LiquidSky raises $4 million in funding for ambitious cloud gaming platform

Picking up where OnLive stalled.

Remember when OnLive promised to revolutionize gaming with a cloud streaming service similar to Netflix, but for games, not movies? Things didn't quite work out, though the concept of cloud gaming still might if a startup called LiquidSky has anything to say about it.

LiquidSky has been flying under the radar with a service it's been testing in private beta, which now has 500,000 users participating. Those tests must be going well because it just raised $4 million in a series of seed rounds led by Samsung Global Innovation Center, Sun Microsystems founder Scott McNealy, and former Sun Microsystems and AOL-Time Warner executive Bill Raduchel.

"We are thrilled to have secured the confidence and financial backing of Samsung Global Innovation Center, as well as technology pioneers Scott McNealy and Bill Raduchel," said Ian McLoughlin, LiquidSky CEO. "Beyond their financial support that will help us scale and grow our infrastructure, their industry know-how is invaluable in helping LiquidSky remain at the bleeding edge of cloud computing."

What LiquidSky has up its sleeve is a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform that supposedly isn't affected by the issues that plagued OnLive. The service lets you play demanding titles on a relatively modest PC or mobile device. The game itself runs in the cloud and is streamed to the user.

"There’s no need to buy expensive hardware to play the latest PC AAA games or run performance-intensive applications. Just borrow the computing power you need from us," LiquidSky pitches.  

The two biggest issues that OnLive faced were high latency and high costs. Back in August, McLoughlin explained that OnLive was ahead of its time in that regard. He explained to VentureBeat that scaling to support lots of players was a pricey proposition—it required a graphics card in every server to support a single user when OnLive debuted. But now a single Nvidia graphics card can support 128 users on a cloud service.

LiquidSky says it has a handle on high latency and high costs, along with two other problems that have plagued other cloud-based gaming services, those being limited scalability and a finite catalog of supported games.

"Gamers can play any PC title nearly anywhere, anytime on Android, Mac, Linux or even low-spec Windows PC devices via their very own cloud-based 'SkyComputer'—a dedicated high-spec Windows gaming PC with up to a terabyte of online storage," LiquidSky says. LiquidSky customers may download and play any PC game or high-performance application they choose from any leading digital distribution portal, including Steam, BattleNet, Uplay, Origin, and many others. If a game or application runs on Windows, LiquidSky supports it!"

LiquidSky follows a pay-as-you-go model. Customers purchase SkyCredits that run $0.50 each and typically offer a hour of game play. There's a minimum purchase of 10 SkyCredits if going that route.

There are also subscription plans that run $15 per month for 500GB of storage and 80 hours of game play, or $40 per month for 1TB of storage and unlimited play time.

LiquidSky still isn't saying when it plans to launch to the public. In the meantime, you can request beta access on its website.

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