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Steve Perlman discusses OnLive's growth, potential new platforms and plans for exclusive games


"I guess we're now a medium-sized company instead of a startup because we have over 200 people," OnLive CEO Steve Perlman told Joystiq when we met with him to get our hands on the company's final MicroConsole hardware earlier this month. "We've had over two million sessions, which is basically when someone uses the service. Some of them are short, while others are quite long, on the order of 20 hours."

While not providing deeper usage statistics, Perlman remarked that "The growth has been rapidly accelerating. We had more people using OnLive in October than in all the months previous. November is even growing beyond that." This in the absence of any substantial marketing, and without a presence in the living room. That will all change, he said, with the December 2 introduction of what is being billed as the service's "TV adapter" and a corresponding major media ad push.

The company is betting on the device's $99 price point and simple setup to establish a foothold in console gaming -- Perlman said that it's more about the "TV market," which "is 10 times larger than the PC or Mac market" -- and that publishers continue to be sold on the platform. "All the hand waving and all the slide shows and demos ... checks seem to have more influence on publishers than anything."

"We have over 100 games in the pipeline," he said. Publishers "legitimately have reasons to be skeptical, but what is happening now is they're saying 'wow, this isn't just an adjunct platform,' this is something they're going to design to. For example the media controls -- you'll see games that have those built in." Not only that, but games are being developed exclusively for OnLive which Perlman says "wouldn't be possible on the kind of hardware people currently have at home."

Eventually we'll have content that is not available on anything but OnLive. - Steve Perlman

"Currently, when you look at our games, these are all games you can get somewhere else, PC or console," he said. "It's been an evolving thing, going from a PC SKU to a thing that's in-between a PC and console SKU to a SKU that's matching the console one-to-one, and eventually we'll have content that is not available on anything but OnLive."

Looking at the near future, the company is banking on big-name releases such as Duke Nukem Forever, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Red Faction: Armageddon, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, F.E.A.R. 3 and the next Driver installment to attract players.

OnLive hasn't forgotten about iOS versions of its client software, Perlman told us. "It's a case [that the developers] haven't made any accommodation for touch. I can tell you that the guys who designed Just Cause 2 didn't think that their game would ever be running on a tablet," he said, before stating that the first iterations of OnLive for Apple's devices will be viewers capable of spectating in other players' games. Some version of the service is also destined for Android, he confirmed.

When asked about other platforms -- specifically Apple TV and Google TV -- Perlman said the company sees potential in clients for them, but that the question of when or if these will be made available comes down to a matter of hardware capabilities. "Apple TV is one particular issue. It runs at 720p/30, so you can never get above 30 frames per second, you can't get 720p. I think for most gamers they just wouldn't be able to play. You'd notice that the games are really stuttery," we were told. "But there are other devices. Google TV, for example, can go to a higher res. Yes, we'd be happy to work on that, and we've also made it so that the computing power needed is very, very low."

I think the first thing people want is more games on the service. - Steve Perlman

Discussing the idea of other service's clients, such as Netflix and Hulu, eventually running over OnLive -- think about it: it'd technically be streaming ... streaming! -- Perlman said the company is all for this happening, but that, for now, its engineering resources are focused elsewhere. "They can. We have an SDK and you can run pretty much anything you want on it," he told us. "It's more a question of focus. Cloud gaming was just introduced, so as far as the longer-term, yes, but I think the first thing people want is more games on the service."

"The mentality is one of trying to maintain simplicity, not closed-ness."

Having proven that "instant on" gaming works, he couldn't comment on whether or not the company has designs to get into the other two big streaming markets -- video and music -- instead reinforcing that, at least for now, it's all about the games. "The notion of having to wait an hour and a half for an hour and a half movie or wait five minutes for a five-minute song is in the past. But the notion of having to wait a couple of hours to download a game is still with us, or to go to a store and get a disc, and so forth. So OnLive kind of is that last step."

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