The ‘Respawn’ of OnLive
This is a proud moment for OnLive. It is the culmination of a lot of thought and effort on the part of many talented people. After examining what gamers really want and need, we realized that we could do a better job for them by not trying to be their everything, and to do for them that for which we are uniquely suited. In other words, our new CloudLift service improves the user experience by enabling gamers to both download/play their games locally when they are on a platform capable of it (i.e. gaming computer), while still enjoying the benefits of OnLive’s portability when they are not. This capability should further improve the advantages of downloaded games over physical media due to the portability we bring. Not only do we enable one to move between PC, Mac, Android and TV’s (platform portability), but between one’s home, office, friends’ house, vacation spot, etc. (geographic portability). Downloaded games are otherwise cumbersome to re-download at a friend’s house. We think that our additional functionality conferred to existing and new games is great for gamers, and good for the whole category of downloadable PC games.
This change has also allowed us to on-board games more quickly due to not having to modify the games. This should allow us to deliver games on their retail launch dates.
In addition to offering our traditional fare of games, we have added MMO’s (Massively Multiplayer Online games), under a new brand: “OnLive Go.” We just announced the first two: Second Life from Linden Lab (not a “game,” but a virtual world), and War Thunder from Gaijin Entertainment. Second Life is available now under the name “SL Go” and works on all of our platforms except iOS [update as of 10/14: including iOS].
These applications are designed to do best on high-end computers with fast GPU’s. Most people are not buying those, and instead migrating to laptops and tablets, on which these applications do not perform as well. To use these apps, you have to either own or rent the fast computer. OnLive Go, including SL Go, lets you rent the way an Internet café would, only it gives the freedom to use it anywhere that you have high bandwidth. This cost is in line with most forms of entertainment (see: http://kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2011/03/your_attention.php ). This variable-rate billing model seems very 1990’s, but is inescapable since so many MMO users spend large fractions of their lives connected, sometimes only in the background. Think of it this way, at 5 cents/minute it is 37% cheaper than a Skype call to Italy from the USA, and it’s a connection that consumes >100X Skype’s bandwidth and includes a very powerful computer that would only have been cheaper to have owned after you used it for almost 1000 hours, and even then, it could not achieve our speeds since our data centers benefit from gigabit connections to the internet. The latter claim can be verified by subscribing to our amazing OnLive Cloud Desktop (for iOS and Android) and running SpeedTest.net or similar bandwidth tools. SL Go is a power tool that delivers a fast and immersive experience that enables one to experience Second Life in all of its beauty and complexity. If you want almost-free with less performance, use Lumiya for Android. This power tool is for people who value their time and getting the best graphical experiences where they are or would like to be.
Speaking of bandwidth, residential Internet bandwidth continues to increase by leaps and bounds. According to Akamai’s most recent State of the Internet Report (3Q13 (5 months old)), the percentage of US homes with bandwidth over 10Mbps has gone up by 82% in the prior year (from 19% to 34%). The US average data rate was 9.8Mbps, and 75% have a connection ≥4Mbps. These trends will only continue. We can work with as few as 2Mbps, but faster connections result in better performance. We claim no credit for this trend, but we claim tremendous benefit from it.
Organizationally, we have improved in many ways. Following the maxim of always hiring people that are smarter than you, I have hired Mark Jung as Executive Chairman (the boss). I will just be director (of the board) and lead investor. Mark has recruited some amazing additional talent that are enumerated in today’s press release.
All in all, we have come a long way. The table below summarizes some of the key ways that we have changed since OnLive “respawned.”
OnLive Change Log
|OnLive Inc. (OL1) pre-8/17/12||OL2 Inc. (doing business as “OnLive”)|
|Services: PlayPack, PlayPass, OnLive Cloud Desktop||CloudLift, OnLive Go (SL Go), PlayPack, OnLive Cloud Desktop|
|All game play only from cloud||Game play choice (cloud and/or local)|
|Custom modified games||Little to no modifications|
|Game platforms: PC, Mac, Android & OnLive Game System (for TV)||Added: LG TV’s (GTV), VIZIO Co-Star. Side-loadable: (nVidia Shield, Ouya)More to come.|
|OnLive brand centric||Game brand centric|
|4 Data centers (server locations)||6 Data centers (server locations)|
|US bandwidth: % >4Mbps: 62% (3Q12)||75% (3Q13 (5 months ago))|
|US bandwidth: % >10Mbps: 18% (3Q12)||34% (3Q13 (5 months ago))|
|Office location: Palo Alto, CA||Mountain View, CA|
|# of Employees: >200||>100|
|# of Issued Patents: 14||95 (w/214 more pending or allowed)|
|Technology breakthrough||Scalable business|