OnLive announces new staff, new partnerships, new updates

Streaming game company OnLive has had quite a bit of news in the past few days. First was the announcement that former Pandora COO Etienne Handman will be joining OnLive as COO. Handman replaces Mike McGarvey, who'll become Chief Strategy Officer, which in turn will free up CEO Steve Perlman to work on new projects, presumably expanding OnLive beyond games. VentureBeat has all the details on the transition.

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Of more immediate interest to consumers, Vizio and OnLive have announced that the next generation of Vizio's Via Plus line of televisions (as well as some Vizio Blu-ray players) will have OnLive built in. It'll run as an app in the same way that, for example, Netflix streaming does. No word yet on whether these devices will come with a controller, or if controllers will be sold separately, or what the plan is. We'll probably learn more details during CES. If you aren't in the market for a new TV or Blu-ray player but you're still interesting in bringing OnLive into the living room, you'll be happy to hear OnLive is having a sale on their OnLive Game System. During CES you can get if for 33% off (leaving it at $66 US) and you'll still get a coupon for a free game and access to the PlayPack beta. I bought the system at full price and feel it was worth the $99 price. There's already an OnLive Viewer app for the iPad, but OnLive is coming to Android tablets as well. Better still, on Android it won't be just a viewer, but you'll be able to play some games on that platform. Exactly which games will ultimately depend on the publishers who'll have to support touch controls in their games. Perlman told Gamasutra:

"If a game does not support touch [controls], we cannot make it support touch," he explained, "but the publishers are developing touch [and inertial] interfaces for them. So as those touch interfaces roll out, then yes, they will work on the tablets." Perlman also said that thanks to the open nature of the Android platform, manufacturers are creating more traditional game controllers for Android tablets. Some resemble a gamepad cut in half, where one half snaps on either side of the table screen, Perlman said. Certain Android tablets will also potentially work with Onlive's official controller, if the mobile device supports the appropriate RF interface.

(This is the first I've heard of these Android game controllers; if anyone has more info on these please leave a comment!) Lastly is the news that OnLive will be demoing a version of its service with SRS 5.1 surround sound at CES (an important addition if they're planning on getting into the streaming movie business). The addition of SRS 5.1, 1080P streaming and an update that promises to reduce lag even further are all promised for the months to come. Sounds like OnLive's inertia is really building; now if they could just ramp up their game library. It is growing, slowly, but they've still got a ways to go before they have 40 titles in their PlayPack (subscription) service.

Peter Smith writes about personal technology for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @pasmith.

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