OnLive, the pioneers of online game streaming, are being acquired by the gaming giant, Sony. Details surrounding the motive and purpose behind the acquisition have not been revealed, but it is safe to say that Sony is looking to further develop and improve its Playstation Now service which is currently still in Beta. 

OnLive revealed this announcement in a blog post where they stated the following:

After five years of uninterrupted service, the OnLive Game Service will be coming to an end. 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.

Sony will effectively be shutting down the current service offering and absorbing the talent, patents, industry secrets,  and software wizardry used to power the once promising streaming service. OnLive was the first game streaming service to come to the market. Their service was quickly followed by Gakai, which Sony acquired in July 2012. Currently the programming behind Gakai is what powers Playstation Now.

Interestingly enough, the two technologies function and perform a bit differently. Digital Foundry did an analysis of the two technologies back in early 2012.  To sum up its findings, OnLive performed better from an overall frame-rate, play-ability, and latency standpoint; while Gakai (Playstation Now) delivered a higher quality visual experience at the cost of latency and frame-rate.

In our testing and experience with Playstation Now, latency is the primary drawback that hampers the current viability of the service. While platformers and adventure games are certainly playable, twitch shooters and anything that requires concise reaction time are nearly unplayable. To give you a visual, my brother and I played a one-on-one match of a First-Person shooter. If you didn’t know any better, you would have thought we had never played a first-person shooter before in our lives. The level of latency made concise aiming and shooting nearly impossible. It became a game of jumping and lucky shots. (Note: Our testing of the service was through a direct ethernet connection on an internet connection of 50 MBPS download speeds and 20 MBPS upload speeds; over 10X what Sony recommends you have for the service.)

We are not alone in our experience with Playstation Now’s current latency situation. Playstation’s community forums and other sites have experienced similar latency challenges on the service. 

“The OP is 100% correct, and those saying “Everything is fine” are most likely playing games where input lag is not noticeable….trying playing Dead Island, one of the Sonic games….they are barely playable.”

With the popularity of shooters, Sony needs to find a solution to the situation, and the OnLive acquisition might just be the missing piece of the puzzle. Hopefully this acquisition and merging of the two technologies will allow Sony to find the “sweet spot” to deliver a superb visual experience without its current latency woes. 

Additionally  by Sony acquiring OnLive, they are eliminating their largest competitor. If game streaming takes off and becomes more viable, acquiring OnLive will position Sony as the industry leader and add a unique value proposition to purchase their products that leverage the service such as cellphones, televisions, and more.

What are your thoughts on Sony acquiring OnLive? Have you experienced latency when using Playstation Now? Let us know what you think in the comments below.