Sony Reveals “Playstation Now” Cloud Gaming Service

Streaming technology will bring Sony back catalogue to entire Playstation family

PS Now

Sony has finally unveiled its plans for Gaikai, the online streaming service it acquired in July 2012. Rebranded “Playstation Now“, the technology allows gamers to stream interactive content to pretty much any device with an internet connection. The PS4 is currently able to stream games directly to the PS Vita over a Wi-Fi connection via remote play with no noticeable lag, but the next iteration of this service will allow global streaming to all platforms.

Playstation Now functions like an interactive Netflix or Spotify; the content is not stored locally, but is instead accessed remotely online. The games are run on a server that the software client accesses on-demand, with the quality of the stream being tailored to the bandwidth of the user. The only real requirement is a low-latency connection to the server, which will directly impact how responsive the game is. With a low enough latency you could, in theory, play The Last of Us on your mobile phone without any noticeable lag – Sony has been demoing the technology with this title today at CES2014.

It probably wouldn’t make for a very engaging experience on a mobile platform – you certainly wouldn’t want to play fast paced beat-em-ups or twitch based shooters – but being able to enjoy PS3 games on-the-go with your Vita sounds very intriguing. The service will also make the PS4 backwards compatible, allowing you access Sony’s back catalogue on-demand.

There’s no word yet on pricing or even whether the service will be subscription based. Sony is planning to launch a closed beta this month in the US, which will allow it to begin stress testing its server farms. It will also allow it to gauge current broadband speeds across its user install base – the only potential stumbling block to reaching a global audience.

Having tried out OnLive’s streaming service back in 2011, I can attest to the technology’s potential. With a relatively fast internet connection, I was able to play modern games like Batman and Assassin’s Creed on an aging netbook, enjoying HD visuals and minimal input lag with mouse and keyboard.

The key for Sony will be content. If they introduce an affordably priced subscription model which allows Playstation fans to replay their favourite titles from past generations, they can plough that money back into the service and continue to invest in their infrastructure.

In the original PS4 reveal last year Sony also alluded a demo streaming service which would allow gamers to try current gen titles before they buy. This would make active downloads a thing of the past. No more waiting for games to install.

This new service really opens up the Playstation platform, offering so may possibilities. Play Skyrim or Mass Effect on-the-go with Vita? Enjoy Red Dead or Dark Souls on your PS4? Test out the latest games at launch without having to  download demos? We could technically enjoy PS4 games on the PS3. The possibilities are endless.

What are you most looking forward to experiencing with Playstation Now?

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