SL Go discontinued as OnLive sells patents

Even ideas around offering Sl Go as a Premium offering, while simple in concept, are potentially less-than-simple to implementUpdate, Friday, April 3rd: An on-line petition has been started to try to persuade Sony to keep SL Go running as a service.  In all honesty, the likelihood of this succeeding is less than slim, but if you would like to add your name to the petition, it can be found here.

On Thursday, April 2nd, it was announced that the SL Go streaming service supplied by OnLive has been discontinued.

The move is part of a wider shut-down of services that will take place on Thursday, April 30th, following a decision by the company to sell its portfolio of patents to Sony Computer Entertainment America.

An official announcement on OnLive’s SL Go website reads in full:

It is with great sadness we must announce that OnLive’s SL Go service will be coming to an end. Sony is acquiring important parts of OnLive, and their plans don’t include a continuation of the SL Go service. However, your service should continue uninterrupted until April 30, 2015. No further subscription fees will be charged, and you can continue to enjoy SL Go on all of your devices until that date.

In our year of SL Go service, we have become quite close to the Second Life® community. Thanks to your patronage and constructive feedback, SL Go became one of OnLive’s most successful services. We know how important SL Go is for many of you, and it saddens us to bring the service to a close. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to you for being a part of “SL Go by OnLive” and wish you all the best.

With warmest regards,

Everyone at OnLive

SL Go provided a means to access Second Life through Android devices, followed by the iPad - something SL users had been hoping to see for years
SL Go provided a means to access Second Life through Android devices, followed by the iPad – something SL users had been hoping to see for years

In a personal address sent out to those with whom he’s been in contact with over the course of the last year or more, OnLive’s Product Manager for SL Go Dennis Harper – someone whom I’ve come to regard as a friend both in-world and through our communications outside of the platform – said:

To my good friends and partners in Second Life,

 It breaks my heart to tell you that OnLive (OL2, Inc) has been acquired and will be closing down the game service, including SL Go.  The official press release is attached.

 SL Go Island will continue to exist for a while, but we have removed the Pay with L$ feature.

 The OnLive and SL Go services will continue to operate in full capacity until April 30.  All services will be free to anyone who has or creates an account.  All prices for the service have been set to $0.00, including SL Go.

 On a personal note; you all have been so supportive of SL Go.  You have my heartfelt thanks for all you have done.  I have made some good friends in SL and it greatly saddens me that this project is ending.  You all have accepted us n00bs into your community and mentored us on what Second Life really is.  I have learned so much!  My sincere thanks to all of you.

This is and unfortunate end, not just for SL Go, but also for everyone at OnLive, a company which had come through a lot to provide a unique on-line gaming service and which has tried to enter a very unique environment with SL Go, and has done so by providing a very successful approach to providing access to Second Life (and OpenSim) to people while on the move through their delivery to Android and iPad devices, and to those using older, lower-specification hardware.

SL Go has also allowed users to enjoy the full richness of Second Life on relatively low-end machines. Following a recent severe hardware failure on my primary PC, SL Go became my primary means of accessing SL for some 2 weeks while the "main" machine was repaired; above, I'm running it on a humble 2 GB win 7/32 Asus PC EE 1201N
SL Go has also allowed users to enjoy the full richness of Second Life on relatively low-end machines. Following a recent severe hardware failure on my primary PC, SL Go became my primary means of accessing SL for some 2 weeks while the “main” machine was repaired; above, I’m running it on a humble 2 GB win 7/32 Asus PC EE 1201N

I’ve been fortunate enough to be somewhat closely involved in SL Go, initially being offered the opportunity to help beta the product, and then in helping to report on and promote the service, and (hopefully) provide OnLive, through Dennis and his team with useful feedback, support and advice.

As such, I’d like to take this opportunity to offer Dennis, Jeff, Shae, Jersey, Robby and everyone else at OnLive involved in SL Go – including Jane Anderson in the US and Mark Bevan here in the UK,  my thanks and my heartfelt best wishes for the future. I do, however hope that we’ll continue to able to see one another in-world, at the very least.

In writing about the situation, in Ars Technica (linked to at the top of this article and in the links section below),  Kyle Orland notes:

Looking back, it seems OnLive was just a little bit too far ahead of the curve, both in terms of market readiness and the Internet infrastructure necessary for streaming games. As low-latency bandwidth continues to become cheaper and more accessible around the world, it seems likely someone will nail the correct combination of business model, game selection, and easy-to-use interface to become the industry’s answer to Netflix. That company will owe a debt to OnLive for getting the ball rolling and proving that streaming gaming was something that was worth trying in the first place.

I couldn’t agree more.

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18 thoughts on “SL Go discontinued as OnLive sells patents

    1. That’s assuming Sony want to continue OnLive’s services, rather than put the patents to work in their own services, AND that the volume of users will offer a reasonable influx of revenue to cover service costs were they to do so.

      However, Sony don’t appear interested in OnLive’s services – just the patents that made those services possible. As it is, almost all of OnLive’s services, PlayPack, CloudLift, SL Go and OnLive Desktop, are to be shut-down on April 30th. The only one that, for the moment, appears like it might go forward (and this is based purely on the fact that, at the time of writing, the website is still up and running without any notification of forthcoming closure) is CloudLift Enterprise; and it’s not at all clear if that’s under the OnLive banner or Sony’s banner *if* it is to continue.

      Like

  1. The concept now having been well proven, both technologically and economically (at least with respect to SL) perhaps it would be a good idea for the Lab to hire some people with expertise and do it in house.
    /me looks around slyly wondering who has both the skill-set needed and might be looking for a job.

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    1. Problem is, setting-up a streaming service is a whole different ball game to running SL. It’s not just the software. Remember, every instance of SL Go runs on its own server, which handles all the necessary viewer activities prior to it being streamed out to the client. so there’s a whole level of infrastructure required – servers, low-latency network, distributed nodes (remembering that OnLive provides the services through the international DCs). That’s a major investment LL would have to consider.

      Of course, they do have potential partners to help with some of this – their CDN providers (Highwinds, for example, already provides low-latency streaming for their clients). But even so, would the up-take among users be sufficient enough for the Lab to go that route, to hire-in what necessary expertise they do need, expend time and money in setting-up the necessary infrastructure through their partners, provision the necessary software and service … at a price users would find agreeable, or without facing accusations that either a) they’re “milking” users, or b) it’s not fair that LL charge for the service when the viewer is “free”…

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      1. You are undoubtedly right.
        Would they really be starting from scratch though? I seem to recall a short lived experiment some years ago that looked for all the world like a nascent SL Go. Heck they may even have some patents that predate the ones just bought by Sony.

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        1. I think you are referring to the 2010 beta experiments which involved provisioning SL through the Japanese streaming games provider Gaikai.

          Metaverse TV provided video demonstration of the services at the time it was being tested:

          However, Gaikai was acquired in 2012 by … Sony Computer Entertainment.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s not just SL. This shuts down Firestorm on Android and IOS for OpenSim as well. Just as things were getting interesting.

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  3. I’d like to make one thing very clear. Sony will never revive OnLive’s streaming service. Sony simply purchased all critical IP (intellectual property, patents) that comprised OnLive’s portfolio, They never had any intention of taking over the game service.

    Without these patents, OnLive cannot continue to operate independently. It’s as if Sony acquired the heart and lungs, leaving the shell. Honestly, I don’t see much hope for another streaming service for Second Life. However, I’m hoping that Linden Lab has witnessed this outcry and will be doing it’s best to provide cross-platform support for their next products.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I hope LL will view this as a challenge. To zip through sims – seeing for 1000 m – instant rezzing–on an iPad ( !!!!!!!!!). — going back to a desktop pc. ( exceeds the req by a lot) is a bummer.

    Thank you staff of The SL Go team– you rocked it.

    I saw the future in the present, and will sit rezzing like Cinderella remembering her glass iPad taking her to balls and gachas and ….sobs…..

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  5. I have a feeling that something funny is going on with this.

    A comment on the report made on The Register site claimed that OnLive had filed for bankruptcy, but no citation of a source for that. I’m sceptical.

    It may be part of the winding up of the business. American law can use different labels, and since they’ve sold the patents they may have to do something such as Chapter 11 bankruptcy (maybe not exactly that) which has parallels in the UK with a different name.

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    1. The only piece in the register I could find on a quick check was this one, which doesn’t mention bankruptcy.

      However, OnLive did go through a very bad period in 2012, when the company went into what was referred to as “an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors”, in which the company was pretty much shut-down and shareholders lost their stakes in the company. This may be what is being referred to in the article you read, as it has been referenced by several tech journals and blogs reporting the current story vis-a-vis Sony.

      The situation in 2012 lead to Onlive being acquired by Lauder Partners, which as I outlined myself in reviewing SL Go at it launch, is owned by Gary Lauder, who was initially the driving force behind the development of SL Go, having made the approach to Linden Lab himself, the result of a past working relationship with then LL CEO, Rod Humble.

      Since then, OnLive has built steadily to establish its brand and develop services such as CloudLift and PlayPack for games, plus OnLive Desktop and CloudLift Enterprise, as well as SL Go. How successful these services were proving, though, was hard to judge, although OnLive themselves have since been very forthcoming with their situation through a follow-up blog post to the initial announcement about the patent purchase Sony has made.

      In the post, OnLive explain that that while gross margins on their various services were positive, The overall lifetime value per subscriber (TPV) was still below the initial cost of acquiring a subscriber (CPA). This means that taken as a whole, the revenue being generated through retained subscribers was less than the costs involved in marketing and provisioning, etc., those services. As the blog post states, while the gap between TPV and CPA was narrowing, the company did not believe it could completely close the gap between them (and thus effectively break-even) without outside assistance; hence offering themselves for acquisition.

      However, what attracted Sony – as Dennis Harper has stated in his comment above – was not OnLive’s services. It was the 100+ patents OnLive held for streaming games. Given that Sony have recently launched their own streaming service for the PlayStation, those patents are worth a lot more than OnLive’s actual services. Hence why the latter are being shut-down at the end of April.

      As a side issue the OnLive blog post points to Sony’s interest in streaming services reaching back as far as 2012, when they acquired Japanese streaming provider Gaikai. As I noted in a comment above, Gaikai were the company who provisioned the original attempts to stream SL as a service (which never passed beyond beta), back in 2010.

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  6. Inara,

    You never fail to impress me. Your comments are spot on! Thanks for clearing the smoke about Sony. Online petitions are a waste of time. Sony has what it wants, and OnLive and SL Go will soon be a memory.

    If you really want someone to pick up the cloud streaming torch for Second Life, look no further than Linden Lab. They are the only ones who would have a vested interest in keeping this service alive. Sony never wanted it and has no plans to continue it.

    Like

    1. Thank you, Dennis. And again, thank you and your team for all you’ve done for SL users in bringing SL Go to us over the last year, and for being so responsive to users’ wants and needs.

      Like

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