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Sony buys OnLive's patents; the service, and company, will shut down

OnLive was once a pioneer in game streaming. Now, after a crash and a rebirth, the company is ceasing operations entirely -- as Sony acquires its patent portfolio.

Today, OnLive and Sony announced that the console manufacturer has acquired the streaming tech company's U.S. and foreign patent portfolio and "certain patent-related assets."

In light of the fact that Sony is taking essentially everything of value from OnLive in the acquisition, the company will end its streaming services and shut down soon after.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Streaming pioneer OnLive launched its service in 2010, but never managed to hit critical mass or find a business model that worked. In 2012, all of the company's employees were laid off and its assets were sold to an investor who later reformed the company and relaunched OnLive's services last year.

For its part, Sony acquired OnLive competitor Gaikai in 2012 and developed its technology into the PlayStation Now streaming service, which launched earlier this year and which streams PlayStation 3 games to Sony consoles, TVs, and Blu-ray players.

Interestingly, Gaikai CEO David Perry told the press in 2010 that he was "not concerned" with OnLive's patents on game streaming tech.

"These strategic purchases open up great opportunities for our gamers, and gives [sic] Sony a formidable patent portfolio in cloud gaming. It is yet another proof point that demonstrates our commitment to changing the way gamers experience the world of PlayStation," Philip Rosenberg, SCE's VP of Global Business Development and SCEA's SVP of Business Development and Publisher Relations, said in a statement.

What remains of OnLive? Not much. A spokesperson told Gamasutra that the company retains its trademarks, copyrights, and product designs.

Alongside this announcement, the company is immediately discontinuing new signups for its streaming services, which still function but will cease entirely on April 30. Anyone who paid for a subscription on or after March 28 will receive a refund. OnLive will wind down and entirely cease operations soon after the shut-down date.

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