A FEW YEARS BACK there was a growing trend for the concept of streaming video games. The idea was that games would be piped, like Netflix or Spotify, from remote high-end PCs sometimes half a world away, and a few companies emerged to try to make it a business model.
The results didn't hold up to scrutiny, as any Streetfighter or Dirt Rally fan will tell you, with Sony eventually acquiring Gaikai, which has now been absorbed into PlayStation Now - a service mainly used to stream between consoles but also available in a select few US-based Bravia TVs.
OnLive wasn't so lucky. Founded in 2007, by 2012 it was selling off its assets for $4.8m, thinning its staff out and trying to find a way to reposition itself in a market that didn't want it.
After ex-Dell engineer Bruce Grove became OnLive's general manager for Europe in 2011, with a Europe-wide rollout plan to try and turn the company's fortunes around, the pared-down service was eventually acquired by Sony in 2015 and almost immediately closed for good, apparently just to kill it as a possible competitor (and potentially to grab a few patents).
Now Grove is back as co-founder and CEO of Polystream, a company that's trying the exact same thing again. Even though it's been around since 2015, Polystream only announced funding from London Venture Partners and Initial Capital today.
But will $1.5m be enough to put right OnLive's mistakes right and build a customer base for games streaming? The INQUIRER asked Grove why he thinks there's a market for streaming games services after OnLive got buried.
"There's always been a market for streaming game services, but they've been held back by crazy operating costs, which in turn has limited their ability to meaningfully scale," he said, citing a past inability to scale the platform which in turn provides no incentive for publishers to get behind the service.
To avoid cannibalising existing channels for games platforms, Polystream has evolved the technology and the business model, according to Grove.
He seems to mean that Polystream is placing its faith in an intuitive solution that feels something like Twitch or YouTube when in use.
It's something that "will get people from simply watching reviews to instantly interacting with content", he said.
"And we're doing it at a scale and cost that's interesting to the publishers and developers. Polystream will inform how the next generation receive and engage with content."
Big words, Mr Grove, although we'll keep our chunky gaming boxes stashed under our tellies for just a little longer, thanks. µ
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