Gaming news summary for April 15, 2015
The Weekly Game Replay is no more, because there will be more posts than just once a week, due to popular demand. Rebranded the Game Replay and published every Sunday and Wednesday, the staff of MacNN and Electronista provide a look at the wider gaming landscape. Today's list of noteworthy gaming items include the launch of Grand Theft Auto on PC, the return of Guitar Hero, and one gamer's attempt to recreate the ill-fated OnLive using Amazon Web Services.
Acquisition of OnLive patents set to help Sony PlayStation Now
OnLive, an online game streaming service, is closing down at the end of this month, after selling its patent collection to Sony. The haul of 140 US and international patents will be picked up to help Sony improve its own rival PlayStation Now streaming service, with the shutdown of OnLive servers on April 30 effectively ending the troubled streaming company's existence.
Service touts security, speed, low bandwidth requirements
Troubled cloud computing company OnLive has announced CloudLift Enterprise, a new cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).Â The OnLive CloudLift Enterprise service offers businesses the ability to stream latency-sensitive graphics-intensive applications -- such as high-definition interactive demos, simulations and 3D programs -- from the cloud to virtually any device with little, if any, lag.
OnLive offers streaming option to downloaded games bought elsewhere
Streaming gaming service OnLive is attempting a relaunch by announcing two new services, following its meltdown in 2012. Retaining the same Playpack subscription option and going through a graphical overhaul, OnLive is taking the opportunity to add to its existing streaming offerings, with CloudLift streaming games already owned by the user, and a second service meant for developers called OnLive Go.
Cloud gaming company purchase days before liquidation
The assets of cloud gaming service OnLive were sold for under $5 million, following the public collapse and mass lay-off this summer. The Mercury News obtained a letter from the company managing the insolvency showing the offer of $4.8 million from venture capitalist Gary Lauder just days before liquidation was set to take place.
Software giant hosts mixer targeting OnLive personnel
In the wake of the dramatic collapse and restructuring of OnLive, Microsoft may be looking to bring some of the game streaming service's former employees under its wing. The company is said to be one among many that are interested in picking up some of OnLive's former personnel, and Microsoft is going so far as to host a mixer targeted at OnLive alumni. The invitation for the mixer makes sure to point out that Microsoft's hiring managers will be on hand and ready mingle with attendees.
Abrupt shutdown was imminent, says insolvency manager
Defunct game streaming service OnLive was apparently in greater financial trouble than anyone had previously guessed by the time it went insolvent last week. An executive at the firm that handled OnLive's insolvency process tells SiliconValley.com that the streaming service was between $30 and $40 million in debt to assorted creditors, with little hope of meeting those obligations any time soon. The company apparently had only days to live before its insolvency, and is said to have averted an even more disastrous shutdown by taking the path that it did.
HTC one of several prominent debtors hit by OnLive restructure
HTC is one of a number of OnLive debtors caught up in its Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors (ABC) restructure. PC World reports that the embattled Taiwanese handset manufacturer has informed the Taiwan Stock Exchange of a $40 million loss incurred following the dramatic events that unfolded over the past week at the online streaming games service. Although the restructure has been architected in a way designed to give initial investors some return on their investment, HTC appears to be taking a pessimistic view on the matter.
New company formed, backed by 'substantial funding'
Game streaming service OnLive may be on the verge of shutting its doors, according to reports. Earlier today, the company called an all-hands meeting and fired the entire staff in the process, according to Mashable. Director of corporate communications Brian Jaquet has refused to comment on the news, except to say that OnLive is not shutting down.
Vizio Co-Star STB includes support for OnLive gaming
Vizio has fired its latest volley in the battle for people's lounge rooms with the launch of its Co-Star Google TV set-top box. The device is now up for pre-order on the Vizio website for $100. In addition to Google TV, it also offers users the ability to install apps like OnLive, bringing console level gaming to users with high-bandwidth Internet connections.
Nexus 7 in line for OnLive Universal Controller support
OnLive is reportedly working to bring support for its $50 Universal Controller to the Google Nexus 7 tablet. The controller already works with a range of Android tablets include the Iconia Tab A500, the Motorola Xoom and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer as well as numerous Android smartphones. It also works with Macs and PCs, but offers gamers with tablets a much better way of playing first-player shooters among other genres on their touch screen devices.
Game streaming service an option for NSZ-GS7
A forthcoming Internet player from Sony is being offered to customers with service and hardware from game streaming company OnLive as an optional inclusion. This marks the first time that a Sony product has shipped with OnLive as an option. The inclusion of the game streaming service lends credence to rumors that there is some sort of significant collaboration occurring between the two companies, though the exact nature of the relationship remains unclear.
$99 box announced today
Vizio has announced its new Co-Star Stream Player. The new set-top box is powered by Google TV and integrates game streaming service OnLive, with extra hardware to take advantage of the gaming addition.
No comment on partnerships, streaming, but sees it coming
Sony appears to be either preparing its own cloud gaming service or aware of the trend and looking to take advantage of it sometime soon. Speaking with GamesIndustry International during E3, Sony Worldwide Studios vice president Scott Rohde said the company recognizes that cloud gaming "just makes sense," and that cloud services in general are "absolutely inevitable." Rohde wouldn't delve into specifics, but he did say that the next five years should see the cloud emerging as a dominant force in virtually all computing sectors.
In-app game purchasing mechanisms removed from title
OnLive announced and demoed its streaming game service client for the iPad at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). According to OnLive representatives, the previously heavily-promoted application has yet to be approved by Apple for App Store distribution. CEO Steve Perlman announced at this year's E3 that the iOS version of the app has been complete for some time, but has yet to be approved. Perlman gave no reason for the delay, but did say that the game purchase mechanism had been disabled in the application to avoid Apple's in-app purchasing policies, which may pose a problem in itself.
Sony may announce OnLive or Gaikai buy-out at E3 next week
Sony is rumored to be in deep-level talks to buy out a well-known cloud gaming company, MCV learned, though exactly which one isn't known. The official announcement is expected to be made at the E3 gaming show next week, according to earlier reports. The deal "is close to being signed," according to MCV's source, who isn't being identified.
OnLive cleared to go on iPad
OnLive has quietly settled the OnLive Desktop licensing dispute with Microsoft. A check at OnLiveFans found that the streaming software company has switched over to Windows Server 2008 R2 instead of Windows 7 for the OS users see. The switch gives it all the functionality OnLive was already promising, but avoids the concerns of needing a license for virtually every user.
Warns other partners about proper licensing
Microsoft has warned its partners and outsourcers that certain forms of Windows 7 in cloud services might be out of bounds. In most cases, the partner's customers themselves must hold valid Microsoft license agreements. The advisory has come in the wake of allegations that software-as-a-service provider OnLive may be using Windows and Office illegally in the way it streams from servers to users.
OnLive launches Android-compatible Desktop app
Users of Android tablets can now install the OnLive Desktop app (free, Android Market) to access Windows apps. The new version mirrors the iPad edition with cloud access to a virtual machine with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as Adobe Reader for non-web PDFs. There is also 2GB of cloud storage included to save the resulting work.
OnLive Desktop Plus tries subscription
OnLive on Wednesday boosted its Desktop for iPad with a new subscription tier. Desktop Plus gives access to a version of Internet Explorer with both Flash and PDF support. To help justify the software additions, OnLive gives high-priority access to its streaming virtualization service.
Netflix to stay out of games for now
Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings in the call discussing his company's fall 2011 results reaffirmed suspicions that the company was no longer working on video game rentals. The decision to cancel the Qwikster spinoff had also ended plans to rent games at the same time. The still-united company would be focused solely on its movie and TV businesses.
Razer 2012 lineup tested at CES
We had the opportunity to explore Razer's whole CES 2012 lineup this week. The company kicked off the year by shipping the Blade and revealing thhe Naga Hex mouse, but its true surprise was exploring tablets with Project Fiona. We'll see how all three have fared after the break.
Microsoft and Google TV plans trade fortunes
Microsoft and Google made both official and unofficial plans for their TV strategies on Wednesday. A leak uncovered by Reuters had Microsoft freezing its long-rumored plans for live subscription Xbox TV. The company had decided that the rates TV channels were asking for the Internet-only service were "too expensive" for the plan it wanted to offer, industry insiders said.
OnLive Player goes to Xperia Play
OnLive on Thursday night brought its live play Android app (free, Android Market) to Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play. The already gaming-oriented phone can stream games and get full access to the physical gamepad, making it a much better fit for console and general action games. Gamers can now skip playing the touch-optimized adaptations if they prefer the hardware feel.
OnLive switches on tablet, phone apps and gamepad
Acting on promises from E3, OnLive late Wednesday launched its mobile gameplay apps. The iPad, iPhone, and Android apps are gradually rolling out and should let gamers play, not just watch, titles either using the touchscreen or with the Universal Wireless Controller. It normally needs Wi-Fi, but the shipping version now works with any LTE-equipped tablet, including the HTC Jetstream, Motorola Xoom, and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE.
HTC Edge to carry 720p LCD, Tegra 3, Beats
HTC's most ambitious Android phone ever may have been unveiled in a sighting that matched both a press shot and details. Just called the Edge, the device would be the first phone with the upcoming Tegra 3, PocketNow heard. The AP30 chip would clock in at 1.5GHz on its four cores and possibly double the speed of a phone like the Rezound.
HTC aims to spend cash on more content deals
HTC chief executive Peter Chou believes the Taiwanese company needs to develop more content deals in order to become the best-known smartphone brand. Speaking with the FT [free reg. required], Chou said users need a "holistic experience of hardware, software and content" in order to be successful. HTC already made deals with Saffron for streaming video, OnLive for gaming and a 10 percent stake in KKBox, a Taiwanese online music service.
On-demand gaming for computers, TVs, tablets
OnLive has announced that its cloud-based gaming service is now available to customers in the UK. The initial launch, which will be formally introduced later today at the 2011 Eurogamer Expo, will enable users to access approximately 150 games via broadband connections and a television, PC or Mac computer, and iPads or Android-based tablets.
GameStop compensates deprived Deus Ex buyers
GameStop on Friday sought to quickly contain the bad publicity surrounding its decision to pull OnLive coupons for free games from Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Those who bought copies of the game before it was temporarily pulled from shelves will get both a $50 gift card for the store as well as a two-for-one deal on used games they might buy. It's stil unknown if or when the action RPG will return to shelves.
GameStop pulls Deus Ex, has Square Enix support
GameStop has responded to the backlash after it was found to open PC copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and removing coupons for the game on the OnLive games streaming system by pulling all copies of the game from store shelves. A copy of the e-mail sent to franchise stores was sent to Wired urges stores to pull the regular PC copy of the game for a later return and refund to maker Square Enix. Surpisingly, Square Enix supports GameStop's decision.
GameStop squelches competition with box plans
GameStop drew widespread criticism from gamers Wednesday after it confirmed that it had been altering copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution to silence competition. Store field operations manager Josh Ivanoff sent a memo asking staff to "immediately" open boxes and pull the OnLive coupons for a streaming version of the action RPG from all standard copies. While the note only said that GameStop didn't want the coupon to "go to any customers," GameStop spokeswoman Beth Sharum tried to portray it to Ars Technica as an act of subversion by Square Enix.
DIDO technology promises to get 10X capacity
Acting on promises, OnLive founder Steve Perlman on Thursday published a white paper (below) outlining a technology that could theoretically clear up cellular and other Wi-Fi networks. Distributed Input, Distributed Output (DIDO) skips computing the direct signal waveforms of most technology and instead has a datacenter handle the task. Because the datacenter can produce different waveforms, each device gets its own distinct waveform and doesn't face interference, even if a more powerful other signal is in the area.
Rearden developed radios that break Shannon's Law
At a recent speech at the Columbia University in New York, OnLive CEO Steve Perlman spoke about one of his companies, Rearden, finding a way to go beyond Shannon's Law in wireless technology. Shannon's Law sets the limits for wireless data capacity but Rearden's invention is said to beat what Shannon's Law says is possible by a factor of ten. As for current wireless networks, the new radios are said to be able to send 100 times the data using the same spectrum.
HTC Flyer users get OnLive viewer app
HTC Flyer owners are reporting getting the promised OnLive Viewer app as an official update. The app seen by early XDA adopters gives those with the Android tablet the option iPad users have already had to spectate games and view gamers' 10-second Brag Clips. Actual gameplay will have to wait until the OnLive Player app in the summer.
We use OnLive's iPad app first-hand
Among the numerous things OnLive unveiled at E3 was a demo of an OnLive Player app for the iPad and the HTC Flyer. We gave it a turn at E3 and came back with a strong promise, although there were some bumps along the way. Read ahead for our early impressions.
We test OnLive's wireless gamepad at E3
We had the opportunity at E3 to try OnLive's new Universal Wireless Controller well before it ships. The gamepad, although it's meant for anything ranging from an iPad through to a Mac or PC, feels very much like an Xbox 360 controller in the hand -- that's a good thing, as it's very comfortable. Buttons and sticks all fall easily within reach, and we liked the media controls for Brag Clips (replay videos) as a way of keeping it keyboard-free.
OnLive gets Wireless Controller and Facebook
OnLive swung into action ahead of E3 on Thursday with the unveiling of a gamepad that should work on nearly every platform. Its Universal Wireless Controller can directly control the streaming game service from not just Macs or Windows PCs but also the MicroConsole, Android tablets like the HTC Flyer, the iPad, and some Vizio TVs. Bluetooth is available for those devices that can use it but is braced by a USB adapter that can plug directly into devices that normally want a wired link.
GameStop to use Spawn for tablet gaming, own model
GameStop during its Investor's Day event on Friday outlined major plans to get into remote gaming and the tablet field. Its purchase of Spawn Labs, which provided remote console streaming for developers, will let it offer an OnLive-like streaming service to play many games, including console titles, on a tablet, a notebook, or other devices with large screens. The Dallas Morning News was told that GameStop would still try to protect its retail business by limiting the streaming to buyers who register their games with the Power Up Rewards program and may take on an additional subscription fee.
ATT capping DSL and U-verse May 2
AT&T after a leak on Sunday confirmed that it will join other Internet providers in capping its service. Beginning on May 2, regular DSL subscribers will have up to 150GB per month, while those on its U-verse VDSL connections will have the same 250GB as a Comcast user. BBR was told overage fees of $10 for each extra 50GB of data will be in effect, but will only kick in for those who run over the cap three times, albeit over the duration of the account and not per year.
OnLive ties free MicroConsole to Homefront
OnLive hoped to kickstart adoption of its MicroConsole this weekend with a special promo tied into the launch of the resistance shooter Homefront. Those who pre-order the game through OnLive's streaming service get the MicroConsole for free and can play the game from most any HDTV without having to have a computer. The deal saves the $99 price and still gives access through Macs and Windows PCs, although it doesn't include shipping or taxes.
HTC Flyer arrives at MWC
HTC this morning kicked off the launch of a slew of new hardware headlined by its first tablet in years. The Flyer revolves around an uncharacteristically fast 1.5GHz processor and a seven-inch, 1024x600 display. It's also the first known device to be shipping with Android 2.4, a new but relatively mild upgrade to Gingerbread (2.3); Google didn't give it enough time with Android 3.0, HTC said.
HTC invests 40m in OnLive remote gaming
HTC on Tuesday said it planned to buy a stake in OnLive's gaming service. The Android phone pioneer expects to get 5.33 million shares at the equivalent of $40 million. It didn't say how soon this would take place or what its ultimate aims would be other than streaming games and media.
OnLive $10 monthly PlayPack service goes live
OnLive has now launched its PlayPack subscription service introduced in December. For $10 a month, users can play for an unlimited time, picking from 38 titles. They are different from the stand-alone game offerings, which tend to be newer and more popular titles.
OnLive cloud gaming patent approved after 8 years
A patent filed by OnLive, the company behind approved at the US Patent Office. Called 'Apparatus and method for wireless video gaming,' or Patent 7,849,491, it describes a remote server for processing the game with a MicroConsole at the user's home to interface with the TV and controllers. Filed back in December of 2002, the patent reveals that the game card used in the system has a data rate of at least 200Mbps.
OnLive gets into streaming apps
OnLive at the D: Dive Into Mobile show today expanded its scope beyond just gaming with plans to stream regular apps and websites to other devices. The company targeted it at mobile users and showed apps and features running through the OnLive Viewer iPad client (free, App Store) that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. Users could run an instance of Internet Explorer with Flash on Apple's tablet, or even a high-end professional rendering app like Autodesk's Maya, chief executive Steve Perlman proved on stage.
OnLive and Vizio talking movie subscriptions
Cloud game service OnLive and TV maker Vizio are discussing separate deals for subscription movie services of their own, sources both official and unofficial said Sunday night. OnLive is publicly committed to expanding to movies through both subscriptions and other business models, but Vizio is unofficially believed to be in early talks for content. The details weren't known to the Wall Street Journal contacts.
OnLive offers PlayPack subscription option
OnLive today tried a new business model for its streaming gaming service for those wanting an alternative to per-title access. The PlayPack gives users access to at least 40 older but high-profile games, such as the recent Prince of Persia remake and LEGO Batman, for $10 per month. Game saves still work and will be kept for up to a year after a gamer stops subscribing, letting them resume if they either start another subscription or buy access outright.
Offers streaming cloud-based gaming
OnLive has launched its MicroConsole first seen in beta form earlier this year. The MicroConsole TV adapter connects to both your wired broadband connection and your TV allowing games to be ‘delivered’ instantly over the internet. The selling point of this console is that it theoretically never needs to be upgraded as the games are run server side, and not locally.
OnLive Wi-Fi beta now active
OnLive this weekend switched on a Wi-Fi play beta. The Mac and Windows service had previously needed a wired link to stream games without hiccups but is now optimized to address the possible temporary interruptions and other connection issues with wireless. Using the wireless induces some extra lag but otherwise works the same as for wired.
Gaikai partners with Intel, Limelight Networks
Game streaming platform Gaikai has just announced two new partners in Intel and Limelight Networks. While details weren't released, Gaikai will use Intel's six-core CPUs and solid-state drives to handle the games. The devices will then be installed within Limelight Networks' infrastructure.