Sections

OnLive shutting down, Sony snaps up patents

Service will end on April 30, latest subscriptions to be refunded

Cloud gaming company OnLive has confirmed that it's terminating its service on April 30 and will shut down. It has sold around 140 cloud gaming patents to Sony Computer Entertainment.

"These strategic purchases open up great opportunities for our gamers, and gives Sony a formidable patent portfolio in cloud gaming," said Philip Rosenberg, VP, Global Business Development of SCE and SVP Business Development and Publisher Relations of Sony Computer Entertainment America.

"It is yet another proof point that demonstrates our commitment to changing the way gamers experience the world of PlayStation."

Sony Computer Entertainment made headlines in July 2012 when it acquired OnLive's rival, Gaikai, for $380 million.

The terms of the deal with OnLive were not disclosed.

But what does this mean for OnLive's users?

"Users will continue to have access to OnLive's services until April 30, 2015, including the OnLive Game Service, OnLive Desktop, and SL Go (Second Life)," OnLive said in a statement.

"After today's date, no further subscription renewals will be charged for any of these services. Users whose subscriptions renewed on or after March 28 will be refunded. Following the termination of the company's services and related products, OnLive will engage in an orderly wind-down of the company and cease operations."

The company has also provided a short FAQ for users, one that confirms that PlayPass games purchased through the service will no longer be available to consumers after April 30.

OnLive has had a tumultuous time in the cloud gaming market. The service was first revealed in March 2009 with big promises, publisher support and WebTV founder Steve Perlman and former Eidos CEO Mike McGarvey at the helm.

In August 2012 reports came through that the company had fired all employees but intended to continue. OnLive later issued the following statement:

"We can now confirm that the assets of OnLive, Inc. have been acquired into a newly-formed company and is backed by substantial funding, and which will continue to operate the OnLive Game and Desktop services, as well as support all of OnLive's apps and devices, as well as game, productivity and enterprise partnerships. The new company is hiring a large percentage of OnLive, Inc.'s staff across all departments and plans to continue to hire substantially more people, including additional OnLive employees. All previously announced products and services, including those in the works, will continue and there is no expected interruption of any OnLive services."

The substantial funding came from the new owner, Lauder Partners, and was sorely needed as the company had a reported $30 and $40 million before its closure and rebirth. It relaunched in March 2014 with a new business model, one that clearly failed to find traction in today's market.

Related stories

PS3 was "a stark moment of hubris" - Layden

Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios chairman reflects on last generation's missteps and how the company changed course for PS4

By Brendan Sinclair

UK charts: Spider-Man is fastest-selling game of the year

Most successful week one for a Marvel game

By Christopher Dring

Latest comments (13)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
My God. I never saw this coming at all!

Oh wait, I did. And got flamed each time I spoke...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
You weren't the only one Paul. Back when Sony purchased Gaikai, many sites(I believe this one as well) started speculating that Microsoft needed to purchase OnLive as a counter move to Sony. But Microsoft(and most of us paying attention) clearly saw the writing on the wall for OnLive. The only surprising thing was that someone bought them as they were about to close down the first time. But Microsoft was smart enough to pass on them and also had their own cloud gaming agenda in the works. I'm now recalling all the amusing conversations I had with PC gamer's who once told me that OnLive was the future of gaming that was going to make consoles obsolete.
3Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 3 years ago
streaming console gaming just isn't something people want. Micro consoles that could support PS1/2 games, allw you to convert existing libraries to digital for a fee? That could work. Everyone likes EA Access, they could do gangbusters getting emulation going for their old Genesis and PC games (Strike series, Wing Oommander. How about a good old games mother app and DOSBox Port? Yum!)

But why would you want to stream it? Movies make sense to stream. They're very scalable, and they don't need precise timing or to see small details. Netflix's algorithm is hugely impressive in how well it eliminates the small stuff. You can't do that with games.
3Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (13)
Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
The whole thing felt like a VC funding swizz from day one to me. Even if it was technically possible on a widespread basis, it's still just a solution looking for a problem.
3Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
OnLive was an interesting idea in my opinion but the issue is, I don't really think people really cared or wanted it. Not only that, but it comes with a lot of problems that just really are not worth it. Maybe in the future that will change.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Brook Davidson on 3rd April 2015 10:50pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Game Manager, Azoomee3 years ago
Find it very intriguing, expected OnLive to be acquired just not by Sony, who now have both this and Gaikai.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 3 years ago
@John

It's not just infrastructure, it's the huge lag introduced by the trip

I always felt OnLive was designed as an acquisition target for cable companies to install very local nodes. But they didn't bite.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Julian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.3 years ago
As I recall the media were all over OnLive and barely mentioned Gaikai, then at the same time that Gaikai was sold for $380M OnLive went bust. It just shows how hard it is for reporters to find out what is really going on.
On a technical level wasn't the idea to download the next bit of content just in time to render locally, thereby removing the need for an ultra-low-latency connection?
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Keldon Alleyne Strategic keyboard basher, Avasopht Ltd3 years ago
I always felt OnLive was designed as an acquisition target for cable companies to install very local nodes. But they didn't bite.
That's what I always said would be the best way to reduce lag. Also they could have invested some of that 30 million into developing a few killer apps that can only be achieved through streaming.

Just think of how you could have packaged something looking like a Wii-U controller playing Monstrously Multiplayer Online Games where there is no more dead reckoning, then combined with clever more localised processing to give lower lag they could have created new gaming experiences. They could have even gone as far as creating a new network for regional multiplayer experiences with hundreds of online participants taking place in a single game.

Imagine a war game where there are hundreds of opponents? Or a sandbox game where all of the buildings could be blown apart in a world as big as or bigger than our own because they are processing on a network of localised machines that allows them to do far more than a PC or console ever could.

Surprised nobody ever looked at that angle (with all the investment an all).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 6th April 2015 2:14pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Paul Shirley Programmers 3 years ago
I always felt OnLive was designed as an acquisition target for cable companies to install very local nodes. But they didn't bite.
The economics never made much sense at a local level. The business is selling timeshared hardware with strong RT performance guarantees. More local -> smaller user pool -> lower sharing efficiency, ideally you want a cloud covering multiple timezones to spread the demand at least. The only way it works is building a distributed compute cloud and keeping the machines busy servicing that when free, that's not a business the cable company's have any history in.

Amazon and Google might have made that work but don't need am unproven game streaming game biz. No game company is able to compete with the incumbent cloud providers, so they won't do it. What's left is a virtual PC rental business with pennies left over to pay for content and seriously underwhelming performance. Why is anyone surprised it didn't work out?
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 3 years ago
That'll teach you to buy games digitally.............. This ofcourse is a good example of why you have to be very carefull with buying digital only games, because now you lost your money even though the game is also available on stuff like steam etc.. Even though Steam isn't likely to be shut down, it IS a possibility, and what happens then?
In this case it would have been great for users if the PlayPass games gamers have bought could somehow be transfered to Steam, Gog, Origin or some kind of service..
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Game Manager, Azoomee3 years ago
As I recall the media were all over OnLive and barely mentioned Gaikai
OnLive originally made huge headlines from their E3 reveal, which then forced the hand of David Perry to reveal their product. Though it was already being used for demos etc. It looks like Gaikai had a more sensible business model and actively worked with third parties as a solution for their needs.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
@Andrew
A physical copy of a game is more likely to be scratched beyond repair than steam shutting down. XD
No copy of a game is safe, physical or digital. Both have their negatives and positives.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.