Wednesday, January 08, 2014

CES 2014: Sony announces its PlayStation Now cloud gaming service

Call it PlayStation Now. Sony unveiled the "new" service at CES 2014 on Tuesday, and it promises to allow users to stream PS3 games to various devices, including PS4 and PS3 systems, followed by the PS Vita.

The service uses technology from Sony's 2012 Gaikai purchase, with PS Now being the new brand of the streaming service.

Sony added that, in addition to the above devices, non-PlayStation devices, beginning with 2014 BRAVIA TV models and expanding to "numerous" other Internet-connected devices. The company didn't get specific, but it sounds like the service might hit devices from other manufacturers, based on that statement.

The technology works -- or could work -- on nearly any device, including smartphones, because the games don't run locally, but rather on powerful servers in remote data centers which stream compressed video of that game running to an end users device.

The speed of the broadband connection is less important than the connection's latency. If the lag between you pressing a button (thus firing a gun, say), and the time when you see the on-screen result, needs to be as short as possible.

PlayStation Now will allow end users to:
  • Play video games instantly across multiple devices, similar to the way you might stream TV, movies, and music.
  • Stream full games to all of your compatible PlayStation devices including PS4, PS3, and PlayStation Vita as well as non-PlayStation devices, beginning with 2014 BRAVIA TV models and expanding to numerous other Internet-connected devices.
  • Always play the most updated version of your game. With games hosted in the cloud, you can take your game with you – just log in with your Sony Entertainment Network account on a compatible device and your games and saved progress will be easily available.
Users will be able to either rent a game on a per-title basis or opt-in to a subscription.

Sony said that PlayStation Now will start a Beta program in the U.S. at the end of January; an expected full roll-out in the U.S. will take place this summer.

Europe may have to wait a while for its rollout. Sony writes that it was "not quite ready to confirm launch plans for PAL territories" yet, adding:
When it comes to broadband provision, Europe is a considerably more complex region, with a huge number of different providers and varying connection speeds from country to country. In short, we need a little more time to ensure a smooth and successful roll-out.

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