OnLive assets sold, service to continue [Update]

Game streaming company OnLive has reportedly shut down.

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Update #2: Added confirmation from OnLive that the company has been sold.

Update #1: Added comment from OnLive representatives and analyst Michael Pachter. Additional information from new sources added.

OnLive has, for all intents and purposes, died. "We can now confirm that the assets of OnLive, Inc. have been acquired into a newly-formed company and is backed by substantial funding," a company spokesperson told VentureBeat. Although the company is being restructured, the OnLive service will continue. "There is no expected interruption of any OnLive services," the statement points out.

According to the representative, "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." Earlier reports indicated that the entire staff had been laid off.

Explaining the company's silence on the matter, the rep said that "we were unable to comment on this transaction until it completed, and were limited to reporting on news related to OnLive's businesses."

Original story follows.

Former employees of OnLive are claiming the imminent demise of the company. InXile Entertainment's Brian Fargo has posted a forwarded email from a now-former employee of the company, saying that by day's end "OnLive as an entity will no longer exist." It appears everyone at the company has been laid off. Gamasutra report concurs. According to statements posted on Facebook, "a new company will be formed" that will coordinate "current initiatives in place."

However, OnLive representatives claim that the service is not shutting down, in spite whatever may be happening at the company.

Sources close to Mashable report that the entire OnLive staff was fired at an all-hands meeting that took place at 10AM PT. The report also claims that "some staffers may be rehired as the company transitions to its next unknown iteration." Kotaku also received the same information, adding that the company plans on filing for bankruptcy later today.

OnLive offered streaming games that could run on a variety of devices, including PC, Mac, and Android. The company most recently announced a partnership with Ouya to bring their services to the Android-based device. OnLive also offered its own standalone TV-connected console.

Speaking to Shacknews, an OnLive representative said that "we don't respond to rumors and have no comment." The service will remain open, but there's still no word on the extent of layoffs. Analyst Michael Pachter tweeted that financing is "not an issue" at OnLive, so "it must be a changed strategy to an all IP model."

New reports from Engadget and GamePolitics suggest that the company is laying off at least 50 percent of its employees, and that a new company is buying OnLive. Apparently, the company has faced severe financial difficulties as of late, contradicting Pachter's claims. Shacknews will continue to update this story as new developments arise.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 17, 2012 12:15 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Rumor: OnLive to close today, 'new company will be formed'.

    Game streaming company OnLive has reportedly shut down.

    • reply
      August 17, 2012 12:34 PM

      Seeing this story all over the place, but all quoting the same guy. I bet we all just got trolled. If they really were shutting down, they'd have pulled the plug on the site already.

    • reply
      August 17, 2012 12:52 PM

      Wow, that sucks. I'm not a huge user of Onlive but I've used it from time to time to demo a few games. Just recently I played the first 30 minutes of Darksiders II just to give it a try before buying it on the 360 (which I did the next day). I actually have a few games on the service which I got for free for being a beta tester and I think I bought at least one (for a reduced price). This means I now probably can't play: Lego Batman, Just Cause 2, Red Faction Guerrilla and the original Darksiders! The only one I'm really sad about is Darksiders because it's a game I always intended on playing at some point.

      I'm curious to see what (if anything) comes out of this. They have some substantial data center infrastructure with big fat pipes going to them. I'd imagine they have some valuable assets as a company. I was kind of half wondering if MS would buy them up after Sony got Gaikai. Looks like tha'ts not going to happen...

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 12:55 PM

        Or not... having just read the replies above which I hadn't seen.

        This is strange. Why would Brian Fargo post this if he didn't have solid information? He's a respectable guy... he's the guying doing the new Wasteland 2 through Kickstarter.

    • reply
      August 17, 2012 12:58 PM

      This is just my theory. But I can't verify it yet. What seems likely is that the company has laid off most everyone off its payroll. A few people will remain, while others necessary for the upkeep of the service will be rehired on a freelance basis. The company will then be restructured--after current obligations are met. Still trying to get more info for you guys.

    • reply
      August 17, 2012 1:16 PM

      If true, it sucks that people will lose their jobs -- I don't really see what's so funny about this. Too bad it didn't work out as the idea was very ambitious.

    • reply
      August 17, 2012 1:23 PM

      From Giant Bomb...from Kotaku.

      UPDATE: Kotaku is reporting that despite OnLive's denials, the company is filing for bankruptcy in the state of California. The intent, according to Kotaku's source, is to reform the company as a new entity with a smaller staff. What that company will look like and what it's plans are for OnLive's current services are still unclear. Other sites are also citing more sources from inside OnLive confirming the layoff portion of the story. Still some questions floating around, but it looks like things are becoming a bit clearer.

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 1:42 PM

        Assuming the new reports are accurate, I bet they're prepping the company for sale. Meaning a cash out by the founders. Not necessarily closing, but selling the tech to some larger company. There's probably some hush-hush money coming in on the backside to prop the company up to handle the bankruptcy proceeding so they make themselves more attractive for the sale.

        Considering Sony's move this would make complete sense.

        • reply
          August 17, 2012 1:48 PM

          yeah I would assume whatever plan they had to try to be independent and scale out on their own has proven untenable and now they're looking to take the tech down a pure licensing/acquisition path

    • reply
      August 17, 2012 1:54 PM

      Gamasutra confirms they just laid off all their employees.

      http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/176180/OnLive_lays_off_all_employees.php

    • reply
      August 17, 2012 1:59 PM

      Gamasutra confirms that they've laid off all their employees.

      http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/176180/OnLive_lays_off_all_employees.php

    • reply
      August 17, 2012 2:25 PM

      Yay, fuck cloud gaming.

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 2:59 PM

        Another one is the same vein:

        http://www.joystiq.com/2012/08/17/onlive-losing-at-least-50-percent-of-staff-purchased-by-unkno/?a_dgi=aolshare_twitter

        My theory is Microsoft might buy them to compete with Sony and Gaikai.

        • reply
          August 17, 2012 4:10 PM

          The Engadget story mentions HP.

          Man if HP buys them they might as well just go away. HP will buy them, have another management changeover, and OnLive will get shuttered outright. Just look at what happened to Palm.

          If Microsoft buys them I bet they only trot them out if Sony ever actually does anything with Gaikai. I think Gaikai will just be swept under the rug and never actually make it into a Sony product. Sony having Gaikai and Microsoft having OnLive will be like the USA and USSR having nukes. They're never used, just held for mutually assured destruction.

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 4:13 PM

            Sony really doesn't have $400 million to spend on acquisitions they have no intention of using (the idea that anyone spends nearly half a billion on an acquisition without a plan for it seems... odd). Their plan may fail, the execution may be poor, whatever, but the idea that it simply exists as some sort of strategic missile in case of emergency seems very strange.

            • reply
              August 17, 2012 4:19 PM

              Sony's an odd company.

              But you make good points. I think the most likely scenario is that if Sony uses Gaikai they'll do so in a way that we don't expect.

              Something interesting to me is that if Microsoft buys OnLive and Sony has Gaikai, and they use them in their consoles, one of the big selling points of cloud gaming - hardware ubiquity - goes away. Now you can't just run OnLive anywhere you can run a browser, now you have to have an Xbox 720. Not that hardware ubiquity with OnLive ever really worked anyway - it wouldn't let you play Mass Effect on a Macintosh, for example ("ONLY ON WINDOWS AND XBOX 360" and all).

              Makes me wonder if their failure to deliver an iOS client has any relation to this recent maneuver.

              • reply
                August 17, 2012 4:21 PM

                Makes me wonder if their failure to deliver an iOS client has any relation to this recent maneuver.

                If their problem is profitably scaling, then an iOS client doesn't really change that. There's not much to suggest running the service gets cheaper as you build out. The more users you have, the more machines in datacenters you need, and the more geographically distributed data centers you need.

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 4:15 PM

            If it is HP consider it dead. HP is about as good with gaming as Intel is with graphics.

            • reply
              August 17, 2012 4:18 PM

              Also, I think you are wrong. Publishers and developers both like the concept of cloud gaming, it's the execution that's been lacking. Cloud gaming lowers the rate of piracy, lowers support costs, and makes the experience for PC game like consoles in that everyone has the same visual and audio fidelity.

              • reply
                August 17, 2012 4:23 PM

                Devs and Pubs like it because it will make everyone buy another copy of their game. If you wanted to play a game on OnLive and you owned it already you had to buy it again. If you bought a game from OnLive and you want to play it after they shut down you'll have to buy it again. And there's no price comparison - the price OnLive charges is the price the game is, period. Not like how Target could underbid Walmart on Diablo 3 if they wanted.

                But I disagree on your "everyone has the same visual quality and fidelity" bit - nothing could be further from the truth. The experience with OnLive varied wildly from user to user depending on things like how far they lived from an OnLive datacenter, whether their ISP is having a good day, whether or not their neighbors are downloading too much, etc. At least with a PC or a console you know why you're getting the fidelity you are (console users all get the same thing, PC users get better or worse depending on the quality of their PC). With OnLive it's a ton of variables out of your control. The only guaranteed fidelity is "shitty" and if you're lucky it gets better from there.

                • reply
                  August 17, 2012 4:39 PM

                  It also allows people to rent and for that rental revenue to eventually get to the dev unlike now. As for the fidelity, I said there ar still execution problems, doesn't mean they can't be worked out. You don't like the idea, that's pretty obvious, doesn't mean it's a bad idea though.

                  • reply
                    August 17, 2012 10:05 PM

                    Its always been a terrible idea and this is all just making it clearer

                    • reply
                      August 17, 2012 10:13 PM

                      I can't help but think that, even if the service doesn't shut down because of this, it's doomed before too much longer because the few people who might have had a non-hardcore interest in it will be scared off by this sort of unstableness.

                      • reply
                        August 18, 2012 12:04 AM

                        Yes, but you are obviously pretty biased against it.

                    • reply
                      August 18, 2012 12:03 AM

                      Except it's not. It's been sold, not shut down.

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 4:46 PM

            HP could probably use it for a VDI offering. Virtual Desktops for CAD workstations are pretty awful, and although nVidia's VGX should make it way better, you'd still have to have huge expensive servers. The latency that onLive had would be great, although the resolution might be lacking.

            • reply
              August 17, 2012 6:10 PM

              Shit, you're probably right. I remember OnLive was renting out Microsoft Office and shit to people. Either HP is going to buy them and turn them into an on-demand Citrix type thing or Microsoft will do the same.

              Actually it might not make much sense for Microsoft what with the Office 365 thing.

    • reply
      August 17, 2012 3:00 PM

      I like the idea but... we aren't ready for it.

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 4:04 PM

        Devil's Advocate: "not ready for it" isn't always a good excuse for a business failing.

        If I created a business that made energy fuel cells for personal hovercraft which don't exist yet my business would fail because no one would buy them. It doesn't mean I was just "ahead of my tine", it would mean I was stupid.

        These guys were trying to sell cloud gaming to a country whose ISP infrastructure sucks, is prone to bandwidth caps, and whose console users tend to not even put their systems online. OnLive wanted to let them play Crysis on a netbook with a 10" screen. It's a neat idea. It's not a good idea. And it's nothing to base a company on.

        Personally, I kinda think this may have been their plan all along. Dollars to donuts these guys have some patents on this stuff (they were working on it for "seven years", which may be the amount of time needed to get a patent approved). Maybe they really wanted to make a go of it with OnLive but maybe their plan has always been to patent something that might eventually happen one day and then cash out selling the patents to someone else.

        Of course to be fair I'm dancing on their grave here but there may be something awesome underway. They did a dog-and-pony up at Valve a while back, maybe they're shedding employees to go work there and maybe Steam Cloud's going to get an interesting new feature. That's an incarnation of OnLive that I might find interesting and useful.

    • reply
      August 17, 2012 4:09 PM

      good. i hope this shitty idea dies forever.

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 4:16 PM

        Why is it shitty? When it's done right it's actually pretty cool. Are you down on streaming video as well?

        • reply
          August 17, 2012 4:44 PM

          Streaming video is great because I don't have input into it. The latency for inputs and seeing the result of the input really isn't something they can do anything about and is why that sort of service won't be anywhere close to running something on my PC anytime soon.

          I'd love to see someone try to play Tribes via that service.

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 4:49 PM

            Doesn't mean the idea should be killed off.

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 5:12 PM

            actually.........all UI these days is shitty. remember back in the day when clicking a button meant you instantly got what you wanted? even the fastest browsing experience usually means at least 1-2 seconds of latency before your link clicking brings you what you want. when you factor in streaming video, buffering takes god knows how long. ugh

            UGH UGH UGH

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 5:14 PM

            Just because it wouldn't be great for Tribes doesn't mean it lacks applications completely

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 11:57 PM

            it is pretty clear to me that you and others bitching about it never even tried it...it worked pretty damn well.

        • reply
          August 17, 2012 4:48 PM

          Latency cannot be defeated due to physics

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 4:57 PM

            Perhaps, but not every game's positive play experience is dependent on <x ms latency.

            Even with QW there were amazing competitors having a great time with ~250ms latency. It's certainly more important in some genre's but less so in others.

            • reply
              August 17, 2012 10:40 PM

              quakeworld has local prediction code

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 5:21 PM

            and not all games are sun 100MS latency dependent

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 6:11 PM

            No, but distance reduces latency. If something like this really took off all they have to do is build more datacenters with big pipes and get them as close to users as possible. If you have a datacenter in your nearest big city with a round trip ping time of 10ms... that's gonna be pretty damn quick. I'm in the Boston area... I'm not exactly sure where the nearest datacenter for Onlive is but I have very little latency when I play. It's good enough so that I sometimes forget I'm playing this game on a remote blade somewhere.

            • reply
              August 17, 2012 10:41 PM

              building a datacenter in every city in the world is prohibitively, bankrupting expensive

              • reply
                August 18, 2012 7:51 PM

                I'm talking about in the long run if this became a big thing. It would obviously not make sense unless there was a lot of cash coming in to support it.

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 6:52 PM

            philotes, son

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 7:02 PM

            True, but the vast majority of latency isn't limited by physics. Eliminate the physics that isn't unavoidable, and the remaining 50ms or whatever will be less than what people deal with today.

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 8:29 PM

            So you never tried it? Because while it had its flaws it worked rather well actually.

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 9:04 PM

            [deleted]

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 4:24 PM

        Oh. Are you still using Outlook Express or Eudora, or do you use a Gmail / Hotmail / whatever webmail for most your email? Do you ever check you email on your phone?

        Think about that for a minute or two before you piss all over wishing the "shitty idea dies forever."

        • reply
          August 17, 2012 4:26 PM

          What are you on about?

          Are you one of those folks whose one and only reference for cloud computing working for consumers is email? Email, a function that required the Internet already anyway?

          I'd love to hear someone come up with a second example.

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 4:29 PM

            Really? Music, movies... surely I don't need to spell all this out?

            • reply
              August 17, 2012 6:09 PM

              Music: very recently this has changed, yes. Namely Amazon's Cloud Player. I'll grant you that. But otherwise you're just referring to buying files from a server or listening to Pandora, which isn't ideal since you don't have direct control over what gets played.

              Movies: Not sure what you mean here. Are you referring to Netflix instant streaming? Yes, that's nice, but they don't have much selection for old content holder reasons. Renting single-watch movies online or purchasing them? Renting's nice, if a bit pricey compared to renting a disc at Blockbuster. Purchasing them? On the PC it's a DRM nightmare and on consoles there are space issues.

              • reply
                August 17, 2012 6:26 PM

                Are you daft?

              • reply
                August 17, 2012 6:35 PM

                Banking, file storage, picture sharing, office apps, web apps/SaaS. Even telephony and some desktop computing.

                Forget for a moment the idiosyncrasies with OnLive as a company whatever they may be (pricing, content, licensing, etc). As a vision, concept, and idea it's brilliant, ahead of its time, and largely inevitable.

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 4:42 PM

        What? Why is it shitty? I think the technology is amazing.

        Some OnLive guys gave a presentation at my school I think 1.5 years ago and they showed off streaming Windows to a mobile device. They showed an iPad streaming Windows and running things like Photoshop, Premiere, AutoCAD, etc. with very low latency. It was really cool.

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 4:47 PM

        Agree 100%

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 5:14 PM

        [deleted]

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 5:17 PM

        I'm with you. Fuck onlive.

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 6:09 PM

        I tinkered with it a few weeks ago for the first time. Not a bad idea, but it feels like you are playing a game within a VM instance via VNC (I'm sure their architecture is something very different and much more complex than that, but it was the initial feeling I had). Played through the demo of FEAR 2. It played well as a military shooter, but all of the split second psychological bits were nothing but big blurry squares on the screen.

        In an ideal world these guys would be bought out by one of the 3rd party PC platforms, say Direct2Drive/GameFly, Impulse/GameStop, GOG or even Valve. If your hardware can't handle the software they switch you over to OnLive, otherwise you use the regular service.

      • reply
        August 17, 2012 7:11 PM

        It won't. It's inevitable.

        • reply
          August 17, 2012 10:11 PM

          I don't understand this belief that something like this is inevitable.

          Technology is supposed to be about making things better, cheaper, more accessible. In 1999 you had to spend thousands on a PC that could handle Quake 3. Today the $250 netbook can handle it with no sweat. Your $600 cell phone can run games that would make your PC squirm a few years ago.

          So I don't understand this idea that one day we'll just throw all of this out in favor of someone else running massive server farms and we'll just have screens that show video of it all. Instead of spending $600 on a good gaming PC or hell, $200 on a game console, spend $15 per month or whatever, indefinitely, to some service and have nothing to show for it should you stop paying? That just doesn't seem like it adds anything to the equation to me. Heck, running the OnLive client on a $500 iPad to avoid spending $200 on an Xbox just seems foolish to me.

          (note that my statements above are based on my understanding of OnLive pricing, which may not be accurate)

          • reply
            August 17, 2012 10:19 PM

            Having high end computers that spend most of their time wasting energy and potential is just not efficient. Elastic cloud services that can be sued for gaming, movies, business application, etc. is just fundamentally more efficient.

            Pricing is a silly argument. It's based on supply/demand - if you're willing to spend N dollars on gaming now there's no reason you'd be willing to spend 2N dollars just because it's in the cloud, which means over time prices will accommodate and reach the same level regardless of how you get the content. It could even be lower due to the efficiency increases (no need to buy a thousand dollar PC? Maybe spend more money on games... No need to chip boxes of plastic everywhere? Less overhead.)

            • reply
              August 17, 2012 10:26 PM

              The processing power still needs to come from somewhere. Who is going to maintain server clusters that can replace tens of millions of home PCs? There's a reason things like Folding@home exists because it's prohibitively expensive for single companies to run clusters with that kind of processing power.

              • reply
                August 17, 2012 10:28 PM

                Folding@home actually supports uncleanmonkey's argument that it's extremely inefficient to have most computers out there doing nothing most of the time

                • reply
                  August 17, 2012 10:38 PM

                  But it doesn't support the argument that the answer to the problem is to move to a bunch of clusters maintained by a few companies. Just consider the costs of running clusters with similar processing capabilities of 10 million mid-speced PCs. First there is the upfront cost of the hardware. We are talking billions of dollars alone there. Then there are operations costs, electricity, rack-space and network costs. Then you have to pay a team of people to run the things. Then you are responsible for replacing failed hardware and also responsible for upgrading the hardware as the games become more demanding. THEN someone needs to make a profit from all of this.

                  You think they'll be able to offer all of this at an affordable monthly rate and not go out of business? I'll just have to say good luck especially where there are more like 100 million people playing games on PCs.

              • reply
                August 17, 2012 10:50 PM

                E.g. Gaming happens at night, business computation happens during the day. Why have two sets of computers for both?

                An old PC might not be able to run the latest game, but it could maybe run 1000 instances of solitaire. Why not put it to use? Incrementally upgrade the server farms, rather than always upgrading every machine to run the most taxing application.

                • reply
                  August 17, 2012 11:08 PM

                  Or... buy a dedicated game machine (be it a console or PC) and be done with it.

                  Seriously, what you're describing there is akin to trying to pull a flatbed trailer by training a large flock of chickens on leashes to pull it. If you want talk about efforts and energies as if they're a single, overall resource, I think the efforts would be much better spent trying to improve graphical technology and further the art of game design and development, rather than taking what we know to already work and try to figure out ways to force it down a straw.

                  Just because something is a neat idea doesn't mean it's a good idea.

                  • reply
                    August 17, 2012 11:36 PM

                    So you spend hundreds of dollars per person and risky "console cycles" every several years, instead of like twenty bucks for a video receiver with an infinite (and gradual, low-risk) upgrade path that happens entirely on the server side (with economy of scale - buy, ship, and install in bulk). Moreover that hardware is basically useless most of the time. It doesn't make sense for every user to have an expensive machine and use it 5% of the time.

                    Or, you can have hardware that's much cheaper due to economy of scale. E.g. games are largely readonly data, so if you run 10 instances on the same beefy server, you can use less memory/power by just sharing all the readonly data across all instances.. Similarly if you run multiplayer in the same room rather than scattering it all over the place it'll be more efficient and open up new experiences (hundreds of players with extremely complicated network behavior). And then of course the fact that you don't need all these designer cases and consumer electronics crap stuff per person. No need for persistent storage for every single user for example. No miniaturized power supplies etc. One cooling solution for an entire room, not one per box that's overprovisioned to deal with environment variability (you control the room, you can get better tolerances for cooling). No need to send hardware back and forth to the end user when something fails. Oh, and because this is hardware with multiple uses, it can be several times cheaper - it gets used to almost 100% with non-realtime tasks to fill up spare cycles (e.g. crunching corporate data, etc.), so your local businesses would help make your gaming hardware cheaper simply by running their data crunching in the cloud.

                    The business world is already moving to this with Amazon, Google and Microsoft already having cloud computing services. It's inevitable that almost all heavy computing will happen in the cloud (which also means that local devices can be thin, light, and nigh-on indestructible).

                  • reply
                    August 17, 2012 11:51 PM

                    Let's just reason through it step by step, maybe you'll see the benefits.

                    Imagine this. Next console is released. But when you buy it, you don't actually get the console yourself, you get just the video receiver and controller, and your console is put in a server near you. So it's basically the same, except your console is put somewhere else and you only connect to it via the streaming service. Cost to the manufacturer is now slightly higher due to the streaming stuff, which means so far they've lost money by doing this.

                    Now, get rid of all the "consumer hardware" crap from the console. The case. The quiet fans and complicated thermal control and stick it in a temperature controlled container somewhere. Now you've probably already made back more than the money you spent on the extra streaming stuff.

                    Next, put more than one GPU/CPU on each machine. So each machine is basically like 10 consoles, but all the "infrastructure" bits (memory, storage, networking, power supply, etc.) is shared. More money saved.

                    Now, a few percent of these consoles will break, and you'd normally have to pay for shipping and support calls relating to this. All those costs are essentially nil now, because you can just swap people over to another console when it happens, and replace them "in bulk" at your own leisure.

                    So now you're really saving money.

                    Next, overprovision the consoles. Most consoles are probably only used 5% of the time, at peak (new games coming out) maybe it's 30% utilization. So let's go safe and say that you have half a box for each customer. Now you're rolling in dough.

                    Next, use any spare cycles (during non-peak) to do website and business number crunching for extra revenue.

                    Next cycle, don't actually upgrade anything at all, just give each customer a larger slice of each machine, and incrementally put in beefier machines.

                    • reply
                      August 17, 2012 11:56 PM

                      Dude we get the idea from the consumer perspective. But it's not going to work from the provider perspective. No company is going to be able to afford to run this service and provide it at a reasonable rate. That is why we aren't going to see heavy computing move to the cloud.

                      • reply
                        August 18, 2012 12:00 AM

                        Dude, it's already happening. Tons of big companies doing it. One of which also makes consoles (Microsoft).

                        • reply
                          August 18, 2012 12:02 AM

                          Not for heavy computing. Cloud services serve lightweight computing where servers can provide the resources needed for thousands of clients at once. This isn't going to happen with gaming. Even the most powerful servers are going to be able to serve maybe a handful of clients at once and they need to be far more powerful machines.

                          There is a HUGE computational difference between processing a few spreadsheets for a business and processing a few instances of Crysis 2.

                          • reply
                            August 18, 2012 1:23 AM

                            That's just a question of scaling. Everyone is still building out their services. Once GPU/Compute converges a bit more, you could run single chip CPU/GPUs with unified memory. Then that just scales naturally to manycore, and multi-socket solutions. If you're a big company who can buy a million servers, and you don't really care too much about noise, form factor, appearance etc., you can pretty much do what you want.

                            OnLive, while they didn't have the resources to wait for the right technology window, has proven that it's feasible.

                            • reply
                              August 18, 2012 6:08 AM

                              But the areas in which this is already happening don't involve things like trying to serve HD video in perfect real time with next-to-zero latency from an input device on the client side. If you have to wait a few seconds for Azure to do your thing, no big deal. When you start a Netflix movie and you wait a few seconds for it to buffer, no big deal. If you have to wait even half a second for your video game action to register, you're dead.

                              And by the time today's technology can comfortably fit on a chip (as in, the amount of CPU/GPU technology I bought for $1500 earlier this month in a big case can fit on an inexpensive chip), the consumer level technology wil be way past that. It won't matter that you've figured out how to push Unreal Engine 3 level graphics through the pipe when the market is using Unreal Engine 7 level graphics. Maybe I'm wrong and at some point graphics technology will level off but I don't see this as a problem that you can catch up to. That's the big problem I have with cloud gaming - it encourages the gaming world to slow down. It can potentially influence the way games are made (don't make that explosion too intense, it won't stream well). It's poison to the valcan_s's of the world. And for less graphically intense games it seems pointless (you can run Peggle and Solitare fine on literally anything, why run them in the cloud at all?)

                              But anyway, OnLive isn't really dead yet, cloud gaming is still unproven one way or another, and I've probably made it clear what my opinions are in the dozens of posts I've made here so I'll drop it now.

                              • reply
                                August 18, 2012 11:58 AM

                                But low latency streaming has already been proved possible at the cost of like a ten dollar chip. OnLive shows this.

                                I don't get what the problem is here. It's obviously, provably, feasible to build 50 million mid-range computers and ship them out to people (that's what consoles are), but somehow shipping them to data centers instead is unfathomable?

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                                  August 18, 2012 1:23 PM

                                  Cloud based gaming is never going to truly solve the latency problem. They can hide it through interpolation and other algorithms but it will never be as smooth or accurate. I am sure that certain games that don't require precise aiming or twitch or response will be fine.

                                  Processing power has never been the problem. The real problem is how the internet is setup and the physical distances. In the long run because of bandwidth caps/overages it might actually end up costing users more to play their games.

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        August 17, 2012 8:09 PM

        It has its uses. Writing it off completely is ignorant.

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          August 17, 2012 8:31 PM

          Agreed. It's terrible for any FPS or twitch action game, but it could work well for games like Civilization, Shogun 2, The Walking Dead, etc.

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            August 17, 2012 8:54 PM

            With reasonably nearby servers, ping times can be like 20ms. Most games today have 100+ms, even the best ones tend to be around 50ms. Most of that latency is avoidable (even through software, but new display protocols could help too).


            The point is, if we have unavoidable 20ms latency due to network traffic, we have plenty of avoidable latency to eliminate in order to compensate and end up with the same amount of latency that we have now (or better). Any game you like now, could work in the cloud in a few years.

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            August 17, 2012 9:14 PM

            For what it's worth, I didn't like it much when I tried it for the FTL demo a while back. Just the delay in mouse input was annoying enough to leave me uninterested in trying the service again.

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        August 17, 2012 8:29 PM

        Wow I'm surprised people actually find Onlive to be a good idea. Guess we didn't learn anything with Diablo 3? The last thing I want is all of my games tied to an online service that depends on perfect network health to actually work.

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          August 17, 2012 8:35 PM

          It's perfect for demos and renting.

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          August 17, 2012 8:49 PM

          It didn't depend on perfect network health and it generally worked pretty well. It's definitely too early for it to really get big, but it demonstrated the possibility beautifully.

          Also, you should probably get used to more and more things being delivered as services over the internet or you're going to be really disappointed in the rest of the future.

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          August 17, 2012 9:11 PM

          So you don't own any Steam games?

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          August 17, 2012 9:34 PM

          Onlive provided benefits requiring internet access, whereas single player Diablo 3 gained very little by requiring an internet connection.

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            August 17, 2012 10:08 PM

            Gained very little? They were able to guarantee the legitimacy of items by making it unhackable.

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              August 17, 2012 10:31 PM

              If you're playing single player this doesn't really affect you though.

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              August 18, 2012 12:00 AM

              I'm comfortable calling that "extremely little".

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              August 18, 2012 1:05 AM

              Haha fanboy much? They've already hacked it several times.

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          August 17, 2012 11:56 PM

          It's acceptable when the price is right and you know what you're getting into from the start. No one complains that Netflix or Hulu requires an internet connection and you're not interacting with anyone when you're watching a show or movie. They made some mistakes in the past by trying to charge full retail price for the games which I'd certainly agree is flat out stupid but from what I gather, prices are more reasonable now.

          I think it's a fantastic compromise for people who don't want to be on the standard PC upgrade cycle but still want to game on their PC. It stretches out the lifespan of the hardware, gives people instant access to games, and their spectating feature is great, even though twitch.tv provides something similar and probably with better content.

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        August 18, 2012 12:09 AM

        The market has decided. Its garbage. Cute on paper. Worthless in practice. Indont want more latncy in my games. I want perfection. I pay for perfection. Not accessibility

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        August 18, 2012 11:13 AM

        Because downloading a 7 GB demo, waiting forever for it to install and use up 10 GB of space, then play it for 30 minutes and delete it after realizing it's not something you want to play, leaving behind a mess in your registory, when you could try it out on OnLive harmlessly instead, is not a shitty idea.

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          August 18, 2012 1:19 PM

          And stream 25GB worth of data

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            August 18, 2012 10:08 PM

            Streaming 25 GB in half an hour would need a 113 Mbps internet connection. Good luck with that.

            In reality, OnLive uses somewhere between 3-5 Mbps, so you'd use 1 GB per 30 minutes.

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              August 18, 2012 10:35 PM

              So if I played Skyrim for five hours I'd have downloaded more data than if I just had it on my hard drive and played it for ten.

              Sounds like a great idea.

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                August 19, 2012 8:00 AM

                Clearly I was talking about playing your favourite game for 10 hours on OnLive in my post to which you replied with the 25 GB comment, and not a random game demo which you're not sure you will like for 30 minutes.

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                  August 19, 2012 8:12 AM

                  I'll agree with you that something like OnLive makes sense for demos.

                  For actual games (i.e., you've decided you like the games and want to purchase them), I disagree.

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      August 17, 2012 4:44 PM

      That's a shame because it seems like a good idea. I think it might be because consumer bandwidth just isn't high enough to have a quality experience with OnLive. I've tried a few games and it played alright but looked like I was watching a shitty 480p youtube video.

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      August 17, 2012 4:48 PM

      give it another 10(?) years and this idea will work

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      August 17, 2012 4:57 PM

      Looks like the initial report was spot-on. We've updated our story, but here's the summary: OnLive Inc has been dismantled, its assets sold to a new company that is continuing to maintain the service.

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        August 17, 2012 4:59 PM

        The intrigue (and scoop oppty) now is just who that interested party/new company is.

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        August 17, 2012 7:58 PM

        How is this different from "someone bought the company"?

        I mean, you fire everyone and then sell the company to someone who is going to re-hire most people. It sounds like they're accomplishing a basic sale in an unnecessarily complicated way. Anyone know why?

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        August 17, 2012 8:03 PM

        I seem to recall some discussion in the early days of OnLive that this was their plan all along - to get sold to some bigger company.

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          August 17, 2012 8:21 PM

          I don't think they ever explicitly stated that, it was just speculation that this was perhaps their business plan since their original plan didn't make sense - the amount of money in infrastructure needed to effectively pull this off didn't seem to scale with how much they were charging. Ergo, their business plan may have been to be bought by a bigger fish.

          Of course, being bought by a bigger company is pretty much a valid path for many businesses.

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      August 17, 2012 5:19 PM

      I was hoping to test this out with google fiber sometime in the next year or two =/

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      August 18, 2012 7:19 AM

      The service was probably possible today but the realities of the internet didn't really make it economical or desirable. You had to contend with the latency issue which there is no way to complete solve unless there is some breakthrough in physics. Photons and Electrons can only travel so fast. ISP bandwidth caps and overages basically made this dead on arrival in a lot regions.

      You have to feel bad for any one loosing their jobs in a economy like this. You have to feel bad also for the early adopters that will probably lose access to the content they paid for one the service. Its pretty much a lose lose all around .

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        August 18, 2012 8:28 AM

        Not to be heartless, but you can only feel so bad for them depending on what their employment status was.

        If they were regular full-time employees then yeah, it sucks.

        However, I'd be willing to be that some or all of the employees were working for sweat equity, as in they were taking a lower than normal or even average salary in exchange for stock options.

        In that case then yeah I feel sorry for them since it sounds like what OnLive did was a complete dick move designed to rob them of their stock options and give them nothing while OnLive cashes out.

        But on the other hand, the other edge of the sweat equity sword is that you're taking a gamble. You're working for less than you're worth based on the premise that maybe one day you'll be able to cash out, like people did at Microsoft and Google. But you also have to know that it might never happen - the company goes under and then you've got nothing, money-wise (you still have the experience, the job on your resume, etc.).

        Those are the ones I don't feel too sorry for, any more than pity on someone who lost money in Las Vegas. You knew the risks going in.

        But since at least one report says that most of the employees are going to be re-hired for OnLive Mark 2 or whatever hopefully they'll be alright.

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      August 18, 2012 11:10 AM

      Nooo... :( OnLive...

    • reply
      August 18, 2012 6:49 PM

      What was it even for? A PC gaming service for poor people? I thought that's what consoles were for.

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