Home > Games > OnLive employees fire, acquisition imminent? OnLive employees fire, acquisition imminent? Thom Holwerda 2012-08-17 Games 28 Comments Interesting. The Verge summarises the loads of news and rumours coming out of OnLive today – much of the staff seems to have been laid off, and an acquisition could be imminent. Who will it be? Apple? Google? Microsoft? EA? Valve? CommodoreUSA? About The Author Thom Holwerda Follow me on Twitter @thomholwerda 28 Comments 2012-08-18 12:50 am WorknMan Whether this is true or not, I hope this gets users of other cloud-based services to start asking some serious questions, and I’m especially looking at you, Steam users. Sure, they might have promised to unlock the games when/if the service ceases to exist, but is that somewhere in a written agreement, and legally binding? If not, you guys are probably going to be taking it up the ass at some point in the future. I can imagine a scenario where Valve closes up shop and gives users the middle finger when asked about maintaining access to games that people hav spent hundreds of dollars on. It’s easy for companies to promise the world while you’re handing them money, but let’s see what happens when it’s time for them to deliver. Sometimes, it might be worth the risk when they have a fire sale and the games are going for like $5, but people who are spending serious cash on services like Steam REALLY need to start thinking about this stuff. Edited 2012-08-18 00:52 UTC 2012-08-18 12:57 am linux-lover Steam is a bit different as the games a stored locally on your machine. Valve has said if they go under they will simply let unlock the DRM from the games. They created the DRM, they can unlock it (actually people have thrown cracked copies on thepiratebay anyways…). 2012-08-18 1:01 am WorknMan Steam is a bit different as the games a stored locally on your machine. Valve has said if they go under they will simply let unlock the DRM from the games. Like I said, do they have a legal obligation to do so? And could they legally unlock games from the service that they themselves did not create? 2012-08-18 1:45 am broken_symlink I think valve puts DRM on the games on steam, because some of them are available outside of steam as well, like world of goo, and i don’t think it comes with drm if you buy it outside of steam. 2012-08-18 10:22 am Soulbender Like I said, do they have a legal obligation to do so? No. And could they legally unlock games from the service that they themselves did not create? Yes, they can legally unlock games they didn’t create that are using the Steam DRM. They’re not removing the developers DRM, just making the game run without the Steam service. 2012-08-18 2:10 pm Alfman Soulbender, “Yes, they can legally unlock games they didn’t create that are using the Steam DRM. They’re not removing the developers DRM, just making the game run without the Steam service.” I’m not sure you understood what WorknMan was getting at. If the DRM was made generically such that disabling it will disable it globally, then they might be unable to simultaneously disable the DRM for their own titles while not affecting other titles. There may be legal contracts in place not to disable DRM on other titles. It seems plausible that this could be the case. On the other hand if they go under, they may not care about their contractual obligations. And technically they’d probably be able to distribute some kind of key generator for their own titles without disabling the DRM. In any case I’m not particularly comfortable with a computing experience where all my legitimate software is locked by DRM. It does represent a very real risk and we’re left having to trust corporations who may or may not follow through on their marketing promises in times of distress. 2012-08-18 2:28 pm Alfman Here’s an interesting twist. What if they don’t have a DRM kill switch/bypass key ready to distribute now? Between engineers who’ve seen the writing on the wall and the frantic environment caused by the company going under, they may not have any developers left who are familiar with how to disable the DRM. Not sure how realistic a sudden shutdown like this would be though. 2012-08-18 5:03 pm _txf_ If the DRM was made generically such that disabling it will disable it globally, then they might be unable to simultaneously disable the DRM for their own titles while not affecting other titles. There may be legal contracts in place not to disable DRM on other titles. I don’t actually think that is the case. Some publishers (like ubisoft) add their own drm on top of the one in steam. If there were agreements like those I don’t think the other publishers would bother. It also should be noted that steam also works without a connection to the net; you can’t download new games/updates but you can play games that are installed on your pc (provided they don’t have scummy ubisoft type drm as well). Edited 2012-08-18 17:06 UTC 2012-08-18 8:22 pm Alfman _txf_, “I don’t actually think that is the case. Some publishers (like ubisoft) add their own drm on top of the one in steam.” I’d imagine that some titles may have to have their native DRM crippled in order to be installed flawlessly through steam, but it’s just a guess. I have no information on the matter. “It also should be noted that steam also works without a connection to the net; you can’t download new games/updates but you can play games that are installed on your pc (provided they don’t have scummy ubisoft type drm as well).” Yes, many have stated that’s it’s a one time activation. However without the activation service, aren’t users going to reach a dead end once their computer needs replacement? I am curious how times you can reactivate a single copy? Allow too few, and some users will be blocked from reactivating legitimately on new systems. Too many, and users may take advantage by activating the software on friend’s computers. Still, as far as DRM goes, steam’s is far less obnoxious than many of the others. 2012-08-19 2:21 am bassbeast Does it matter? The cracks are already out there just like with the retail games only you aren’t paying anywhere near retail prices. Frankly steam should be held up as an example of what digital distribution should be about as if the publishers aren’t paying for the boxes, shipping, unsold copies, etc why should they get the same as a retail box? I have over 60 games in Steam, nearly all AAA titles, wanna know the absolute most I paid for a single game? $12. I recently got the entire Deus Ex series AND the DLC for $15, FEAR 1&2 I got WITH the expansions for $10, SR3 WITH all the DLC I wanted for $14…why should I care about the DRM? I can strip that away with a quick trip to GCW if they ever go under and at least with Steam I’m not gonna have to clean out a Starforce or SecuROM infection while I’m at it. As for TFA? Might work in Asia, not gonna work here unless you are in a megacity. While the rest of the world gets big pipes our “corporate yay!” system has left huge sections of the country with duopolies or monopolies that sit on behind and just raise prices without running any more lines. I’ve been in the middle of major cities and not been able to get broadband because the duopoly had already cherry picked where they wanted and wasn’t running anywhere else. heck you can see the DSL and cable junction boxes from my mother’s front porch and I’ve been fighting with them for nearly 3 years now to get them to run the whole 1 block to her house, neither will do so. So I’m not surprised with OnLive going under, our broadband in the USA is too lousy in most places to support their service. 2012-08-19 5:04 am Alfman bassbeast, “Does it matter? The cracks are already out there just like with the retail games” I know where you’re coming from, I’ve shamelessly resorted to cracking legal copies of software for myself and others when the DRM was unsuitable. Never the less the idealist in me says that we shouldn’t have to rely on the existence of warez to mentally justify the shortcomings of DRM. “…why should I care about the DRM?” Well, for one, it’s wasted engineering that implicitly only hurts the innocent user. As you noted it doesn’t stop unauthorised distribution. Engineers know this, but most CEOs have yet to learn it. Also, I find the notion of having DRM linked into all our critical software, operating systems, etc to be very troubling…it opens up potential for new exploits and abuse….not to point a finger at steam in particular (sony deserves a mention though). In the future when the works finally enter public domain, many will be DRM ridden and unusable under future emulation. Edited 2012-08-19 05:07 UTC 2012-08-19 11:17 pm bassbeast That why pirates are your friend arrgh. I’ve had to crack more games than many here have had steak dinners, did I steal the games? Nope bought them legally but I switched to X64 in 2005 and <em>old versions of SecuROM and Safedisc don’t work in X64</em> even though the games run perfectly fine. Oh and FYI if you are foolish enough to try to run them without cracking first? The safedisc and SecuROM installer will jam 32bit kernel hooks into your 64bit kernel thus giving you a machine less stable than WinME and the uninstallers on their own site DO NOT WORK IN X64 on the older versions so you are just hosed. Yes in a perfect world we wouldn’t need places like GCW, but its not a perfect world is it? You could buy every decent game at GOG for $400 with change left over as for every decent game they have a dozen stinkers, all of the retail games have MUCH nastier DRM than Steam and of course once opened you can’t take ’em back, so where does that leave those of us that want to play a game? So you do what you gotta do, simple as that. if MSFT goes crazy with the DRM I’ll just get a crack like I would for any game I bought and that would be the end of that, in the end I bought it, I paid for it, and I’m damned well gonna use it whether they like it or not. and with Steam at least the prices are so dirt cheap frankly you couldn’t rent the games for the prices they sell them for (JC II for $7 with the DLC? Deus Ex the entire series for $15 with the DLC? SR 3 with all the DLC I wanted for $14 while the boys got the game with all the DLC they made for $24?) I honestly don’t think spending a whole 20 minutes going to GCW if they ever go under which is highly unlikely is really that much of a hardship, do you? Anybody that has played games for any length of time has done this dance, just watch this video to see one guy (warning language NSFW but who can blame him) having to crack his brand new retail edition just to get the game to run… http://www.metacafe.com/watch/yt-mt4BpnfAN-o/how_anti_piracy_screws… 2012-08-24 10:32 pm zima Somehow WinMe was never unstable for me… but, perhaps you hint at why it was for some – people tried to use old win9x “advanced” tricks which sometimes didn’t work so well any more (with a bit too many changes under the hood), and even broke the system. 2012-08-20 5:41 pm WorknMan Well, for one, (DRM is) wasted engineering that implicitly only hurts the innocent user. As you noted it doesn’t stop unauthorised distribution. It apparently did for Diablo 3 (unless somebody figured out how to crack it). But yeah, if you’re paying like $5-$10 for Steam games, then I suppose it is valuable. Heck, that’s about as cheap as a Blockbuster rental 2012-08-18 2:46 am viton It’s easy for companies to promise the world while you’re handing them money, but let’s see what happens when it’s time for them to deliver. Then you get this: your lifetime service will end on October 31, 2012. https://plus.google.com/u/0/112783391065033208484/posts/16WyAvu37wE Edited 2012-08-18 02:49 UTC 2012-08-21 4:49 am zima When you hear “your lifetime service will end” – run! 2012-08-18 8:47 am Ultimatebadass It steam goes belly-up and does not provide access to games I’ve bought from them I’ll just download my whole steam library from some torrent site. I imagine people playing online multiplayer games will have it tougher though. 2012-08-18 12:54 am linux-lover If it was an aquisition I wish it was Valve, but I doubt they would lay off everyone like that. I hope it is _not_ Sony, Microsoft, EA or Apple. If it was Google….meh. But I don’t know if it is an aquisition if everyone has been laid off. Possibly bankruptcy? 2012-08-19 1:38 pm Beta I hope it is _not_ Sony, Microsoft, EA or Apple. Sony has Gaikai, why would they buy another? 2012-08-19 11:40 pm bassbeast What would Valve do with it? they are already making money hand over fist and if the rumors are true old Gabe is gonna come out with a Steambox thus won’t need this. EA recently put themselves up for sale, so no dice there, Apple? i can’t see them seeing any value in this except for any possible patents, same with MSFT. And Google? Unless they roll out enough fiber I just don’t see it working. No most likely its a VC vulture that has come in to scoop up any patents and trolololo all over the place. makes sense and if anybody was buying it for the actual company they wouldn’t be canning everyone without even doing interviews to see who to keep. Nope it smells like some VC patent troll to me. 2012-08-18 12:57 am firstname.lastname@example.org It’s hard to know what to say. I feel bad for the employees and their families, and I’ve always liked the OnLive service and branding. But this? This is a dark dark cloud. Bad things happen in business, sure, and we brave the storms and trudge on optimistically. But I’ve had first hand experience with the abruptness of just this sort of sweeping change… and while I can understand the argument for it, I dare say, if it isn’t ‘unprofessional’ then I would certainly class it as ‘unethical’. Coming to work one day and finding out that, without warning, not only are you being termed, but the company you work for doesn’t really exist anymore and your options are gone? I pray they’re receiving some sort of severance. And that’s to say nothing for people who bought their systems, paid for their services, partners who integrated their technology into their devices, etc. As for the buyer… Not much of a rescue here. More like vulture picking at the dead body before it’s blood ran cold. Yeah, onlive is still online – but for how long? With what stability? And what can we expect moving forward? And what about us, the consumers that patronized OnLive? Are we to bow to the criticism we endured from our friends for trusting our games to the cloud? Were we wrong to trust in new technology? What will the future bring. I don’t know. But I don’t like waiting to find out. Edited 2012-08-18 00:58 UTC 2012-08-18 5:13 am moondevil Just do like I do, never thrust the cloud. Applications should be in the desktop, not hosted in some other peoples computer. If this means not playing a specific game or using an application, then be it. At least I have full control over the software and data I use. 2012-08-18 4:36 pm leech Agreed whole heartily. You remember the days when you could actually BUY software and not License it? Oh.. .memories… 2012-08-24 10:27 pm zima …and you’re telling us this using OSNews / the cloud ;p (while there are distributed – and typically grabbing the data of interest for storage on your local system – news dissemination and discussion systems; Usenet being the prime example) 2012-08-18 3:44 am crazed-glue Isn’t it already steamy enough? 2012-08-19 1:36 pm Beta The CEO is a bit of a shit. Back on topic, lets answer some guesses Apple Doesnâ€™t need streaming/rental games, they are more than happy to get 30% from selling to you. And it defeats their attempt to have Apple attached to your life (TV, tablet, laptop, etc) Google Canâ€™t see them needing it, but maybe. Microsoft For patent trolling Sony? Maybe. To get a feature for XboxNext? Maybe. EA Likely, Origin seems to be expanding atm and this dick move seems to be something in their area of expertise. Valve Nope. Doesnâ€™t have the capital or the want for it. Thoughts? 2012-08-19 11:52 pm bassbeast I’d say you are right on the money with everything but EA who just announced they are for sale which means new acquisitions are gonna be off the table. I could see Apple or MSFT buying them for the patents, which with everyone getting pink slips it looks like that’s what they were bought for, but my money is going for one of the many VC patent vultures we’ve seen spring up lately. In any case the fact that the entire company pretty much got fired without even doing interviews to see who would be worth keeping smells like a vulture swooping in for any IP and patents they can snatch. Sadly tech lawsuits have become such money makers in the USA that the second any company like OnLive with any patents starts bleeding the sharks come looking to feed. my heart goes out to those employees, bad time to be getting a pink slip, bad time. 2012-08-21 4:52 am zima When there is a good time?