OnLive Patents Cloud-Based PC Gaming

Tuesday OnLive chief executive Steve Perlman said in an interview that the company was finally granted a patent last week covering the invention of cloud-based video games-- U.S. Patent No. 7,849,491.

Listed as the inventor, Perlman originally filed for the patent back in December 2002 just after he began working on what eventually became the current OnLive streaming service launched earlier this year. It covers a "breakthrough" technology that streams "high-twitch action" videogames from remote servers in data centers using a compression unit, and a transceiver to transmit compressed game video to players with broadband-connected HDTVs, PCs, Macs or mobile devices.

Although the new patent could be a big turning point for gamers, hardware manufacturers and retailers could see it as a major threat. Theoretically consumers would no longer need to purchase games in brick-and-mortar stores and online e-tailers like Steam and Gamer's Gate, as titles can be rented and purchased through the OnLive service.

The patent could also possibly eliminate the need for purchasing a new console or upgrading PC components to run the latest title. Instead, OnLive users would only need minimal hardware to play games that would normally require high-end hardware to run. Eventually OnLive will extend its streaming games to mobile applications like the iPad and Android-based devices.

"This is an industry-changing patent," Perlman told the Wall Street Journal. He added that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office didn't start examining his patent application until five years after it was first submitted because the agency is dealing with a massive backlog of patent applications.

So what does the new patent mean for rivals Gaikai and Otoy? OnLive may be in a position to sue the two networks for patent infringement. According to VentureBeat, Perlman declined to comment on the company's intentions, but seemed willing to work out an agreement. OnLive investors-- including Warner Bros, Autodesk, AT&T and more-- may choose differently.

Earlier this month OnLive launched a $99 dedicated "console" that receives the cloud-based gaming service for digital and analog TVs. As of this writing, an iPad "viewer" is available to download and install, allowing owners to spectate OnLive gaming sessions-- the android version is currently in beta.

OnLive is expected to launch a movie streaming service next year using the same cloud-based network it uses to deliver high-quality, high-performance games.

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  • hellwig
    Huh, too bad this guy had to wait an extra 5 years because so many other companies are filing B.S. patents over thinks like "One Click Purchasing", "Using the Internet to Download Files", "Using a Phone to Take Pictures", "Using 3,4,5,6 7 Fingers for multi-touch tracking", etc etc...

    I'm hoping this guy got a patent on the technology he uses to handle running PC games on server architectures, mass rendering, and streaming of that content in real time, and not simply the concept of "Allowing people to play games online", which would be B.S. itself. As for suing other companies offering the same service, that's a bad idea. Not only are they not worth anything, you want to grow the market, not shrink it. Merge with those companies rather than eliminate. You need their customer base.

    It's like Serius/XM. There weren't enough subscribers for 2 satellite radio companies, so merge into one. There aren't enough customers for streaming video games, so merge into one.
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  • joytech22
    This is stupid, their service isn't even available in other countries like New Zealand or Australia, so that patent could prevent other companies from starting in other countries..
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  • znegval
    If the concept of streaming games in real time already made me think if it was worth it, now I'm pretty sure it's not. They've been granted a legal monopoly that's gonna last pretty much forever. Guaranteed to having pricier subscriptions and less quality of service than it would have if a competitor showed up at some point.
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