Announced at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, Sony will soon be introducing a new approach in gaming. Beginning this year, Sony will be rolling out a method that will allow subscribers to play some of their greatest gaming hits without the use of a console. Amazing and yet disturbing news considering how many millions of people have just purchased PS4′s, outselling Microsoft Xbox One’s by a million units.
What Sony’s proposing is to being allowing their latest smart TVs, (2014 Sony Bravia), PS4′s, PS3′s and PSVita’s to stream back catalogue games through the cloud. We already know that Sony plunged heap loads of dollars, (the $380m acquisition of Gaikai in 2012) and man hours into developing their new cloud server system, we just didn’t know how vast their scope was in doing so. Now that it’s complete, Sony fully intends to take full advantage of its capabilities and plan on continuing to do so far into the future.
The initial roll out will be a US only, restricted test of the services beginning later this month with plans to begin a more expansive launch this summer. The Sony Bravia TVs will be the first devices utilizing this new service, but Sony also plans to open the market up to 3rd parties. While Sony has yet to provide many details as to what other platforms, such as smartphones, tablets, etc. will be able to access this fine new feature, Samsung, one of Sony’s chief rivals, has said that they plan on Partnering with Sony to allow their TVs to offer game access as well.
While it may seem disheartening to new PS4 owners, this is actually rather good news for them. Since the PS3 and PS4 use entirely different types of processors, the PS4 lacks backwards compatibility. This new option will now allow PS4 owners who subscribe to the service, the ability to run titles from the PS3′s library. Sorry, no word on titles dating farther back than that, but still good news. While some gamers may complain that they can no longer use their disks to play games they’ve already purchased on the latest hardware, Sony feels that by hosting their titles in the cloud, they can ensure that players will now have the benefit of having access to the latest and most up to date versions of the games they love.
With all this good news, there’s bound to be a catch or two, right? Of course there are. Sony is demoing the new service by showcasing titles such as The Last of US, God Of War: Ascension and Beyond: Two Souls. Currently, streaming games are set to play at a resolution of 720p, noticeably below that of the PS4 and at such, there is a noticeable lag between button presses and the onscreen corresponding actions. There’s also been talk of the graphics not being as crisp as they would be on a PS3, but this is streaming content, so it’s to be expected. While the graphics are a bit fuzzy, Sony recommends a minimum broadband connection speed of 5Mbps to fully enjoy this new gaming experience. I expect that games without intensive graphics will run faster and without much lag concerning button presses, but only time will tell.
Sony also states that games utilizing this system will be saved on their servers so subscribers will be able to pick up their saved game states on other devices. Guess they’re taking some clues from Steam. Players using these new game access methods will also be able to interact with others and have a fun multiplayer experience with those using PlayStation Now and those using disks, which is stupendous news. Not sure how well they’ll fare while playing FPS’, but hey, how much can you expect? To top it all off, Sony is going to help you save some money by offering both rental and purchase subscriptions with this new capability.
Once again, this is just another example of how we are truly living in the future and, as long as we don’t destroy ourselves first, life will continue to get better and better through the development of new technologies. Who knows, in the near future we may see the end of independent gaming consoles. For all I know, even PC’s may end up becoming obsolete. I personally hope not, but far be it from me to turn my back on progress.