LiquidSky is no longer operating a closed beta. The streaming service announced over the weekend that anyone with a compatible Windows PC is free to download the new beta 2.0 client, which includes access to its newly upgraded hardware infrastructure.
In case this is the first you're hearing of LiquidSky, it's a cloud streaming game service that picks up where OnLive left off. You can think of it as sort of a Netflix for games. As of last September, it had half a million people testing the service in a private beta.
It was also in last September that LiquidSky secured $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.
"At this time we’d like to apologize profusely for our delays. While we intended on releasing much sooner, unfortunately circumstances did not allow us to do so. However, we’d like thank the community for their patience and support, as without our users, the future of cloud gaming would have never been possible," LiquidSky states in a blog post.
Now available as a beta 2.0 release, the new version of LiquidSky boasts upgraded virtual PCs and new streaming plans. The service uses a virtual currency called SkyCredits to lease a PC in the cloud. You can earn free SkyCredits by watching ads or pay for them via subscription plans.
Watching a 30-second ad earns you up to 40 SkyCredits, and you can collect up to 180 free SkyCredits per day. Alternatively, there are both pay-as-you-go plans and monthly subscriptions available. Pay-as-you-go plans break down as follows:
- $5: 720 SkyCredits, up to 12 hours of gaming
- $10: 1,500 SkyCredits, up to 25 hours of gaming
- $20: 3,150 SkyCredits, up to 52 hours of gaming
- $30: 6,000 SkyCredits, up to 100 hours of gaming
- $50: 10,000 SkyCredits, up to 165 hours of gaming
- $100: 22,500 SkyCredits, up to 375 hours of gaming
All of the above plans come with 100GB of storage and email support. Unused credits at the end of the month roll over to the next, though only once.
There are also three subscription plans. They include:
- $10/month: 2,400 SkyCredits, up to 40 hours of gaming
- $20/month: 5,000 SkyCredits, up to 83 hours of gaming
- $40/month: 10,500 SkyCredits, up to 175 hours of gaming
Subscription plans up the ante to 500GB of storage and priority support. Either way, users can still earn up to 180 SkyCredits per day by watching ads.
There used to be an unlimited plan available to subscribers, but citing abuse, LiquidSky kicked it to the curb when it concocted its new tiers.
SkyCredits can be spent on three different levels of hardware as shown above. The cheapest option runs one SkyCredit per minute with LiquidSky promising 30 frames per second or higher at 1080p.
While the new beta 2.0 release is available to all Windows PC users, you will have to wait before trading any earned SkyCredits in for play time. Availability is staggered and based on a "Boarding Group" system. Currently, Boarding Groups 01-01 can begin playing right away. When I downloaded the client and registered today, it assigned me to Boarding Group DC41-01, which it says will be called in the near future.
The waiting period is for freeloaders only. If you're willing to fork over funds for SkyCredits, you can start playing right away.
LiquidSky's minimum required specs are not very demanding. Windows PC owners need to be running Windows 7 or later on a system with 2GB of RAM, 250MB of storage, and integrated graphics.
Down the road, LiquidSky will open up access to Android and Mac systems.
You can download LiquidSky here.