OnLive app brings streaming to smartphones and tablets

Rockstar creates exclusive touchscreen version of L.A. Noire; new controller to go on sale to market of 500m mobile devices

Cloud gaming service OnLive is releasing a new app for iOS and Android over the next 24 hours that will stream playable PC games to smartphones and tablets.

Rockstar Games has been enlisted to create a specific touchscreen interface for its hit title L.A. Noire as part of a collection of 25 games with reconfigured controls ready for the launch window.

While some games will have tailor made controls to support tablets from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Motorola and HTC, others will have a simple virtual pad added to the screen by OnLive to make them playable.

OnLive will also begin selling a new controller which works with portable devices, priced $49.99 / £39.99, and designed for more complex games that have already been released on PC and console.

CEO Steve Perlman admitted that although the new controller is ready for the US market, OnLive has been unable to manufacture enough for the UK and a release is expected at a later date - although he did state that the new controller will be future proof to work with multiple hardware.

Rockstar said it wanted to do something really special for tablets and the interface is completely new. They've made it very specific. It's a native touch interface

"The new controller works with tablets and phones, but it will also work with new TV interfaces and Blu-ray players that are coming out," Perlman told "It's been approved for the UK. It sounds ridiculous but we've run into demand [problems] just from developers getting these," he added.

Developers and publishers have the option of deploying the three different control types across titles for OnLive, said Perlman, with the touchscreen implementation adding an exclusive element to the service.

"This is where there's a redesign of the game entirely. Rockstar said it wanted to do something really special for tablets and the interface is completely new. It's context sensitive, players can reach in and flip a gun over with their fingers to see the serial number. They've made it very specific. It's a native touch interface."

"With Virtual Pad interfaces we usually do it ourselves and see that we can take some of the buttons and map them onto the screen with a translucent overlay. We can do that for some, but some games have so many buttons in use so that would be like putting a piano keyboard on screen.

"Then there are the games that are only supported through the OnLive games controller and those are like anything you would play with a wireless controller on PC or console, the difference is you can play them on your phone or tablet."

The app is free, and comes with a free copy of LEGO Batman. All games purchased via OnLive can be played instantly over a compatible device and shared between hardware with data saved over the cloud, as well as allowing cross-platform play.

Perlman would not commit to projected download numbers for the app, or for those players OnLive hopes to convert into paying users, only stating that the company is entering a huge market of smartphones and tablets.

"We have a very difficult time predicting," he said. "We tried to predict what the demand would be in the UK and we very much underestimated that, so we're trying to be as conservative as we can. We're dropping this into a sea of 500 million devices but not everyone is going to be interested in OnLive."

In the US, the company has also signed with AT&T and Verizon's 4G LTE services for full HD-resolution, low latency gaming.

The new app follows the release of OnLive's previous software for iOS, which only allowed users to view games being played by other people via the home MicroConsole.

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Latest comments (29)

Majd Abdulqadir6 years ago
There's the future for you. Not necessarily from OnLive, but the idea that I can play my games literally anywhere I like has always been a dream to me.

I can't wait for Valve/Steam to join in and create such a service for their customers.
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Its no future here (Australia) - doing this over a fast broadband connection, via Wifi to a mobile device is one thing - but over a 3G/4G connection is plain out ridiculous. Not to mention that mobile data latencies being *much* higher than broadband latencies. Maybe in other countries, but definitely not here... :P
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Anthony Gowland Consulting F2P Game Designer, Ant Workshop6 years ago
You're saying you think Australia will never have better technology than 4G mobile? I'll take that bet.
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Show all comments (29)
heck, 3G is still abysmal in U, and what chances 4G will roll out without exorbitant fees and dodgy masts everywhere in the british isles. Onlive may be patchy. it is a great dream to be ableto play anywhere (as long as portable batteries survive more than 2 hours for sufficient satisfying gameplay).

So if technology can be like magic, have good battery life and hyperspeed connectivity, then yes, gmaing will have a interesting future. Also in contrast, it can all come tubling down like bricks if the two to three main pillers collapse. just like that!
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
In Germany, you are lucky to get 3G latencies of 100-300ms and speeds of 2Mbit. I doubt other countries will benchmark any better. Add the controller input lag and the display lag and you got one broken game on a pixelated stream. If you play at home anyway, then no need to spend $500 on a tablet, there are cheaper options. If you got the money for $500 tablet toys, you probably have the money for other gaming equipment as well.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 6 years ago
Not quite the future yet but it's a step forward. Broadband and 3G in the UK, hah!
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John Bye Lead Designer, Future Games of London6 years ago
More to the point, in the UK at least it's rare to get more than 500mb a month of data allowance, after which you pay (extortionate) fees per mb, which makes this pretty much useless unless you're at home, Starbucks or somewhere else with free wi-fi. Also, while it might be more practical on a tablet, on a phone you're going to be squinting at a screen the size of a postage stamp by the time they get all the controls mapped onto the touch screen.
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 6 years ago
You can get mobile data plans and pre-pay data only deals from the mobile providers in the UK.
I have used both O2 and Vodafone to access the internet.
With O2 I had the entry level dongle and got usable connectivity but it was painful to game with it.
I switched to Vodafone to a rolling contract as they offered the best dongle on that plan and it was much more like proper broadband. I was able to play wow in the 200ms region of latency so not perfect but not unplayable at all.

Mobile broadband is alot more expensive, 2GB is not alot of data for a month and bounced off the limit more than once during those few months resulting in paying double for more data.
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts6 years ago
@John I was just about to bring up the MB allowance aswell. Is 4g, if and when it ever arives supposed to be much faster than broadband? surely thats the time when this will work?

Still the idea I like a lot! but only for Tablets I have a HTC Sensation XL phone and I cant imagine that the massive screen on that being big enough for a worthwhile and complete experience.
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 6 years ago
4G is supposed to offer alot more bandwidth per channel allowing for faster data transfer.
I think they are saying it should offer 100MBs data rates but there are some restrictions as there is still a limited number of channels per channel.

Even then, you still have to factor in latency for mobile broadband for gaming and if even with fixed line broadband onlive feels slugish it will be worse on mobile even if you have a higher bandwidth connection.
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Allan Poole Credit Manager, Future Publishing6 years ago
Perhaps its just me then who has had a positive experience with this! I have onlive at home and it runs perfectly with no lag (though I do have an average of 25-30mb), I also downloaded the app to my Atrix this morning and enjoyed a quick test of Homefront and in the 30 seconds I tested (over 3g) it ran without issues or lag? I haven't tried on my Xoom yet, but will be giving it a go tonight...!
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Shaz Yousaf Designer and Developer, Honey Tribe Studios6 years ago
I've had good results with the desktop Onlive too. No lag issues. (Not using it via a wireless connection though). Very seamless, I've been really impressed. But I do seem to get throttled by my isp. So after a while it will auto switch to low resolution mode. Which is pretty annoying.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 6 years ago
All this talk of onlive being the future of gaming is truly annoying.

Most of the 3G and 4G service providers here in the United States, have ridiculouse fee's and very low caps. Verizon and At&T charge you 10$ per gig after you pass the 4GB limit. You can check it out here...

[link url=

And T-mobile offers an "Unlimited" data plan but if you use the service too much, they "choke" your bandwith so you can use it so much.

Sprint offers an unlimited data plan but charge you almost 100$ a month for it.

The penalties for 'OVERUSE" are staggering. I once had a cable modem. When i got the service it was "UNLIMITED" no caps. But one day they decided to put CAPS. However I didnt know. It was a 40gb cap. and they charged you 20$ for every 10GB you went over that. I recieved a 320$ doller bill since I also shared my internet connection with my room mate.

I can really see onlive taking over the game industry... NOT!
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 6 years ago
I'm truly, truly happy with it and the value for money that I get is phenominal. I get to play a miriad of great classic games and the support from Ubi has been astounding.

I'd like to hear more details on the controller though. Their promotional videos show it using the regular controller and I luckily have 2 of those atm. I'll be testing this heavily in the next 24hrs so will update with some impressions later.

Also on a separate note, I don't think that OnLive deserves to be judged as a service on the merits/shortcomings of the ISP's that it is used on. It's like saying that your Xbox looks rubbish because it's being played through an SD TV.
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David Bachowski VP Business Development, Babaroga6 years ago
I think this definitely has the potential to truly change the world. Anyone who complains about latency or data caps/fees just isn't forward thinking enough to realize that these things are going to be obsolete in the future.
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Luke Harris Studying BSC Computing, Open University6 years ago
Last time I tried the PC service on a friends intergrated graphics card the PC client still required PixelShader 2 or above. Better support for the current software before chasing other marginal markets.
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Diego Santos Lećo Creative Director, GameBlox Interactive6 years ago
The article don't mention a deal with with Apple. If it is so, the app will simply be banned.
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 6 years ago
Martin can you confirm that Perlman said "within 24hrs"? At the moment, it seems that the iOS version is indefinitely in the hands of Apple (as Diego said).
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Kirk Kading writer 6 years ago
4G for cellular devices is nowhere near actual speeds that 4G would/should be at. So yes, it is faster than 3G, but it is not Actual 4G. Tie this to data charges for any Wireless Carrier or xGB data limitation and it is not cost effective to any but Lab-test or bleeding-edge users.
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Christian Kramer Managing Director, Digitalmindsoft6 years ago
All this 3G/4G talk...
Smartphones support wireless LAN. Heck even trains have hotspots. So what's the issue? That you can't play while you ride your bike?
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
There is a difference between playing an MM0 on the train, which runs fine at 3k per second and half second delays, and a video stream at 750k which needs to be instantaneous at all times. Just try streaming a 1080p Youtube video on a train station, that is what Onlive will feel like.

Behind every WiFi hotspot there is an Internet connection with the same failings and the same problems. Too many users, too little bandwidth, too many connections at the same time. Before you know it, your latency will spike to one second and more.

Vodafone, T-Mobile and all the rest will not ever allow high-speed unlimited bandwidth. They do not make a lot of profit selling the phones, they do not make money off all the app stores on the phones, so selling bytes is pretty much the last straw here.

Besides, didn't Onlive want to go after a crowd who thought consoles were too expensive? Wasn't their revolution a cutting of hardware costs for the consumer? Am I the only one to find it a little bit strange that they now release their product on overpriced toys?

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Christian Kramer Managing Director, Digitalmindsoft6 years ago
I read a couple of years ago that a service like OnLive is technically impossible and would never work out with the exact same arguments on pretty much every news source.

Apparently there will be flaws and a lot of issues to iron out. Just try to give them a little bit of support for their pioneer work or wait at least until you tried it out yourself.

By all means, I think they are smart enough to identify all of those potential problems you named very well themselves.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
I am not doubting Onlive here. Onlive does have most of its issues in check. But they do have to rely on the infrastructure of others and that is when things go awry.

Just for a second, imagine Onlive being a mass market item with 40.000.000 users rivaling a console. Try to imagine traffic in excess of 20 Terabyte per second, at peak times. Again, all the users might have the required 6Mbit connection, Onlive might have build enough datacenters, but the carriers in between will get torn to shreds. Not everything runs on a Cisco CRS3

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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments6 years ago
Gave this a go last night on an HTC desire HD. Bit of hassle connecting (assume they're getting hammered right now) and it wouldn't even log on over 3G. Over wifi it was useable, spectating worked nicely, in game was just about playable - the controls were a bigger issue than the speed issues, two sticks and several buttons is too much on phone screen for me. Video was good enough to see what was going on, but very visibly compressed.
Very impressive technically, suspect it's meant for faster wifi and a tablet. Being able to spectate on a friend from your phone is a pretty cool trick though.
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Paul Shirley Programmers 6 years ago
@John Bye on free WiFi: a lot of free WiFi specifically excludes streaming so even WiFi might not be much use. Already have problems with YouTube in some places.


Klaus Preisinger on trains: here in the UK even getting a signal on a train can be a problem, my O2 SIM rarely works anywhere but stations. Then again, O2 only started building 3G coverage when told they'd lose their licence for being 3 years behind promised coverage. Coverage in the UK is a lottery where most are losers.

TBH Onlive has been disappointing so far, it works but falls just short of being worth using on a 10Mbit line, at a serious cost in lowered render quality and noticeable lag issues (motion sickness for me). That's on a wired connection through cable broadband, use over 3G with 3-10x more latency seems a stretch.
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David Bachowski VP Business Development, Babaroga6 years ago
why does everyone keep bringing up issues with data caps and wifi speed? These will obviously improve over time (as all technology does). OnLive is betting on a pretty sure prediction of faster and better availability of interwebs.

I'm not saying these aren't issues right now, but having an opinion that "Onlive will never work" because of these factors seems extremely shortsighted.

I also don't think Onlive will replace all other forms of gaming, or even any of them. But it is a nice alternative to buying a console, especially now that I don't have to own a TV.
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Paul Shirley Programmers 6 years ago
@David Bachowski:

For the majority of UK customers the data cap is currently a serious problem and a potential hidden cost if users need to upgrade their package - for example BT's tiers are [10Gb,40Gb,unlimited] and its guestimated you'd hit the 10Gb in less than 5 hours play. The 40Gb probably isn't enough for a month. Relatively few of us are on unlimited deals, almost none on unlimited without traffic shaping. Yes, it's a problem that will go away but it's likely to take a few years and some very annoyed customers before then... at which point we'll all expect higher quality and start the whole cycle again!

WiFi: This afternoon I installed the Android app and tested. Played smoothly on my Xperia Play over 54G WiFi (and the small screen hid the artefacting very well!). Switched over to 3G and suddenly couldn't even read menus and the connection dropped completely after 30s, when it could even connect. I tested in the 1 location I know has good, 7.2Mbit HSPDA and no contention (they're all at work). If the best 3G I ever see couldn't cope you'll be looking for WiFi. Sadly, public WiFi is usually congested and throttled to death as well.

Let's just say I won't be relying on Onlive away from home in the UK any year soon.

(I also probably won't be using it till they build an Xperia Play optimised client - the onscreen controls weren't much fun on my phone ;)
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This'll be great to have around on the first days of the new consoles. Try before you buy indeed.
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Bruce Kennedy BAhons Creative Director, Kennedy Monk Limited6 years ago
This is the PR exposure OnLive needed. I've been enjoying the service for nearly a year now and I'm still amazed when I tell anyone (gaming geeks, tech geeks included) literally no-one has heard of it. I think this will set people talking at last. Regardless of how impractical it is to actually take this service on the road with you right now, or how likely it is to actually appear on iOS devices (oh how I whish!). Just more proof, if it was needed, that the mobile space is by far the biggest tech game in town now.
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