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Talking Point: Sony's Gaikai Acquisition Hints at a Bright Future

Posted by Sammy Barker

Blue sky thinking

One recurring criticism has noticeably been fired at Sony throughout the entire span of this console generation; that the Japanese manufacturer has forgotten how to lead. The once thoughtful electronics giant responsible for innovations such as the Walkman and PlayStation has arguably spent too long in its competitor’s shadows. Quality aside, game specific products like the PlayStation Move and even PlayStation Network serve to support that particular mindset.

But, alongside hierarchical and philosophical movement within the company, there are signs that things are starting to change. For the gaming division in particular, that begins with Sony's acquisition of cloud gaming service Gaikai for $380 million.

This morning’s announcement was surprising for a handful of reasons. Despite recurring speculation regarding Sony’s involvement with a cloud gaming company leading into E3, the company went through the entire show without ever touching upon the technology. Gaikai founder Dave Perry then contributed to the silence, outright denying that the company was working with Sony in a post-show interview. While the deal probably wasn’t signed at the time, we have to imagine the wheels were in motion, so it's clear that an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) was in place.

But regardless of the specifics, it’s not the acquisition itself that’s so interesting, but the undeniably exciting precedent that it sets. For the first time since the introduction of the EyeToy, arguably, Sony may have its foot firmly in front of its competitors. Cloud gaming might be at least a decade away from replacing on-disc delivery mechanisms, but the buyout assures PlayStation will be at the forefront of that transition.

And what an exciting transition it could become. The industry is currently awash with theories discussing the specifics of the takeover’s intent: it’s no secret that Sony has been piling resources into its digital services for years now, and cloud gaming looks likely to be the glue that pulls it all together. The company has already united its audio and movie businesses under the Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited brands – and now it looks poised to invite PlayStation into the mix.

Considering the sheer wealth of intellectual property that Sony owns, a united entertainment network sounds like a thrilling prospect. Furthermore, the philosophy scales perfectly to company president Kaz Hirai’s recently revealed “One Sony” ambition. This is a conglomerate finally being forced to work in harmony.

But beyond the corporate implications, the acquisition also holds numerous salivating prospects for gamers: in fact, the possibilities are seemingly endless. The idea of fully functioning remote play on Vita and complete catalogue backwards compatibility across multiple devices is no longer a pipe-dream, but instead a very realistic possibility.

That doesn’t, however, mean that it’s right around the corner. Sony has yet to outline its plans for cloud gaming, and we doubt it will be detailing anything specific in the immediate future. The technology has undeniable bottlenecks rooted in the slow evolution of global Internet infrastructure, and the company will have dived into the deal fully aware of the setbacks.

This is a move for the future, then; an announcement that says more about where PlayStation’s headed than where it is today. But for the first time in over half-a-decade, it shows the company at its innovative best. It’s not responding to what Microsoft and Nintendo are doing, but instead dictating its own direction. That’s exciting, and it sets a fascinating precedent for the beginning of Kaz Hirai’s new reign.

What’s your opinion on Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai? Are you excited by the potential of cloud gaming? Let us know in the comments below.

User Comments (7)



Squiggle55 said:

please give me a future where I can rent games for a day straight from my console. very exciting possibilities.



stealth said:

Its a good move only if they dont screw it up themselves

You cannot replace a console or physical games with this

You cannot replace in store presence with this

You cannot charge extra for this

BC is not rebuying old games on psn through cloud

You cannot make the vita a stream player

You cannot allow the ps3 to stream ps4 games unless you want to cripple the ps4

The only way its successful is if its an option and nothing more

We will see how smart or dumb sony is

streaming will NEVER replace physical ever



get2sammyb said:

@stealth It probably will replace physical one day, but I do agree with the sentiments of your post. For now, I think this will be very much supplementary.



shingi_70 said:

Cant wait to see what happens. Hopefully they can inplment it in current gen for a netlfix style system for ps3 and vita.

I do think this is going to make nintendo the odd man out again unless they buy onlive. Sony has bought these guys and Microsoft has deep roots in cloud computing and has probably started taking that toward gaming.



Primecash said:

The next generation of gaming is going to be awesome. Where ever when ever gaming with high quality games is coming soon. Sony is going to produce less hardware and more content in the future. Sony is going to try and make their media and content more pervasive than Microsoft,Nintendo and Apple. This is a good plan and should work. Content is always more expensive than hardware. Sony is selling all the forms of entertainment content from sports to gaming to movies and music. Sony's love for ever sector of the market may save their bacon. Streaming games on cell phones,tablets,pc's and tv's. Good buy Sony for imho.



BlueProxy said:

That would be great. They've already demonstrated it's possible with the 1 hour full game demos for PS+ subscribers. Just think if they opened it up for most games, and all triple-A titles. For example, 99 cents = 1 hour instant play, $2-3 for 24 hour rental, and if you buy full game, all that you spent on the rentals for that game get credited to the final price. I'd be all over that.

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