Remembering OnLive – One Year Later
OnLive was a revolutionary technology, that provided cloud video gaming services to anyone, on any device. Because OnLive streamed all of your games over a broadband internet connection, gamers were able to play even the most graphically demanding games, on pretty much any computer. If your computer was capable of streaming 720p HD video, you could also play every single game available on OnLive’s On Demand service. Take, for instance, my Centrino powered laptop from 2007, running an OEM copy of Windows Vista Home Premium. With 2GB of RAM, and a dual core processor with a speed of 1.66GHz, it couldn’t even play the most basic of 3D games, and even struggled to keep up with 2D pixel-art games. But OnLive changed that, and allowed for me to turn my very low powered Centrino laptop, into a capable cloud gaming computer. With OnLive, I was playing Just Cause 2 at near maximum settings, running at 720p resolution. OnLive even utilized some DirectX 10 elements, which only furthered my impression of the service.
To say that this was something truly revolutionary, would be one hell of an understatement. OnLive quite literally changed the very face of the game industry, by introducing cloud technology that some thought was absolutely impossible. No, seriously; OnLive did the impossible. Though, for me personally, OnLive represented more than just a revolutionary service. They were the underdogs of the industry, and sort of just appeared out of nowhere.
For a company that was founded in 2003, it’s damn near miraculous that absolutely no information prior to their 2009 unveiling was leaked to the public. They called this their period of stealth development, which is again, one hell of an understatement. After they stole the floor at E3 2009, they quickly became the talk of the industry. For me, it was more than just the potential implications of what their technology could accomplish. I loved everything about OnLive, and what they represented as an underdog.
They appeared out of nowhere, with technology that no other company, let alone video game companies, could replicate. They had the potential to dominate the entire industry, leaving Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Valve, completely outdated and irrelevant. They could do anything with this technology, and challenge everyone at their own game. They were the first gaming console without the need of singular or proprietary hardware. They were the first service to offer games across all devices, including phones, tablets, televisions, and computers. Everything was connected, and all of your games went with you, instantly, and with no downloads or delays. You just sign in, and click play.
They had everything going for them, at least at the start. They had technology capable of revolutionizing the video game industry, and combining everyone together into one essential platform. They could have easily become the only gaming platform, beating out rivals such as PlayStation and Xbox, and to a lesser extent, even Steam. With the proper marketing, and leadership, OnLive could have become the largest video game platform this industry has ever seen.
Unfortunately, that’s where OnLive fell flat. You see, while the technology was top of the line, and the capabilities of the service were virtually limitless, OnLive as a company was poorly managed. They never quite capitalized on their potential, and seemed to operate with a very noncompetitive mindset. They never really pushed their services, or launch any major marketing campaigns. They kept making empty promises, and never delivered on them. They stopped responding to their community of loyal customers, and pushed others aside for their own secretive agendas. After a year of empty promises, and a very limited number of new game releases, they filed for bankruptcy, only to be bought out by Lauder Partners, who are essentially investors with zero experience with managing technology companies directly. They then formed a new company called OL2, and drastically changed the OnLive service for the worse. They removed everything that made the service so valuable and revolutionary, and turned it into something generic, and unmemorable.
OnLive suffered a slow death, caused by very bad business decisions, and lack of vision. I accurately predicted the fall of OnLive in March of 2014, and almost exactly one year later, OnLive made it official. On April 2nd 2015, OnLive announced that they had sold their assets to Sony, and would shut down by the end of the month.
This article is really just a tribute to what OnLive could have become, if it were managed differently. While gaming has changed quite a bit in the last six years, one thing remains certain; the technology that OnLive pioneered is the future of gaming, even though OnLive itself is not.
If you’re reading this article, and if you were a past OnLive employee, user, or fan, never forget just what OnLive meant to us, not only as gamers, but as pioneers of new technology. Remember the BragClips, the endless Jeers and Cheers, and most of all, remember all of the fun times you had while playing and socializing with the OnLive community. Whether that was through OnLive Fan Forums, the OnLive Community forums, or OnLive itself; never forget.