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OnLive: 'Xbox and PS3 can't match us for value'

Engineering boss Joe Bentley has his head in the Cloud...

Up until a few years ago, the combination of gaming and Clouds was a rarity - except, perhaps, for the discovery of Yoshi shapes floating about in the sky.

Now it's big business. First up is Gaikai, the streaming gaming service from Shiny Games founder Dave Perry that allows online ads to become full gameplay experiences - an idea that giant retailer WalMart is obviously keen on.

Then there's OnLive. Built on the dream of allowing gamers to play anywhere - any title on any screen in any location - the service is already having a rip-roaring 2011. With Silicon Valley millions in the bank, and the major publishers such as EA and Warner Bros on board, the future looks bright.

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Ahead of its BT-endorsed UK launch in the autumn, the firm has unveiled its new controller, which allows for instantaneous gaming on nearly any modern mobile device or TV whilst bypassing the need for a console.

Perhaps even more potential has been unlocked by the recent explosion in the tablet market - with the likes of Apple's iPad placing a decent-size portable screen in the rucksacks and handbags of millions of would-be players.

Forget Wii U: fancy playing the hottest new RPG at home 'til bedtime, then levelling up a little more on the train to work in the morning? That's the dream - and OnLive swears it's not far off.

The biggest problem in its path is latency, and the unimpressive average broadband speed suffered by great swathes of gaming's biggest markets. However, as OnLive VP of engineering Joe Bentley explains in our interview below, the company is confident that won't be an issue for much longer - and that both consumers and developers will reap financial benefits...

Playing games on tablets is nothing new - why are you so excited?
Really OnLive is the only game platform that allows you to play on all devices. We've always talked about "OnLive everywhere" and it's finally becoming a reality.

A lot of these tablets have surround sound, they've got bluetooth headsets with voice chat, so it's like my own little mini living room. I'm playing Borderlands here and there's no compromises. I get to play on something that was designed to be played on, I can put this in my lap and play at work, school or a coffee shop. It's uncompromised gaming to go. At home I can plug it into my TV and its the same experience.

It's great because now our publishing partners have come full circle. They were really sceptical at the beginning of last year, and nobody believed us two years ago. But it's fun because everyone is getting behind OnLive now and building innovative, beautiful games that [with traditional thinking] simply can't be played on tablets or even cell phones. Some of these games don't even run on consoles.

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It's fascinating now because the industry is really getting its head around the fact that they can grow their market. Imagine you get kicked out the living room. Now you can take your iPad to the couch and play while the kids are watching cartoons or whatever. You could put two friends in a coffee shop and they could play against each other, instead of split-screen they could each have a tablet.

What does this mean for the very concept of what a games console is - and if Sony of Microsoft invited you to have a presence on their online service would you agree?
Absolutely, they would make great consoles. Our controller is a hybrid between a PS3 controller and an Xbox controller. It's all compatible, it would just work. There are OnLive guys chatting [Sony and MS], but we'll see where it goes. But it would absolutely work, we're ready to work with everybody.

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