When it comes to competition, sometimes the best form of competition is no competition. Well, that's how Sony sees the digital streaming landscape because they bought out OnLive just to shut it down, giving PlayStation Now one less competitor to worry about.
Game Informer picked up the news from a Facebook post on the OnLive page where they explained that the service would be shutting down and that means gamers will lose access to the games they purchased on the cloud service. Part of the statement reads...
“It is with great sadness that we must bring the OnLive Game Service to a close. 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.”
OnLive came onto the scene back in 2009, and has slowly struggled to stay relevant ever since. It offered gamers the opportunity to stream games through the cloud using a micro-console, through PC or even mobile devices. However, after April 30th, all the games, credit card data, achievements, and save games will be wiped and deleted for good. If you bought a game for Steam through OnLive, that game will still be available in your Steam library. If you only purchased goods through OnLive and not for Steam, well then you're completely out of luck and you lose absolutely everything.
A lot of gamers have been commenting about this event and see this as a disgusting move in gaming culture. What it does is effectively erase the history of games from whatever was on the cloud service. They're gone for good. Thankfully, most of OnLive's titles were multiplatform games, so gamers are able to relive and replay these games from other devices and services. But the very fact that all the money anyone dumped into OnLive will be rendered moot is a huge slap in the face and marks cloud gaming as one of the most anti-consumer services out there, since you're basically just paying to rent games for as long as the service is in function. After that? It's kaput, and whatever you invested is rendered null.
Salvatore James Rizzo Junior comments about this very thing on the Facebook post of OnLive, mentioning...
“So the hundreds of dollars I spent are gone? Cool. I was hoping that would happen.”
That's right, whatever you put into OnLive... after April 30th it's gone. This is one of the things that made a lot of people afraid about the Xbox One's original DRM services, since the games would have been tied to an online authentication service to play. If the service had gone down then you could no longer access your games. On the upside, Microsoft was convinced to abandon this setup and stick with the more traditional method of allowing gamers to play offline.
Sony already offers offline play on the PlayStation 4, but they're continuing to ramp up their own streaming service known as PlayStation Now. It's a cloud service that enables gamers to play a wide variety of PlayStation titles from different generations. Of course, this now begs the question – how long will PlayStation Now be in operation before the doors shut and gamers are left out in the cold? While services like PlayStation Home were always expected to have a limited lifespan, is PlayStation Now expected to also have a limited lifespan as well?
KimCheeLover commented about this model on the Game Informer article, noting...
“Well no one ever saw this coming. This shows a major downside to this model; whatever you "purchase" you are really just renting. But for better and worse this is the future. A thin client "console" and a subscription to access games and other content.”
Scary times, really. This also brings up questions about whether or not the Nintendo NX will follow this model. More than anything, with Sony ramping up the PlayStation Now service, and with OnLive biting the dust after the buyout, what do gamers feel about the future of cloud gaming and only renting games instead of buying them? And more importantly, what will this mean for the historical value of games?