In 2011, OnLive became one of the first major players in the cloud streaming market. The company launched the OnLive Game Service which let users stream a range of games to their devices for $14.95 a month, though that subscription fee was axed just four months later. OnLive also launched a microconsole called the Microconsole TV Adapter which supported keyboards, computer mice, Bluetooth headsets and the OnLive Wireless Controller.
But, despite the initial hype, OnLive received mixed critical reception. Critics had several issues with OnLive including input lag, poor visual quality (which reportedly varied from game to game) and there was also a lack of games to play as software had to be modified before it could work with the service. As a result, OnLive filed for bankruptcy in 2012, let many staff members go and was turned into a different company called OL2.
Under OL2, all of OnLive’s existing services were continued and they also introduced a service called CloudLift. CloudLift worked with users’ existing Steam libraries and let them stream their Steam games to any device with a browser for $14.95 a month. However, this price was soon halved three months later when players argued that it was too expensive.
Ultimately, it was a combination of these things which have led OnLive to be sold to Sony. In a blog post announcing the sale, the company also explained that it was becoming too expensive to acquire new users, many gamers already thought that OnLive was “defunct” and that other companies that could have purchased them said that the cloud gaming “hype cycle” was running its course.
As a result of the sale, all of OnLive’s services will be shut down on April 30, 2015. All user data including “game save data, achievements, and credit card data” will be deleted unless game save data and achievements are on CloudLift, and so they’ll be saved on Steam instead.
Refunds are available for players who bought OnLive controllers or consoles, but only if they bought them after February 1, 2015. There will be no refunds for people who bought PC-only Steam games “under the assumption” that OnLive would allow them to play those games on their Mac computers. It also doesn’t help matters that OnLive’s hardware doesn’t work with any other platforms and the company will have “extremely limited coverage for customer service over the next 30 days,” so the FAQ may be a user’s best bet if they want answers.
Sony, on the other hand, will be able to use its newly acquired IP and assets (which includes 144 patents) to help improve the infrastructure of their PlayStation Now game streaming service and its PlayStation Vue TV streaming service as well. It’s also beneficial as the company’s streaming services will have one less rival to compete with after Sony bought game streaming platform Gaikai in 2012 for $380 million, before using it to build PS Now.
Do you think this is a smart move from Sony? Are you sad to see OnLive get shut down for good?