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OnLive is announcing a bunch of partnerships today that show the company’s games-on-demand service has a lot of momentum. In advance of the E3 trade show in Los Angeles next week, OnLive has lined up seven announcements, including an interesting integration with Facebook.
With the Facebook launch, you can play a game and then share your favorite scene — called a brag clip — instantly on Facebook. Friends can click on that link when they see it on your Facebook page, and it takes them directly into the OnLive service, where they can sign up or just log in. They can then instantly see that brag clip. They can also instantly join a game that you are playing or watch a game that you are playing — all with just a single click. The reaction is instantaneous.
For Facebook, this could be a big deal, because users will be able to access the highest-quality console-like games from within the social network, said Steve Perlman, chief executive of Palo Alto, Calif.-based OnLive, in an interview.
“It works seamlessly and takes a lot of the friction out of the experience of sharing a game experience with your friends,” Perlman said. “It’s seamlessly social. We think it’s a watershed event for the game industry.”
OnLive still isn’t saying how many users it has for its online game service, which it launched in mid-2010. But all the other tea leaves of growth are visible. Perlman said that the company is launching Red Faction Armageddon, a hot new action game, on June 7, the same day the game launches in stores. The game is the 100th one to launch on the service, which lets users play high-quality games on low-end computers. That’s a pretty good selection, up from just 19 titles a year ago. And it’s faster growth than any new game system has seen before, Perlman said.
“If this wasn’t working out for the publishers, they wouldn’t keep giving us their games,” Perlman said. One reason the game publishers like OnLive, Perlman said, is that they can earn money from older titles through the OnLive service. Normally, the publishers would make no money from the sale of older used games.
OnLive offers instant gratification with its games-on-demand service that debuted in June, 2010. Users log into OnLive and immediately play games that are computed and stored on OnLive’s data centers. Users don’t have to download anything and don’t need a high-end computer to play high-end games.
Users can rent or buy games, or subscribe to a Netflix-like game service for $9.99 a month that gets them access to older games. Last week, OnLive added the hit game Borderlands to that subscription bundle. And today it is announcing that the multiplayer version of Homefront, THQ’s acclaimed first-person shooting game, will be available on the PlayPack monthly library as well. The single-player version of Homefront is still sold a la carte. Now there are more than 60 games on the subscription service.
Disney Interactive Studios is now making its games available through OnLive, joining a total of 50 top game publishers who are participating in the service. About 40 of those publishers already have games on the service. Disney’s first two games are the hit racing games Split/Second and Pure.
In another announcement, OnLive said that its games-on-demand service will work with all Intel-based consumer TVs, Blu-ray players, and set-top boxes. OnLive previously announced that it is being designed into TV sets made by Vizio, the top seller of TVs in the U.S. By year end, Perlman said, OnLive will be accessible from as many as 25 million TVs.
Perlman also said that the company has developed a cool Universal Wireless Controller, which allows you to play OnLive games on your TV set (while using the OnLive Micro Console), Blu-ray players, tablet computers, PCs, and Macs. The ability to work with a tablet is cool, since you could play games with your fingers or using a controller. PC or Mac users can add a small universal serial bus dongle to their computers and connect the wireless controller to it.
Lastly, OnLive is now launching in its first European territory. The company will launch OnLive in the United Kingdom this autumn, and it is taking sign-ups now. That means OnLive and its partners are setting up data centers to support server-based gaming in the rest of the world. During the past year, OnLive hasn’t had a single outage.
OnLive investors include Warner Bros., Autodesk, Maverick Capital, AT&T, British Telecommunications and The Belgacom Group. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company was founded nine years ago and has 200 employees. Because its technology is potentially disruptive to traditional game retailers, investors recently valued the company at $1.8 billion.
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