What is Playstation Now?
Last month at the Consumer Electronics Show, Sony announced their plans to launch a new cloud based service called Playstation Now. Playstation Now will be a streaming service similar to Netflix or Hulu, only for playing older video game titles. The service, which goes into beta later this month, will allow customers to play Playstation 3 games on a number of Sony devices including Sony branded televisions, the Playstation Vita, the Playstation 3 and 4 as well as third-party tablets and phones.
The technology stems from the 2012 acquisition of Gaikai. The company was working high end, cloud based streaming for games that would allow players to bypass the need for a new console. Instead, all players would essentially need is a device with a screen, a Playstation controller and a beefy internet connection.
What does it mean for the future of the Playstation Brand?
Playstation Now allows software that was once only playable on a specific piece of hardware to find new life and thrive on more common, everyday devices. The fact that a game like 2013’s Playstation exclusive “The Last of Us” can now be played on an iPad, a smart TV or handheld gives Sony more chances to capitalize on the success of their franchises. Gamers will be able to play Sony’s games without having to commit to buying a $400 console.
Plans for the future with this technology?
As of right now, Sony has only showed select Playstation 3 games streaming through the cloud. With the Playstation 4 featuring no backwards compatibility out of the box, Now is the perfect way to alleviate this. After the initial releases, it is a no brainer for Sony to start adding legacy titles from the Playstation 1 and 2 to the service.
Even further down the line, if Now really picks up this generation, Sony could do away with hardware completely and focus on streaming their titles over devices. While other services like OnLive have experimented with a similar idea, none of them had the clout of the Playstation brand to back them up. It’s safe to say that if Playstation can’t do it, then no one can.
How is Microsoft planning to compete?
It can be assumed that the competition is watching the launch of Playstation Now closely. Microsoft has already revealed that they plan to use cloud technology for the Xbox One. But instead of a streaming service, they want to use the cloud for processing information that would usually be done by the hardware. This means that games can rely on the cloud for additional perks for the performance of games on their platform. This can mean anything from better graphics to faster load times.
If Playstation Now does manage to become the PS4’s shortcut to having backwards compatibility, expect Microsoft to start looking into ways to get Xbox 360 games up and running on Xbox One.
What are some of the drawbacks?
As great as PS Now is looking, there are still a few questions and shortcomings that have to be figured out. Streaming a game means a lot more information is being processed back and forth between the servers and the user compared to other, more passive streaming services like Netflix. Naturally a lot more Bandwidth is going to be needed. In smaller countries like Japan, internet speeds are lightning fast being it doesn’t have to cover much distance. In America on the other hand, some gamers maybe be dozens of miles away from the closest data center (the “cloud” where the raw computing is occurring). Users with slow internet speeds will experience a delay between their actions and what’s happening on screen. Whether or not that latency will inhibit the ability to play the games will be something that gamers will have to find out on the service launches.
Playstation Now will launch as a full product sometime before September 30.