Like chocolate and peanut butter or Linus and his blanket, some things just belong together. Wikipad and OnLive hope they’ve got that kind of bond in their future, and if it works out, gamers are going to reap the benefits.
Wikipad brings the hardware side to the partnership thanks to its Wikipad 7, a 7-inch Android tablet with a quad core CPU and upgradeable storage. But what really makes it shine for games is the proprietary controller that wraps around the screen as the tablet slides into it, providing dual analog sticks, bumper buttons and triggers on both sides, a d-pad and A, B, X and Y buttons. The Wikipad 7 was on hand this year at E3, and it’s a pretty slick device, as the controller feels solid without making the whole thing bulky or heavy.
The Wikipad’s low latency made it attractive to OnLive, who was looking for the right tablet partner for its recently launched CloudLift service. Using CloudLift, players can stream PC games from multiple digital libraries (like Steam, for one) to PCs, Macs, TVs or mobile devices without worrying about hardware requirements because OnLive’s cloud servers do most of the hard work. In some ways, it’s a fulfillment of some of the promise OnLive showed when it first was founded in 2010, before a bumpy road for its initial vision —which included a box that connected to a user’s TV — led to it being dissolved and reborn.
Now the company’s motto is “bringing big games to small devices,” which led it to the partnership with Wikipad. Since the Wikipad 7 could thrive with more content and OnLive needs hardware it can trust to recommend to users, it seems like a perfect match. And it could be, but only if both sides continue to expand their offerings.
To that end, OnLive is agressively looking to expand the number of games supported by CloudLift, telling Gamezebo at E3 that it is close to securing additional deals that it can’t announce just yet and is constantly increasing its library. It added the free-to-play military MMO War Thunder to its library in May, but the amount of newer titles playable through the service is currently pretty small.
Meanwhile, Wikipad has another product in development that could bring another significant mobile device to the table: the Gamevice, a two-piece controller that connects to both ends of a tablet through the use of a flexible bridge and then locks in place. The Gamevice offers all the same controls to a standard tablet that the Wikipad 7 packs, and there’s even one in the works that is made for the iPad Mini. There’s no guarantee that CloudLift will be available to use on an Apple device, but if it happens, that would be big news.
For now, the CloudLift mobile app is optimized for use on the Wikipad 7, which is available at a variety of retailers. If playing AAA PC games on the go is ever going to become a thing, this just might be the partnership that gets us there.