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Reaction: PlayStation Now Clears the Cloud on Sony's Vision of the Future

Posted by Sammy Barker

Positive outlook

Sony has a vision. The embattled manufacturer has gone through a torrid time of late, and has found itself muscled out of the markets that it helped to pioneer as a result – but it’s clear that under the leadership of former PlayStation president Kaz Hirai, it’s found (to use an old cliché) a man with a plan. There was a confidence to the executive’s keynote today that demonstrated just why the company has placed so much faith in him, and we’re beginning to understand his ambitious outlook on the future.

Back when he was appointed CEO in April 2012, one of the Ridge Racer aficionado’s first tasks was to devise a rescue strategy for the beleaguered and unfocused firm. His solution centred on the idea of unification, a concept that he dubbed ‘One Sony’. Hirai suggested that in order for the ailing organisation to recapture its former glories, it first needed to leverage all of its strengths. We’ve since started to see the nuggets of that operation, with Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited built upon the foundations of the PlayStation Network, and a greater sense of unison between the giant’s colossal roster of different divisions.

However, it’s clear that the idea of ‘One Sony’ expands beyond improved corporate communication. When the company purchased Gaikai for $380 million a couple of months into the former music mogul’s reign, many pondered why the outfit had made such a significant investment when it was facing such dire financial straits. That’s a quandary that wasn’t really answered until today, with the unveiling of cloud streaming service PlayStation Now providing the bandwidth-heavy retort: ubiquity.

Kaz Hirai’s vision is to deliver and centralise your entire entertainment life across a suite of hardware platforms that apply to various different scenarios

Group gaffer Andrew House explained that the goal for the platform holder's latest innovation is to ensure that your games are accessible wherever you are, on whatever hardware that you have available. The on-demand gaming library will start life on systems such as the PlayStation 4 and Vita, but will eventually expand to tablets, smartphones, and Bravia televisions. It will allow you to access a catalogue of content derived from the lineups of three critically acclaimed consoles, with options to rent software or subscribe. And according to early reports from the CES showfloor, the functionality is already running efficiently under controlled conditions.

There are flaws, of course. Despite the surprise announcement that the platform holder will be rolling out a public beta this month in North America, there’s no sign that the solution will be expand to European shores anytime soon. The firm has cautioned that there are real infrastructural issues around the continent that are resulting in a number of obstructions in its plans, but that it’s working hard to bring the service to the “region as quickly as possible”. The fact that it’s not shying away from the product without any real public roadmap suggests that it’s determined to solve the setbacks.

And that’s acceptable, because this is clearly the company’s vision of the future. The service may be dubbed PlayStation Now in reference to its immediacy, but really it’s much more a snapshot of PlayStation Tomorrow. As the abovementioned issues evidence, we’re not there yet, but it’s obvious that Sony sees a time in which its gaming brand will not exist as a sleek black box beneath your television, but as an application on your smartphone and a tab on your tablet computer. And it’s there that it will sit alongside all of your favourite movies, music, and television shows, on-demand whenever you want to access them.

Is it a pipedream? Possibly – but five or six years ago, we never imagined that the majority of our television consumption would stem from streaming platforms such as Netflix, the BBC iPlayer, and more. Kaz Hirai’s vision is to deliver and centralise your entire entertainment life across a suite of hardware platforms that apply to various different lifestyle scenarios. And as one of the pillars of the executive’s ‘One Sony’, the PlayStation brand represents a pivotal part of that. It’s a somewhat idealistic interpretation of the future, but the switch to cloud-based content is inevitable irrespective of the provider. If the Japanese company can spearhead that transition over the coming years, then it may just be in a position to recapture the triumphs of its glory days.


Do you agree that PlayStation Now hints at a future whereby Sony’s gaming brand lives exclusively online, or do you think that it’s merely an endeavour to profit off legacy content? Do you find all of the streaming chatter a bit harrowing, or are you eager for an on-demand future? Stump up your subscription fee in the comments section below.

What are your initial impressions of PlayStation Now? (56 votes)

The idea of on-demand software appeals to me greatly

43%

I like the concept, but need to know more

48%

I’m still not convinced that this is actually going to work

9%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (32)

WickedKnightAl

#1

WickedKnightAl said:

The idea of allowing rentals alongside a subscription-based model is intriguing to me. I'm excited to hear more about this system.

BornOfEvil

#2

BornOfEvil said:

"but it’s obvious that Sony sees a time in which its gaming brand will not exist as a sleek black box beneath your television, but as an application on your smartphone and a tab on your tablet computer."

That part made me a little sad but other than that, I'm all for PlayStation Now.

ShogunRokAdmin

#3

ShogunRok said:

It's a potentially game-changing plan, but we'll need to see if it works. There are so many factors that could put people off - namely actual service performance and, of course, how expensive the subscription will be. Looking forward to hearing more, though.

get2sammybAdmin

#4

get2sammyb said:

@BornOfEvil It's a long way away, but I think that's the long-term goal here. Why would you need the box when your Bravia will include everything that you need built-in?

Cowboysfan-22

#5

Cowboysfan-22 said:

I would definitely be interested if it's affordable like netflix. The next thing I want to know is the price. Hopefully it's not a crazy number. This would solve the backwards compatibility issue

TasukiStaff

#6

Tasuki said:

I have to say I am a bit confused with the rental and subscription base. So can you pay for a certain amount of time to play a game or choose a sub like Netflix?

Personally I wish they would do something like Onlive where you can either rent a game or purchase each game individually. That way I can try a games I am on the fence with and if I like them purchase them later.

irken004

#8

irken004 said:

@divinelite once the technology and internet speeds bumps up, why bother buying consoles anymore when you could stream games through a TV or other device? I'd imagine it'd reduce the cost to the consumers at least.

iSolipsistJudas

#9

iSolipsistJudas said:

I read in another article that 5mbps needs to be the minimum...but I think on average most of the US runs on 3mbps. I live in the city & the max I get is 3mbps and this is without cable.

Dodoo

#11

Dodoo said:

I have to say I love the concept of PS Now but considering I work with data feeds at work and see first hand latency issues, it makes me wonder how they intend to get around it with gaming.

Where physical distance remains between source and end user, so does lag.

Gamer83

#15

Gamer83 said:

@divinelite

With the exception of Nintendo this seems to be where the industry is headed. All digital and service based on multiple machines. Even if the PS4, X1 and Wii U manage to combine to outsell their last-gen counterparts, we very well could be looking at the start of the end of consoles with PS Now. Depressing but it is what it is. I'm still not sold one way or the other that is a good or bad thing. That is all on Sony and MS showing me why I should want gaming to go this route. The next few years will be interesting indeed.

Itachi

#16

Itachi said:

This is gonna be huge for Sony. While it's innovative to gamers the fact that it will eventually branch off to other forms of hardware makes it very ambitious. When you think about Netflix you can use Netflix on anything: TV, Computer, Tablet, Phones, Consoles, etc. very easily. With PlayStation Now you can literally have PlayStation everywhere you go just like Netflix, and don't even need a PlayStation console. This is especially great for people who travel a lot and don't have the room to pack up a console but still wanna get their gaming fix.

It's funny they announced this because it was only a couple days ago that I was thinking about some of the games I miss on PS1 and PS2 and the ones I never had a chance to play on PS3. Now their offering a service for just that. And it makes perfect sense when you factor in Apples App store just made 10 billion for 2013, now Sony can kind of pinch into that market a little by now having a service that can even run on ipads and iphones. One thing I think this will do is lure in a lot more casuals depending on the price and how Sony markets this, maybe even throw in a DS3 to sweeten the deal.

Spidernoir

#17

Spidernoir said:

"Why buy the console when you can just buy the TV"

I'd say cost and technology plays a factor.

You'd rather get the console, as that's the best experience, as Sony said.
Probably because the service was created primarily for the PS4 and Vita.

TV streaming is good, but probably not as good as a game device that is created to do that.

Not to mention most people who own a PS4/PS3 probably already have an HDTV, so why buy another TV just to stream games ?

I see the TV bit targeted more towards the causal market.

Gamer83

#18

Gamer83 said:

@Itachi

If they throw in a controller it should be the vastly superior DS4. That would really sweeten the deal.

Itachi

#19

Itachi said:

@Gamer83 Your right. If they did that by adding a DS4, that would also work as bait and tempt casuals to later buy a PS4. I'm really curious to see how Sony will go about this. Considering they throw in a DS3 with Vita TV it's not that far fetched and DS3 is much cheaper for them to build.

eLarkos

#20

eLarkos said:

I really hope its not tied to sony only products. I would buy a ps4 because its the best game console. I stay the hell away from Bravia tv's because, well...

Same goes for their smartphones.

get2sammybAdmin

#23

get2sammyb said:

@Subie98 @eLarkos Something like this would be the differentiator, though, right? I think they've hinted that this would work on iOS and Android, however, so they probably have multiple products in mind. We'll see.

eLarkos

#24

eLarkos said:

@get2sammyb The differentiator for sure. Still sucks for people who want the best with the best. Im sure Sony have analysed the costs and benefits a heck of a lot more than I have.

charlesnarles

#25

charlesnarles said:

So glad I live in Vid'ya Game 'Merica. Where the bandwidth flows like corn syrup and even the cigarettes are 'lectric.

KAPADO

#26

KAPADO said:

Nothing but cold bluray must run through Kaz's veins.
The North Remembers

TosserHan

#27

TosserHan said:

If this works out I'd imagine M$,Big N saying something along the line's of ohhh **** we're screwed:-)

Subie98

#28

Subie98 said:

@get2sammyb eh, they need to improve their cell phones, along with their tv picture quality drastically before I would ever buy either of them.

Carl-G

#29

Carl-G said:

SONY just need a better Network now really because over Christmas time PSN was cr*p really :-/ & it will be even more cr*p once everyone starts using this service. Saying that PSN has been Ok for me because i hardly game online much :D

-CraZed-

#30

-CraZed- said:

@BornOfEvil Don't be. Sony is hedging its bets here but after the PS4's very successful launch I think they are more committed to the PS console more than ever. I think that PS Now and the any device concept will be their Trojan Horse that actually helps sell gaming hardware and keeps the PS brand alive and well for at least a few more generations.

BornOfEvil

#31

BornOfEvil said:

@Subie98 Have you not seen the Xperia Z Ultra or the new Sony Bravia TV with TRILUMINOUS display? Not even their new TV'S, I have an older Bravia and it's picture quality is amazing.

@-CraZed- I understand what Sony's plan is, but I'm thinking about my descendants who won't get to experience the joy that comes with unboxing a brand new PlayStation.

PlayStation Now is a great idea and could help convert smartphone gamers to the PlayStation brand.

-CraZed-

#32

-CraZed- said:

Oh I completely understand where you are coming from which is why I was saying that Sony's current philosophy of inclusion of more devices through its streaming service will encourage stronger sales for not only their mobile devices etc. but their consoles as well. So I think you'll get to see those cherished unboxing moments in the future ;)

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