First announced at GDC in 2009, few people actually believed that OnLive could exist. Back then, the idea of realtime cloud-based gaming was closer to science fiction than anything that most felt could actually be reality. We got a first look at the iPad client at E3 2010, and while you could only view people playing games, it totally worked. In 2011, we visited the OnLive guys again at E3, only this time they had a totally working iPad client with a Bluetooth controller that allowed you to play real console-like games on the iPad with a controller.

In early december of las year, OnLive started ramping up marketing efforts for the iOS client and in the process sent us a build of the client (the one you see here today) and one of the Bluetooth controllers that we saw at E3. It worked great, arguably even better than at E3 since my own home isn't inundated with a completely ruined wireless spectrum from a zillion smartphones and other devices broadcasting on any and all frequencies.

We were on the verge of releasing some massive preview coverage, but stepped on the brakes as we waited for details like when specifically the OnLive app was hitting, and other particulars. Not long after, OnLive went almost completely dark on the iOS front. This year at E3, we learned that they're still having issues with approval.

I could speculate all day as to why the OnLive app still hasn't been approved by Apple, but, in the meantime, the mobile provisioning file that OnLive originally sent me last year has been slowly expiring. It fully expired today, and I figured since this is potentially our last chance to play OnLive games on our iPad before it's (hopefully) eventually released, we recorded a bunch of video.

Before you watch these, be aware of the following caveats: First off, this is a build from last year, it's entirely possible (and probable) that OnLive have tweaked, optimized, or re-worked things since then- Specifically when it comes to the touch controls that you will see in the second video. Secondly, this video has been processed quite a bit. There's the original compression that the Game Capture HD does, the import into iMovie, and the re-compression with the commentary audio and TouchArcade watermark.

Additionally, YouTube does whatever wizardry it does behind the scenes which could further impact quality. In my experience with playing OnLive on the iPad, especially with the Bluetooth controller, it both plays and looks great. To see uncompressed screenshots of OnLive on the iPad to see actual color representation and artifacting in game, click any of the above thumbnails.

With that out of the way, OnLive for the iPad:

And here's a second video of OnLive, this time using the on-screen touch controls:

Please don't take these videos as any indication that we know anything more about OnLive (We don't!) and/or that it's possibly coming soon. It's been in approval purgatory as far as we know for over six months now, and that's as in depth as OnLive seems to want to get when it comes to commenting on the matter. These videos basically just amount to the preview coverage we would've done back in December, if things had gone the way they were supposed to.

Hopefully there's some light at the end of the tunnel, as I'm beyond bummed that as of this afternoon I've lost the ability to play OnLive on my iPad. If nothing else, take these videos (and screenshots) as an example of what could have been, and with any luck will be available at some point in the future.

  • 1337brian

    Total bummer... I've officially lost hope that this will ever see the light of day on the appstore.

  • Adams Immersive

    Here’s hoping!

    There’s no intuitively obvious reason why this couldn’t be on the App Store. If IAP is the roadblock, that seems too simple to require months of work. That could simply work like the Amazon and Netflix apps: skip IAP and rely on a web site for payments. Awkward maybe, but that wouldn’t affect the main thing: playing!

    • Brian Collins

      I would think it has to do with Apple controlling content.  By allowing content in the App Store that doesn't go through Apple's editorial decisions, it would be creating a portal where it wouldn't control what can and can't get onto it's devices.  OnLive could then, theoretically, provide content Apple deemed as inappropriate.

      Also, they probably would want a cut of the money, but since it's not available as an IAP they wouldn't get any for purchases made on their devices.

      • Adams Immersive

        Right, but Apple already allows—in their rules and in practice—lots of high-profile content that they neither control nor profit from... except by selling devices, which is by far their largest profit source. "Anything goes” on the web, in terms of both content and payment, and Apple has shown no interest in limiting that. And they allow apps such as Netflix and Kindle that openly compete with iTunes movies and iBooks, and that allow unlimited content with no guidelines for appropriateness, and that give no cut to Apple. They even allow games and apps to use non-Apple ad services, making money off of Apple’s store and servers with no cut going to Apple.

        In any case, Apple’s goals with editorial guidelines seem to be aimed at a) letting parents limit their children, which an App Store rating for OnLive solves just as it does with Netflix, b) keeping the App Store from a flood of too much junk or (as may be the case with porn) the perception of junk--which OnLive clearly is not, and c) security and privacy, which OnLive need not threaten.

        OnLive threatens none of that, so it remains a mystery to me. I’m not saying Apple’s not at fault in some way we don’t know, I just see no reason yet to support any particular explanation.

      • Brian Collins

        Solid points, I concede the high ground.  But man, now I just want it more...

      • Barc

        Unless, in one fell swoop it threatens Apple's efforts to mature their foothold in the gaming sector and they're still figuring out ways to assert control.

      • Matthew Nemeth

        I was thinking about that this morning too, BUT Apple could only lure everyone to said platform if they allowed mouse and keyboard input as well. I just got the onlive console after finding out it accepts both controller and keyboard/mouse, which for a FPS you really need...

        Time will tell I guess..

  • Matt Curtis


  • GSJ1977

    You could "speculate all day" about why it hasn't been approved? I'd have thought a few seconds of speculation would be more than enough.

  • philnolan3d

    Luckilly the Android version has been around for a long time and works great.

  • Rirath

    I still can't help but be mixed on OnLive.  I really like it, I've bought a few games on the service now - but my attempts to play Deus Ex: HR (over a wired, decent speed broadband connection) were like watching a YouTube video of someone playing.

    That said, when it works it's amazing - FTL (Kickstarter project) did a beta over OnLive and the experience of jumping in with no install and no setup was pretty awesome.  Situations like this, playing on an iPad with a controller, would be great as well.

    Here's hoping.  I rather wish they'd just officially release it via Cydia, but I'm sure that'd burn their last bridge with Apple.

    • GSJ1977

      Haha! Of course the Cydia release will never happen (regardless of the bridge fire hazard) but the thought still makes me smile.

  • Dpad

    Makes me wanna stop looking at my iPad 3 for games and maybe look at a nexus 7 now but that 7 inches makes me shudder.

    • philnolan3d

      There are plenty of fantastic Android tablets that are bigger than 7 inches. Even the Xoom I'm typing on is great and will be the first 10" tablet to get Jellybean.

  • chimpman252

    Lol I like how he thought he beat Assassin's Creed, but only actually had beaten the tutorial missions. Anyways makes me so jealous, I'm a huge supporter of OnLive and it kills me knowing there's a working build that consumers can't yet use. But oh well, if I could wait this long I can continue to wait....

  • b_e_q

    I'm guessing OnLive "going dark" on iOS status since last year is the usual tip-toeing around Apple. Apple holds all the cards, and has not been afraid to censure devs & other parties who stirs up *public* backlash.

    Consider me bummed as well, I too purchased the universal controller early in anticipation of theiOS release (we have 6 iPad 2's in the family).

  • yomachaser

    Beyond any control Apple would lose don't they see that the exclusion of this is just another feather in Google's cap as it works (and has for quite some time) on Android?

    The foot dragging with this is just stupid, they should release it now and then haggle for whatever deal over time IMO.

  • bobbylala

    It's a shame apple don't just buy onlive

    • REkzkaRZ

      I'm surprised Apple doesn't buy them too -- the infrastructure could pay them a lot, since they've got all these little screens out there...?

      I'd actually like to see Apple provide remote 'Mac / OS X' access for iPad/iPhone where you don't need to own the computer & why not do it thru onlive?  The $2k price tag on the new laptops makes me look at getting a Mac Mini, and I'm just not that psyched on a Mac Mini.