Speaking at Develop Liverpool, Google developer advocate Paul Kinlan says that the company will add native gamepad, webcam, microphone, and content streaming support to Chrome sometime in early 2012 — all of which could eventually enable a pretty compelling OnLive-like cloud gaming experience in the browser without the need for plugins. According to Edge, Kinlan says that streaming services would be supported by WebRTC, an open-source video chat application which runs directly in the browser.
If Chrome does receive these upgrades, especially those for native peripheral support, it would move the browser closer to operating-system territory. There's no official word from Google yet on when these upgrades will come along, which features will be final, or to what extent, but we will certainly keep tabs on these plans — if early 2012 is indeed the target, we're bound to hear something soon.
Update: Edge has revised its original story after Kinlan clarified that Google is not working on its own cloud gaming service but instead will simply be adding WebRTC technology that could support native cloud gaming. We've updated our post accordingly.