Attributed to a Sony acquisition of patents likely related to streaming video games, the first major company that attempted to deliver live, playable streams of popular games is shutting down at the end of the month. OnLive launched the company’s streaming service approximately six years ago, but pivoted the business model a handful of times unsuccessfully in an attempt to gain users and generate revenue.
On the software side, OnLive attempted to attract users with a pay-per-game model as well as a $15-per-month subscription model that gave gamers access to streaming versions of games they already owned, specifically to play on devices like tablets and inexpensive laptops. On the hardware side, OnLive attempted to launch a $100 mini-console during 2010. Unfortunately, that piece of hardware never caught on with gaming audiences due to video quality issues as well as latency problems.
Detailing the end of OnLive on the company’s site, a representative wrote “After five years of uninterrupted service, the OnLive Game Service will be coming to an end. Sony is acquiring important parts of OnLive, and their plans don’t include a continuation of the game service in its current form. Your service should continue uninterrupted until April 30, 2015. No further subscription fees will be charged, and you can continue to play all of your games until that date.”
For all existing subscribers, all stored credit data will be deleted at the end of the month as well as achievement data and saved games. No refunds will be issues on game purchases or subscriptions. Users that purchased hardware on or after February 1, 2015 can get a refund on purchased hardware by contacting the email posted on the FAQ page related to the closure.
Regarding the Sony acquisition, the patents are likely related to Sony’s PlayStation Now cloud-gaming service. Often dubbed Netflix for games, PlayStation 4 owners can pay $20 a month for PlayStation Now to stream a large library of PlayStation 3 games.