NEW YORK - OnLive, the startup whose technology streams high-end video games over an Internet connection, is expanding its service to tablets and mobile devices.
OnLive Inc. said Thursday that it will now stream console-quality games on tablets and phones using a mobile application. Users could already stream such games using OnLive's "microconsole," a cassette-tape sized gadget attached to their TV sets, or on computers.
The company's streaming technology is similar to what Netflix Inc. and others use to let people watch movies over an Internet connection. But the process is much more complex with video games. That's because games cannot be compressed into smaller files, like movies are, before they are sent over a broadband connection. Since they are interactive, video games require an immediate reaction to the player's actions, so that the character on screen responds immediately to the player pulling a trigger or swinging a tennis racket.
OnLive's technology lets its servers communicate with players' gadgets in real time. Because many of the games require huge amounts of processing power, previously they could only be played on high-definition gaming consoles such as the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. But when they are streamed, the games technically "play" on OnLive's remote servers and are piped onto players' phones, tablets or computers.
OnLive users in the U.S. and the U.K. will be able to use the mobile and tablet service. Games available include "L.A. Noire" from Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. and "Batman: Arkham City." The games can be played either using the gadgets' touch screens or via OnLive's game controller, which looks similar to what's used to play the Xbox or PlayStation.
Though OnLive's service has gained traction among gamers, it has yet to reach a mass market audience.