OnLive Shutting Down Shows The Dangers Of Cloud Gaming

By now most people have heard about Sony acquiring the patents for OnLive after buying the company out. It’s been big news within the core gaming news spectrum after IGN covered the story. However, part of the process of acquiring the patents included shutting down OnLive… and that means all the games, save data, achievements and user content is being wiped for good. Every cent you poured into OnLive is rendered worthless. So what does this tell us about cloud gaming?

Well, first up, the post over on Facebook from OnLive is the one that really deals a mean blow to the prospect of any sort of viable future for cloud gaming, given that here’s what they had to say to OnLive customers about the shutdown following Sony’s acquisition….

“After April 30, 2015, our data centers will shut down and the service will be offline. All accounts will be closed, and all data deleted including game save data, achievements, and credit card data will be deleted. If you purchased a Steam game from OnLive, that game will still be available on Steam. No refunds will be available for any game purchases, hardware purchases, or subscriptions.”

So essentially, if you didn’t buy a game from OnLive for Steam, you are 110% screwed.

So what about everybody who put money into OnLive’s micro-console that enabled them to play games on the cloud without a computer or mobile device? Well, those poor saps are screwed, too. Not only that, but the micro-console becomes nothing more than a glorified paperweight.

Next Powerup points to a support page over on the OnLive page where they explain exactly what becomes of those OnLive micro-consoles that people paid $100 for…

“OnLive’s hardware does not work with any other platforms. No refunds are available for hardware purchases, unless it was purchased on or after February 1, 2015. If you purchased hardware on or after February 1, 2015, your purchase has been refunded and an email was sent to notify you.”

If you purchased anything before February 1st, you’re basically screwed. No refunds for you.

After April 30th everything falls in under. Your games, your achievements, your saved data… everything.

While Sony will undoubtedly use the patents to help improve PlayStation Now, the biggest problem is that what happens when PlayStation Now eventually has to bite the dust?

This is also a partial sign of what gamers would have had to deal with had Microsoft had gone through with the Xbox One’s 24-hour check-in with the Azure network – your games would have been tied to the cloud.


For games that rely on the cloud – such as Crackdown, due out for the Xbox One – when the network eventually goes down you lose whatever functionality is tied to that online service.

It’s a scary time for gaming not because of cloud gaming on its own, but how cloud gaming spites the historical value of video games. What happens to exclusive titles with features attached to the cloud? What happens to exclusive titles only available through the cloud? These games eventually become extinct. Worse yet is that there doesn’t appear to be anyway to replicate cloud-based games for private, offline use… unless, of course, the IP holder decides to dump the code for public use.

We already see some popular titles that have been cut out of the history books when the servers go down, games like Tabula Rasa or City of Heroes gamers are left with a vacant spot in the internet where these games used to be. As noted on forums and community threads, the only option is to either completely reverse engineer the game based on the available data, or to let it fade away into the digital ether of time.

The real question is will gamers stand by and support the next efforts of cloud-based rental services and will gamers support a console that relies entirely on cloud streaming to provide content? While movie goers and television buffs don’t seem to mind services like Netflix or Hulu, there’s still the alternative of getting the programs or content on Blu-Ray. Will publishers and console manufacturers offer the same alternative or will gamers be left to their own devices to preserve whatever games are tied to the cloud?


Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Contact.

13 thoughts on “OnLive Shutting Down Shows The Dangers Of Cloud Gaming

  1. Actually, OnLive shutting down shows that most of us were right about it from the beginning, and common sense once again prevails…

  2. Question. What happens if Steam ends?
    Question. How difficult is it to just transfer data to new servers?

    1. Technically, with Steam, you can download and backup your games to discs, USB sticks or a separate hard drive. So for Steam users, if they want a hard copy of their games they can easily download and store them on separate devices… if they want.

      1. Thanks
        I don’t use cloud storage, but I was wondering what my options were if I did in the near future. Even though Steam is currently dominant (as far as I know) there is no gaurantee it will last long term.

      2. I think you’re confusing terms. Cloud Storage is things like Google Drive, DropBox, Box, OneDrive, etc…

        I mean Steam does have a small cloud storage for save files, a few screenshots and maybe a video captured from games but that is about it.

        Steam is a digital distributor of games. If you’re looking for alternatives to Steam, there really isn’t many. EA’s Origin, Ubisofts U-Play, Good Old Games (GOG), Desura. Most other retailers just sell Steam Keys…

      3. Sorry, I’m not much of a techie. It’s good that steam doesn’t use the cloud much.

  3. Its a good thing Sony haven’t been hyping up power of da cloud (while while actually showing NO power of the cloud) since May 2013. Otherwise, they would be in REAL danger then wouldn’t they? 🙂
    Unfortunately One of the game console manufacturers HAS been doing that since way back then, while letting their service still go down in Xmas 2014. Thank goodness that “danger” forced DRM thing never happened or there would have been a lot of people unable to play even offline games over the holidays. I think that is still a much bigger REAL issue than the one article is mere speculating.
    You had to buy Onlive to even get started. Ask ANY group of ten people what Onlive ism who are all mixed casual or even hardcore gamers. When you get nothing but “what is Onlive?” from every person there, THAT is why Onlive failed.

  4. I’m saddened to see them go, but am not surprised. What I am surprised by is that MS didn’t try to buy them out to compete with Sony’s version. MS must have something in the works inhouse, but I am sure these patents and stuff would have helped. Now it “looks” like only Sony has any plans in this area since MS has been pretty mum on their end.

  5. Unfortunately most people are basing the “You will lose everything” on the old Playpass model that the original Onlive had,and yes i personally will lose numerous games(thankfully those games i lose are up to 3-4 years old and can be picked up these days on numerous formats for a couple of pounds instead of tens of them),but these legacy playpass titles i fully expected to lose over a year ago when the original company went into ABC and was bought out,and was surprised when the new company/owners allowed us to keep them on the new Onlive,thankfully everything i have bought on the service in the past year or so(all 45 games) used the Cloudlift system so used steam to run them,all those games are safely in my Steam Library,and out of the 45 probably only one of them wouldn’t run on my current PC,so its not quite as doom and gloom as it seems

    1. That’s cool that you got to keep your games. Did you have a choice in moving them from Cloudlift after the buyout or did they automatically move the games over?

      1. The ones that I bought before the buyout a few years ago remained playpasses, so on the 30th they will disappear forever,my Cloudlift titles are what I purchased after the buyout by OL2,as I suspect that selling on the service was always on their agenda, so creating a service that used Steam meant that they could continue to sell games but when the time came that a buyer bought them, those that bought cloudlift titles still had them in their steam libraries

  6. I’ve never liked how MMOs store my data online. This is the exact reason. The “cloud” can be useful in some situations (eg. where local data is lost) but it’s ridiculous to push it as a primary means of storage.

    I guess it’s appealing to people who fail at controlling their own property and prefer others to handle it for them. Personally, I prefer to have control over my own stuff. I can at least handle that much responsibility.

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