Report: OnLive's former CEO pulled the plug on game deals

Former OnLive employees describe former CEO Steve Perlman as hostile, refusing to work with publishers that could have greatly expanded the service's game offerings.


Why did OnLive implode over a week ago? It simply wasn't making any money. Although the service had attracted millions of users, very few actually bothered to buy content on the service. At most, there were 1600 concurrent users at any given time, making OnLive's thousands of servers a money-burning waste.

As a service, OnLive had many hurdles to overcome. In addition to steep bandwidth requirements, it simply didn't offer a very attractive library. And some former employees blame former CEO Steve Perlman for scaring off potential partners.

While the service managed to land a few high-profile games, it was missing support from heavy-hitters like Electronic Arts, Activision, Bethesda, and Valve. It's true that two of these companies have rival services (Origin and Steam), but partnerships with these publishers were possible, according to comments made to The Verge.

For example, EA was ready to be a day-one partner. Both Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins were ready to launch on the service. However, when Perlman found out that EA had also made an agreement with rival streaming company Gaikai, "he went ballistic." EA's games were pulled from OnLive's library before they could even launch--an odd move, considering Gaikai didn't offer full games via the web.

The Witcher 2 is another example of a game that was being readied for OnLive, until Perlman "shot down" the game for having an agreement for a Gaikai-powered web demo. According to the report, "Perlman also allegedly scared Valve off with a broad pitch when the company merely wanted to test the waters, and a source told us that negotiations with Bethesda failed because OnLive simply wasn't willing or able to pay a fee to offset the onboarding costs of their games."

In light of Perlman's hostile attitude, perhaps it's unsurprising that the newly revived company no longer has Perlman as CEO. In a press release, the company said Perlman is "departing to work on his myriad of other projects." In his stead is Charlie Jablonski, the former head of OnLive operations, whose goal will be to "execute against longer-term projects with our breakthrough technology."

Andrew Yoon was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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  • reply
    August 28, 2012 4:00 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Report: OnLive's former CEO pulled the plug on game deals.

    Former OnLive employees describe former CEO Steve Perlman as hostile, refusing to work with publishers that could have greatly expanded the service's game offerings.

    • reply
      August 28, 2012 4:20 PM

      Huh. I met him once, and he seemed.. well, exec-ish. Polite but not hugely informed on the realities of the game industry. If this really was the cause of Onlive's problems, it's an interesting revelation.

    • reply
      August 28, 2012 4:23 PM

      How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck couldn't chuck wood....

    • reply
      August 28, 2012 7:06 PM

      They really need to jettison that CEO. You can't be choosey about the partnerships like that until you are in a much better position to do so. You can't force exclusive arrangements or act like the corporate equivalent of a 1st grader. They should have made it easy for companies to get their games on the service.

      I am assuming this is just part of the mismanagement that brought down the company.

    • reply
      August 28, 2012 8:12 PM

      Too bad about those launch day titles. Losing EA and Crytek were the things that probably stopped more people from trying out the service. I knew something was up when they showed what they could do with OnLive desktop, Netflix and iPad/iPhone support and then didn't ship or mention it for a year... too bad. I really enjoy this service and hate seeing M$ pick up a bunch of employees for pennies on the dollar.

    • reply
      August 28, 2012 8:31 PM

      So you want to run a gaming service and you decide to piss off and shun all of the most important game creators.


      • reply
        August 29, 2012 6:40 AM

        Looks like the technology wasn't the hardest thing about OnLive after all.

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