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E3 2011: OnLive comes to Facebook, tablets

For E3 2011, OnLive has a series of announcements that cover new games, new hardware, and new platforms.



We've been cautiously optimistic about online streaming game service OnLive since it launched about a year ago. For the uninitiated, it's essentially cloud-based PC gaming that originally allowed nearly any laptop or desktop to play high-end PC games by offloading the CPU- and GPU-intensive tasks of actually running the game software to a remote render farm, then beaming the gameplay back to you as a streaming video.

Later, the company added a MicroConsole--a small box that connects to a TV via HDMI and acts as a streaming dongle for the games, which are played with a wireless controller similar to an Xbox gamepad. At CES 2011, we saw support for some Vizio TVs and HTC devices as a built-in app. For E3 2011, OnLive has a series of announcements that cover new games, new hardware, and new platforms. Potentially the biggest is that OnLive gameplay support is coming to devices that use Intel's Atom CE4100 processor, which will include TVs and set-top boxes (although we don't have a definitive list of devices yet).

Related links
Hands-on with OnLive: Is this the future of PC gaming?
Hands-on with the OnLive MicroConsole
E3 2011: Complete coverage

Also catching our attention is Facebook integration. No, OnLive isn't remaking itself as a Facebook gaming platform, but the service can now post status updates and clips of in-game video footage, as well as launch the PC OnLive app directly from Facebook.

Finally, there's going to be a new universal gamepad, which looks a lot like the one that comes with the already available MicroConsole, expect the new version will work with nearly any OnLive compatible device, such as set-top boxes, tablets, or TVs. At E3, the company will be demonstrating the wireless controller with Vizio TVs and the HTC Flyer tablet, but we'll be curious to see it eventually work on the iPad (something OnLive says in in the pipeline).

There's already an iOS app that lets you browse the menus and watch live gameplay footage from other users, but you can't yet play games from an iPad. Based on previous conversations we've had with the company, there are some technological barriers of getting a wireless game controller to work in iOS, but with Ion's iCade on the market, it's now demonstratively possible.