Google TV adds OnLive game service

In addition to touting major hardware support at CES, Google TV is also getting new content partners.

OnLive, a cloud-based gaming service, has pledged to support Google TV with a dedicated app that lets users play games from their TV with no external box required.

While it doesn’t exactly have the backing of the major players known as the PS3, Wii, and Xbox 360, OnLive demonstrates to the full extent what those other consoles have been shifting toward – digital distribution.

Sony turned eyes with its PSPgo system, a handheld device that has no slot for game discs and instead requires users to download games to the system. Beyond that, all three home consoles consider digital downloads to be a major part of their future plans.

OnLive is an important concept device because it shows that an entire game system, connected to a TV, with an Internet connection instead of a disc slot, can be a reality.

The service has gained a lot of support from major game publishers and is only continuing to grow in that field. There are two different options, mimicking the video streaming environment that is much more robust – users can either sign up for a monthly fee and play as many games as they want, but only be able to access games from publishers that have specifically opted into this option.

Or, for a wider selection, players can purchase individual games at retail or near-retail prices and play them instantly. Nothing is ever downloaded to a hard drive. It’s all streamed from the cloud or temporarily locally cached.

This is finally what Google TV owners have been asking for – something that differentiates the Google platform from other manufacturer-built Internet TV platforms like those from Samsung and Panasonic. No other TV has built-in OnLive connectivity, so this is a good start.