Game streaming service OnLive is without much doubt an early vision of the future of the gaming industry, but in a mess of business maneuverings and layoffs, the actual company OnLive shut down for good today — only to be replaced by an as-yet-unnamed replacement company that will continue to offer more or less the same service.
It’s all rather complicated, but the gist of it is that OnLive’s investors and executives achieved a modest exit (that is, they cashed out on their investments in the company) by filing for a bankruptcy-like legal action that had the side effect of eliminating the company as we know it now and laying off almost all of its staff.
That caused a frenzy among fans and business, gaming, and tech bloggers this afternoon, but after hours of silence the executives of OnLive emailed out a press statement saying that all of OnLive’s assets have been sold to a newly formed, well-funded company that will re-employ “a large percentage” of the previous OnLive employees.
However, there are quotes at Kotaku and GamePolitics from employees who are not at all expecting to be hired back, and TechCrunch suggests that the layoffs were performed to make the new company more attractive to whoever its new investors or acquirers are.
It’s an ugly situation and a primer on startup politics, but digital gamers can take this as a walkaway: For now, OnLive isn’t going anywhere, you’ll still have access to at least some (if not all) of your games in the coming months, and game streaming model for the future is most definitely not dead.
To that last point, the streaming model is looking better than ever with the recent acquisition of OnLive competitor Gaikai by Sony. Sony hasn’t said what it plans to do with Gaikai’s technology and staff, but when The Interactive interviewed Sony SVP Scott Rohde about the PlayStation brand, he told us that digital is the inevitable future of Sony and of the industry as a whole.
Whether that means downloads or streaming is still unclear, but we’ll still bet you that streaming is as much a contender as ever to become that inevitable model of the future.