What has cloud-based streaming service OnLive been up to for the last year? Apart from a few partnerships announced at CES and elsewhere to bring the service to Google TV products and select TV hardware, we haven’t heard much from OnLive since Gary Lauder took over as owner and chairman back in August 2012. That followed some rough financial times for the company that resulted in most of its 200 employees and founder Steve Perlman getting the boot. However, Lauder and the new team have actively been trying to save the company’s two core businesses, OnLive Desktop and OnLive Gaming, and today the company is finally giving an update on what it’s been doing for the last year. The news includes new leadership at the company as well as a new cloud gaming feature that acts like an iTunes Match of sorts for your personal gaming library across platforms.
On top of some interesting product news today, OnLive is also announcing that it has hired Mark Jung, former co-founder of IGN and VUDU CEO, to serve as the company’s Executive Chairman and lead the company:
“No other company has been able to deliver games across connected devices over the open Internet with such consistently high standards of performance. If the company can do that with games, which are the most challenging apps to serve effectively from the cloud, the possible applications are endless,” said Mark Jung. “OnLive is a disruptive force and I’m thrilled that Gary Lauder has given me the opportunity to lead the Company.”
In addition, the company announced that Jung has assembled a new team of gaming executives that the company picked up from EA, Playdom.com, Disney Interactive, and others. That includes EA’s Director of Partner Management Carrie Holder, former co-founder of IGN and VP of Disney’s Playdom.com Rich Sanchez, and Don Gordon, an engineer with a long list of patents related to video, TV, and streaming technologies.
As for product news, OnLive announced today that it’s launching a new “CloudLift” subscription that will allow users to access games from their personal library. Think of it like iTunes Match: OnLive will sync with your personal Steam library. When it finds supported games, it will then let you access those games from anywhere through the cloud. If you have a supported game installed on your Mac, for example, you’ll be able to pick up and play on any other OnLive supported device like tablets, PCs, or TVs through CloudLift. While OnLive is currently available on Android tablets, the company is yet to release a gaming app for iOS. OnLive has nothing to announce regarding their presence on iOS; the company says they would love to be there, but has long cited controller support as an issue.
“We’ve listened to our players. They want the convenience of instant access to their games wherever they are, but they also want to own the game and be able to play it locally on their home PC. With this new offering, we’re continuing to expand on the compatibility, freedom and instant access our users enjoy, with the added flexibility of owning a local copy of their games,” said Mark Jung, OnLive’s Executive Chairman.
The feature will of course only work with supported games that have agreed to let OnLive offer this functionality, but interesting is the fact that CloudLift will work with “supported games purchased from any digital download retailer.” However, OnLive will also offer its own digital downloads and provide a lot of incentive to purchase through its own channels with a 7-day free trial of CloudLift offered with every download. The service is also getting a brand new UI and performance upgrades today.
CloudLift will be available for $14.99 USD (£9.99 GBP)/month in addition to the company’s existing $9.99 USD/£6.99 GBP/month PlayPack subscription. Supported games at launch include Batman®: Arkham Origins, The LEGO® Movie Videogame, Saints Row IV, and Type:Rider. OnLive says it “has dozens more planned, including highly rated titles such as Europa Universalis IV®, F1™ 2013, The official game of the 2013 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP™ and more.”
Lastly, the company is announcing a new product for developers called OnLive Go that allows them to offer some of the benefits of OnLive’s cloud services in their apps and games. For example, developers can take advantage of an instant-start option, allowing users to instantly jump into a game without requiring hours of download time. The company also says Go will allow graphics-intensive apps to run on devices with lower-end specs: OnLive Go also adds mobility to graphics-rich applications that require a powerful computer, enabling users to enjoy a high-quality experience on lower-end laptops, Macs and tablets for Android. The platform is only being tested by a couple of developers in beta mode, but it does sound like this feature could have big potential for larger MMOs and mobile developers.
And in case you’re worried about some of the performance hiccups OnLive has suffered from in the past, the company wants you to know it has added “thousands of new servers” over the last 12 months to increase its capacity. That includes new and expanded data centers in Chicago, Seattle, Virginia, San Francisco, Dallas, and Luxembourg with the latest gaming GPUs and CPUs.