.
Here’s why I think that could change in the coming months.
Apple just hosted its Worldwide Developer Conference last week, updating iCloud to better integrate with iWork, iOS and OS X. This was the company’s world stage – and perhaps only opportunity – to ‘upgrade’ iCloud with new features and services, this year. The fact that streaming games was not a part of iCloud’s recently announced update could suggest that Apple isn’t looking to get into the gaming market in a big way – (just yet).
If that is the case, (and this is pure speculation, so don’t get too excited), Apple could have let OnLive in early on its plans to introduce official gamepad support with the introduction of a future version of iOS – in this case, iOS 7.
We already know Apple is working on APIs for iOS gamepad support. We can also speculate that this developer support may arrive with – (or in time for) – the public release of iOS 7.
And then, we have the curious fact that OnLive Player for iPad – (in the form it was originally submitted to the store) – required a bluetooth controller in order to play titles. From Apple’s perspective, I can see the company theoretically looking upon this situation as a little ‘messy’ — “a third-party app, requiring a (sold-separately) third-party controller?” – Yuck.
Perhaps a much better solution would be for Apple to have OnLive (and other game-streaming services which wish to live on the iOS platform) play nice with officially supported ‘gamepad’ devices — which appear to be in development, (by the way).
Some would argue that Game Center‘s current audience of 240,000,000 might be reason enough for Apple to block OnLive (and others like it) from entering its tightly-contolled walled garden. I would tend to disagree. Apple’s Game Center platform is built around iOS titles which physically exist on iOS devices. It’s very much a social experience which relies on the participation of friends who also own iOS devices.
This isn’t going to change just because some firm decides to make console-quality titles streamed from the cloud another option. This is an established base of players who highly ‘value’ their experience of playing iOS games as they stand today.
Game Center isn’t going anywhere.
Then, of course, you have to look at the potential issues regarding OnLive asking users of the service for a subscription, and Apple taking its 30% cut of those subscription fees. If Apple doesn’t intend to enter the gaming market with iCloud (or Apple TV), I don’t see this as an issue. Once gamepad support is official and “baked” into iOS 7, the necessary deals could be made behind closed doors in order to make it happen.
Perhaps I’m overthinking it. Heck, OnLive Player for iPad might be a dead project for all we know, lying somewhere in the trash pile of Apple’s app submission queue never to see the light of day again.
Then again, OnLive, Apple (or a combination of the two) could be working on the next-generation of gaming, with iOS devices and game controller accessories very much at the heart of that future experience.
As a former OnLive account holder, I can tell you. I’m holding out for the latter.
Those looking to see what OnLive is capable of can check out the company’s remote ‘Viewer’ application, which is available from the iTunes App Store as a FREE download.
The cloud services company has since also released OnLive Desktop, designed to give those with an OnLive account the ability to enter a remote Windows desktop environment directly from their iPad, on a “prioritised” basis.