Cloud-gaming company OnLive returns in a big way

Company hires former EA and Disney veterans to lead the outfit, as it announces new CloudLift streaming subscription and OnLive Go service.

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Cloud-gaming company OnLive has flown under the radar since its dramatic corporate shakeup in summer 2012, but the outfit is back, and in a big way. The company announced today that it has assembled an "all-star" team--including former Electronic Arts and Disney veterans--to lead the group as it launches a new streaming subscription program CloudLift and a new service called OnLive Go.

Leading the round of new hires at OnLive is former IGN and VUDU executive Mark Jung (executive chairman), former Electronic Arts director of partner management Carrie Holder (VP of business development), former Disney Interactive VP Rick Sanchez (VP of product and marketing), and former VP of broadcast solutions at Gracenote Inc. Don Gordon (SVP of engineering).

"Not that we ever went anywhere, but we're back," Jung told GameSpot today. "There is one thing that we believe as a mantra, which is gamers come first, always. And we are so customer-oriented, we're so gamer-centric. We understand the gamers and who they are and that's the most important thing."

OnLive's main announcement today, however, was CloudLift, the latest addition to its OnLive Game Service. A subscription-based offering ($15/month with free 7-day trial), CloudLift works by linking a player's game library with their OnLive account to sync cloud saves automatically through the cloud. This means that when the functionality goes live (should be today), you'll be able to begin a game on your PC and then sign into OnLive from any other device and pick up right where you left off.

The CloudLift subscription works with "supported games" purchased from any download retailer (including juggernaut Steam) and fully supports multiplayer gaming, the company said. In short, through CloudLift you'll get access to streaming versions of games you already downloaded. What's more, OnLive will also sell Steam download game codes that include a 7-day free trial of CloudLift. This makes OnLive the only digital retailer that offers cloud play as part of a game purchase, the company said.

"We've listened to our players. They want the convenience of instant access to their games wherever they are, but they also want to own the game and be able to play it locally on their home PC," Jung said in a statement. "With this new offering, we’re continuing to expand on the compatibility, freedom and instant access our users enjoy, with the added flexibility of owning a local copy of their games."

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OnLive says CloudLift is a "win" for publishers and developers alike, as it complements their own digital distribution channels. At launch, CloudLift will support new games like Batman: Arkham Origins, The Lego Movie Videogame, and Saints Row IV. More will be added in the future.

The company will continue to offer its PlayPack subscription ($10/month), which allows members unlimited play for more than 250 games.

OnLive's third announcement today is for its new OnLive Go business line, which the company says brings the benefits of cloud gaming to MMOs and virtual world experiences. The first app to showcase OnLive Go is a mobile viewer for Linden Lab's Second Life called SL Go. OnLive has also partnered with War Thunder developer Gaijin Entertainment for a new OnLive Go app, though this was not detailed at all.

Finally, OnLive said it has invested in "significant technology upgrades" in the past year, including the addition of "thousands" of new servers that use the "latest available technology." OnLive has also opened data centers in Chicago and Seattle, and beefed up its existing centers in Virginia, San Francisco, Dallas, and Luxembourg.

OnLive works by streaming games from its data centers in the cloud to a range of devices, including PC, Mac, many Android tablets and smartphones, and through your high-definition TV if you own the $99 OnLive Gaming System. You can also buy a $50 wireless OnLive controller to play on your PC or Mac.

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