E3 Postmortem: OnLive evolving in interesting directions

E3 Postmortem: OnLive evolving in interesting directions

If you've read my review of the OnLive cloud-based gaming service, written several months ago, you know that I was somewhat impressed with the company at the time.

Since then, OnLive has apparently only gotten better. At the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo, I had the chance to sit down and talk with Rachel Franklin, director of marketing for OnLive, to discuss the many directions the company is taking.

Franklin was most excited about the fact the company had just launched its 100th game on the service, a little number you might have heard of called "Red Faction: Armageddon," created by Champaign's own Volition Inc.

Not only was it OnLive's 100th game, but also it was available through them on the same day it launched everywhere else. And when other games such as "Saints Row: The Third" and "Deus Ex: Human Revolution" are released, they'll get the same treatment.

In other words, OnLive's deals with THQ, Ubisoft, Square-Enix, Disney and other companies lend it increasing credibility as a gaming platform.

Another measure that's giving the platform a leg up: It's now available on tablet computers, such as the iPad and Android-based models, and OnLive-enabled TV models are in the works at several companies.

When I first tested the service, many of the games restricted what kinds of controls you had to use. For instance, some were only compatible with keyboard and mouse. OnLive is now working to update games to use both the console-style controller as well as touch-screen inputs "where it makes sense," Franklin said.

Of course, up until now, OnLive's wireless controllers have only been compatible with the service's set-top box. But soon, Franklin said, OnLive will release new universal wireless controllers.

You'll be able to hook these up to almost any OnLive-capable device, whether that's a PC, tablet or TV, and play just like you were using a PlayStation or Xbox.

On the software side, "social"  improvements have been made or are in the works.

For instance, the voice chat beta has been going well, where players are able to converse not only during multiplayer matches, but while spectating each other's games.

OnLive's spectating system has always been one where if someone is playing a game and hasn't set their profile to private, you can watch as them in real-time. I find it almost disturbingly voyeuristic. And now, spectators can address players directly -- as long as they've got a microphone hooked up to their system.

The service is also integrating itself with social media such as Facebook.

Soon, players will be able to post "brag clips" on their walls, for instance, and the ultimate goal is to make it so viewers can click on the clip and jump right into the actual service.

All in all, it looks like OnLive will be a service to keep one's eye on.


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