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OnLive Patents Cloud-Based PC Gaming

By - Source: Big Download | B 34 comments

This could could be a sign of bad times to come for hardware manufacturers and retailers.

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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  • 2 Hide
    hellwig , December 15, 2010 8:56 PM
    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.
  • -2 Hide
    joytech22 , December 15, 2010 9:17 PM
    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..
  • 2 Hide
    znegval , December 15, 2010 9:18 PM
    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.
  • 5 Hide
    Von Death , December 15, 2010 9:38 PM
    Well at least they blocked the guy who tried to patent fire...
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , December 15, 2010 9:40 PM
    Tried it, Lagged considerably, even on a 30mb connection with 6 up. heh, Far from worth even demoing. I'll stick with hardcopies and Steam >_
  • 7 Hide
    megahustler , December 15, 2010 9:45 PM
    It will be interesting to see how this works out. OnLive doesn't require a high-end PC, which many gamers in the US have, while it does require a good Internet connection, which many people in the US don't have - and can't easily get.

    I think the traditional game supply chain can sleep easy for the time being.
  • 4 Hide
    Vladislaus , December 15, 2010 10:16 PM
    joytech22This 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..

    This patent is only valid in the USA.
  • 2 Hide
    chickenhoagie , December 15, 2010 10:41 PM
    Why in the hell would they allow a single company to patent cloud based PC gaming..Jeeze. Some people are so money hungry its not even funny. And besides that, how can anyone in the US utilize cloud based PC gaming with the average ISP downstream speed for consumers being 1Mbps and upload 500Kbps? Thats completely useless. And even as someone said above, it lagged terribly with a 30Mbps download and 5Mbps upload, which is way higher than the average connection for consumers across the US. Maybe force ISP's to bump us up to all fiber connections, or at least 1Gbps speeds, then people will actually be able to utilize this service. Even then, all the hiccups involved in online activity that occur, people will constantly complain how their gaming experience is being completely shot. It'd be like everyone in the US experiencing blue screen of deaths 20 times a day while playing their games. that'd be terrible.
  • 0 Hide
    mister g , December 15, 2010 10:43 PM
    megahustlerIt will be interesting to see how this works out. OnLive doesn't require a high-end PC, which many gamers in the US have, while it does require a good Internet connection, which many people in the US don't have - and can't easily get.I think the traditional game supply chain can sleep easy for the time being.

    Good point, and if the average internet speed gets any faster how much do you think the game sellers have to pay to cough cough stifle the competition. (Look at Comcast and BitTorrent)
  • 0 Hide
    stingstang , December 15, 2010 11:05 PM
    @All: If cloud computing is going to lag, then it won't work. According to our insider, current high-end connections will lag, so stop b!tching about how they're going to take all the business. I'll still be using my computer if it lags less.
  • 2 Hide
    kronos_cornelius , December 15, 2010 11:13 PM
    The idea of OnLive has plenty of skeptics. I am in the fence, since the conditions against its success may disappear over the next decade ( bandwidth, latency).

    But now OnLive has to also be carefull on how it handles that patent. If the gaming ecosystem they are about to create is too proprietary, very few developers will risk making software for it because they may fear OnLive will eat their lunch in the future (think Microsft with office applications in the 90's). On the other hand, if they make an open standard, and license the patent to the competition (like Intel to AMD), they may be able to grow a new computer sector.

    With only passing knowledge of the patent, I think the patent has a ground to stand on. I've though about the approach myself (from the Grid Computing perspective) about 3 years ago, but certainly did not have the confidence to pursue it. Pursuing something instead of just think about it, in the end, should and is worth money.
  • -1 Hide
    coldtortilla , December 15, 2010 11:14 PM
    Let's see how long it takes this company to die!!!! gaming pc's FTW!!!!
  • 2 Hide
    gsacks , December 15, 2010 11:18 PM
    There are a lot of patent trolls out there, but this definitely is a valid patent. OnLive absolutely did something different, and turned the online gaming model on its head. I personally haven't used the service, but that is only because I don't game that much anymore. And no, it does not create a monopoly. There are plenty of other ways to play games both offline and online. But this is a model that allows you to do it with minimal hardware investment, and that is deserving of patent protection. Without the patent, Onlive could be muscled out by MS or Sony, or any number of other tech giants. And, unlike copyrights, patents do actually run out.
  • 1 Hide
    eklipz330 , December 16, 2010 12:59 AM
    10 years too early

    their recent new payment plan tells me they are suffering... but if they penetrate the tablet market, its freakin over, they're gonna rule the competition
  • 0 Hide
    FloKid , December 16, 2010 1:06 AM
    Once they support 1080p and 3D i'll start paying for it.
  • 1 Hide
    Leftbranch , December 16, 2010 1:30 AM
    Even if OnLive doesn't make it, someone will buy up their IP rights in the 3 to 5 years that it might take for this technology to be viable, and then we have a whole new Rambus company suing everyone for minor infractions. I think the gaming community just lost a big fight on this one.
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , December 16, 2010 3:04 AM
    God, invented cloud gaming? What next? If I put together a PMP, Phone and a Toaster would I have invented a smartphone that toasts buns?
  • 0 Hide
    rantoc , December 16, 2010 6:17 AM
    They will perish i guess, the internet isn't just up to it yet. There will be a day when steamed games will be the norm but that day isn't today!
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , December 16, 2010 6:32 AM
    hellwigHuh, 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.


    this guy deserves a patent, but here let me chime in on this one
    "Using 3,4,5,6 7 Fingers for multi-touch tracking"
    if there is a company that developed a way to use more than 2 fingers, and they want a patent on that tech, than they also deserve it, because if they make the tech, and it works should they allow others to have what they made for free? no, they should licences it out, and only make it free if they really want to. there is a reason multi touch only has 2 fingers, and it was hard to even get those 2 to play nice.
  • 1 Hide
    Travis Beane , December 16, 2010 8:02 AM
    The sound of my system fans and HDDs whirling away puts me to sleep at night. It's a noise I've listened to daily for years now. What will I do without it? :) 
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