PlayStation’s history is pocked with missed opportunities. Sony was first to the casual game boom with PlayStation 2 party games like SingStar and Buzz, but it allowed Nintendo to waltz in with the Wii and take that audience away. It was doing controller-less gaming long before anyone at Xbox had even uttered the words Project Natal, but the Kinect quickly stole the EyeToy’s thunder. And now history looks set to repeat itself: the industry is aflutter with chatter of Microsoft and Google, as the two tech giants appear poised to lock horns over our new streaming future. Meanwhile, the readily available PlayStation Now just rolled out in several new countries, but no one’s paying attention.
It’s entirely the Japanese giant’s fault, of course. Ever since purchasing Gaikai in mid-2012, it’s been resolute that it’s merely future-proofing, looking ahead to a time when we play all our games in the cloud. As recently as last month, Sony bigwig Hiroki Totoki declared that it will take “longer than five years” for physical hardware to be rendered obsolete. In truth, that’s likely an optimistic timeline, but with Google poised to announce its own gaming service imminently, and Xbox flaunting the potential of Project xCloud, it’s hard to shake the feeling that PlayStation is being left behind.
Which is absolutely mind-boggling because PlayStation Now has been available for several years now in certain territories and works reasonably well. We took another look at the service late last year when PlayStation 4 software downloads were added, and we ended up spending most of our time streaming because it works better than it has any right to. Yes, fluctuations in bandwidth can result in macroblocking and other image artefacting, and controller latency isn’t flawless – but the games are very playable. It’s undoubtedly impressive technology.
So why is Sony a footnote in this new streaming war? Given the scale and capacity of Microsoft and Google’s server farms, there seems to be a general sentiment that PlayStation simply can’t compete. The difference is that PlayStation Now is a functional, consumer product right now, whereas the competition is yet to actually deliver anything. It was possible to temporarily play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in the Google Chrome browser last year, and the feedback was generally good, but this was a limited test for a handful of participants – not a commercial release.
It just feels like PlayStation’s own efforts in this category are being forgotten, but it’s only got itself to blame. While the likes of Microsoft and Google are clearly looking to make streaming key components of their gaming businesses, Sony has pushed PlayStation Now out of the limelight, improving it slowly but allowing others to catch up. It’s possible that cloud-based gaming could become the latest industry fad to fizzle out, in which case the Japanese giant may have made a shrewd move, but should it really start to gain traction, then the platform holder could very quickly find itself playing catch-up – even though it was first to the market by a country mile.
Perhaps the most amusing thing here is that it’s so unsurprising. Sony has good ideas, but for every PlayStation VR there’s an EyeToy or SingStar or PlayStation Now. It rarely has the confidence in its own execution to see things through, and so it currently finds itself a footnote in the cloud-streaming race. A footnote, we’d hasten to add, with a working viable product available right now – but a footnote nonetheless.
Do you think that Sony is falling behind in the cloud gaming conversation? How has it managed to find itself in this position when it’s the only organisation with a working product at this moment in time? Do you think it’s making the right decision as streaming’s future seems uncertain? Test your Internet connection in the comments section below.
Simply put it was too expensive out of the gate for what it was and the library still isn't strong enough to consistently garner new subscriptions.
If Google announces their streaming service and it costs £15 a month for 2+ year old games then they'll get panned the same.
I'd love PS Now to be successful, but in my view it just doesn't represent anywhere near value for money.
or people just don't care about streaming.
sure microsoft and even google are investing more in that front,but who says they will do any better? again if the people don't care or simply can't due to poor internet then all the effort will be pointless.
and has it realy come to a point where the term streaming war is a thing?
why not focus on better frame rates etc instead of yet another leap in streaming.
it's just to early for it to be any meaningfull success.
It just to expensive especially hear in the uk. 12.99 is a joke , at 9.99 I might bite and think so would more.
Also would say well over 70% of the games aren't that great.
the price of ps now is just way too high in europe. if they can half the price i would be subscribed to it.
I gave PlayStation Now a second try late last year, just before they introduced downloads, and I really didn't like it. The image quality was poor. I have 350mbps Virgin fibre internet and even with that the macroblocking was awful.
I love the idea of streaming games and I hope it improves, but if the future of streaming games is like what Sony offers right now with PlayStation Now, I don't think it's good enough.
If PS now was more like game pass, all first party games day and date with retail release, then I would bite.
Game selection and cost will play a big role. The majority of the games on Now are PS3 games, with a handful of early gen PS4 games.
Now is also tied to PS4 hardware and Windows 10 is the only other option. It sounds like the others are trying to hit all platforms. Xbox showed this off working on a phone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thTW3GpyWVI
This combined with Xbox Game Pass would give you access to brand new MS games day one.
It seems like Google wants it everywhere as well: https://kotaku.com/heres-what-were-hearing-about-googles-plans-for-gaming-1833389082
If that is accurate, Google's service would allow you to watch a Twitch stream, then load a save file that the streamer was using and continue where they left off. Or immediately jump into a match with a streamer. Little details like that I think will make it or break it.
Now would have some work to do, and honestly I do not think it is worth it. Sony is great when it comes to dedicated hardware and stellar first party games, and I think they are best off sticking with that approach.
Sonys exclusives are doing great and are great unlike most of Microsoft's , this is one of the reasons there exclusives are their and after crackdown I think they are now made with game pass in mind , hence how poor the game is.
Doubt you would ever see a game the quality of God of war on game pass at launch.
It's simple. Sony is not as stupid as MS to kill their console by streaming.
@Jake3103 Just out of curiosity, I am about to upgrade to those speeds. Did you have a wired connection, or via Wi-Fi? I do not have too much use for PS Now, but I was thinking of a few select games that I would like to try with the service.
@MS7000 My PS4 is wired to the router. I was really disappointed with the quality. I sit quite close to the screen so maybe I'm just seeing it more than others, but it looked pretty bad on a 55-inch 4K screen. No idea how it looks on a 1080p screen, though.
@Cpt_Price they will most likely with the ps5.
@Jake3103 Yikes. That is disappointing to hear. I also sit reasonably close to my TV which is 49-inch 4K. Sounds like this may be a no-go. Good thing I prefer physical media to streaming. Thanks for getting back to me though.
Remember when Motion Controlled gaming and Stereoscopic 3D were the FUTURE??? I expect this to go the same way.
@MS7000 Sorry to disappoint you. It's worth giving it a try for yourself, especially if you still haven't used the free trial. But probably best to keep your expectations in check.
I feel many don't understand streaming service model. As with other types media its older content on a large scale delivered at a low cost. $99 for a year of PS-Now and a selection of 700 games is a very good deal. New content cant not be given at streaming price rates! Streaming will not be a magic price drop for new games. So forget about them.
Microsoft has been pushing "The Cloud" for years now. I have not seen one report of the Cloud do anything other than being a common server. I wonder If PlayStation Now is doing a lot better then we think. With Microsoft and Google wanting to get a part of the pie? But they will only pull from each of their own user bases. The news here is not that big of a deal. When people try to guess the future they tend to get it wrong.
I don't really think Sony is trying to complete in this field right now. Game streaming is still too early to know the long term ramifications to put all your eggs in that basket. And Sony's in a position where they can take a wait-and-see approach for the time being.
I do think we're going to see an overhaul of PSNow in the near future, but now's not the time to be making hasty decisions.
When there's more than enough choice at a reasonable price it doesn't always appeal to pay for an extra service to an unlimited amount of backlog. It's probably worthwhile to sign up now and then to maybe clear a bunch of shorter indie titles you're interested in.
"It's simple. Sony is not as stupid as MS to kill their console by streaming."
I second this!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t PSNow generating more revenue than practically all the other streaming services combined including Xbox’s Gamepass? I’m sure I’ve read an article about it and seen an interesting pie chart of the numbers. It’s pretty surprising.
A quick search and here is what I was looking for: https://www.superdataresearch.com/gaming-subscription/
PSNow makes more money than EA access, Origin access, and Xbox Gamepass combined, according to this research company. Kinda hard to say Sony is getting left behind with these numbers. I’m sure Sony is aware of the income that PSNow is generating, and knows that streaming will play a big part in the future of gaming.
I think it’s just more a case of PSNow being the popular service to criticize and pile on in gaming comment sections. But we have to remember that usually, only the hardcore gamers are going on gaming sites and commenting in the comment sections. Outside of our bubble however, the general public opinion can differ drastically. It’s just like how you see so much hate for Call of Duty, yet it’s the best selling game practically every year. You’d never guess that from how it’s talked about in comments sections. PSNow is probably similar in that regard.
Sever infrastructure. You have to build slowly and charge high initially.
You can't spend a billion on server infrastructure and then hope gamers buy it, nor can you charge peanuts and have more users than your infrastructure can support.
Watch sony ramp the service over the next few years. They have the content gamers want, Google or Microsoft don't. It's as simple as that.
Well I'm glad Sony doesn't make the cloud a priority.
I feel they are not trying to push a new water cooler before its really needed. Good on them.
I bought a PS4 Pro and not a chromecast for a reason.
I'll settle for cloud play the day it is perfect, I have a flawless fibre internet connection, the console is worth close to nothing and the subscription costs £15/month with the entire catalogue. So probably never unless we have no other choice, but I'll be pissed off every time there is the smallest issue.
My experience with the service isn't great, with standard broadband (15 mb broadband but the odd dip to 5 using which test site), red dead was unplayable. Audio was poor as well. Never got past the 7 days. Went and bought a 360 and physical copy instead. Service is still a bit pricey and also limits devices used. Sony should go big on having streaming and remote screen on as many devices as possible. Not having remote screen on android is a farce.
Truthfully, it can't compete. Google and Microsoft have a massive massive cloud presence and cloud infrastructure that they use for lots of different products. Sony does not. Sony is, in fact, the smaller of the three.
SO the question really comes down to, is the technology close enough to make it worthwhile? Sony have been quiet about streaming because it is controversial. The success depends largely on how good your connection is and the setup in your home. If google do release something and it isn't up to scratch, it will take some time before someone declares cloud gaming to be the future again.
Same with VR.
@Jake3103 I don't know why but it's always people with insane cable connections that complain about that. It's near perfect on my 30mb connection. Maybe there is something in the way a cable connection works?
@suikoden to be fair, an annual sub to PS Now is £84.99 nowadays, so that's £7 per month. That's not too bad.
Not sure why anyone would subscribe monthly to it, the same as for Plus. Makes more sense to do it annually.
I’m not convinced game streaming is there yet any time soon. It would have to be flawless. I think Sony is in a a good place actually. Time will tell.
I've used PS Now quite a bit and I've always thought it was a good service. Played a bunch of games on there. I cancelled my subscription not because it sucks, but because my backlog of games was so big I simply wasn't using it. I know I'll go back to it though at some point to try games I've never played.
I think we all just kinda underestimate PS Now. I get it, because I do it too. I always thought that nobody cared about it. But apparently they do and it makes loads of money.
As a gamer of some 40 years, they can all take "our new streaming future" and shove it where the sun doesn't shine. Sideways, and strapped to a large cactus.
It's not that I'm some dinosaur stuck in his ways. I love new tech, better ways of doing things, etc. I am the person people older and younger than me come to for help with many tech-related things.
I simply do not want to be reliant on an internet connection to play my games.
It's not great that I usually need to download day-one updates for my disc-based games these days. Yes, I can see that it's "good" that it allows games to be updated if problems are found, and for extra content to be added. But I also believe it allows developers (or more probably, publishers) to reduce testing time/resources and throw out clearly unfinished games, with the mentality of "money now, fixes later". Hello Fallout 76, Anthem, and others But that is just about tolerable.
I also balk at the supposedly all-digital future too, as I see digital games as little more than glorified rentals. You don't actually own anything, you still can't sell it on (despite a now seven year old EU ruling saying that you should be able to), and dependent on DRM you could lose everything you bought if the company disappears. See OnLive.
And when it comes to streaming... well, as I said, I don't want to be beholden to an unrelated third party service provider to play even my single-player titles. A couple of years ago, we were without internet for a week after a cable failure in the local area. Couldn't stream any movies, but at least I could play my games.
The internet just isn't ready for the gamers of the world to start streaming, especially as things move to 4K. And let's face it, input lag is never going to get as low as on a local system, even with a 'perfect' connection, so control issues will always be more prominent. Then, as most people are wetting themselves over the fidelity of 4K HDR, you're going to try moving them to compressed video streams and the artefacts and noise that brings... things which matter far less in movies than in games. It's essentially a step backwards.
ISPs the world over need to massively up their game and their equipment before streaming stands a chance of competing with a local device, and they move like glaciers compared to the gaming world. I first got cable broadband in June 2001. Eighteen years later and there are still places which can't get it, and that's in a country as small as the UK. The last time I checked, if I switched to a non-cable ISP, my fastest speed would be around 2.5Mbps as opposed to 100Mbps. Even so, there are still issues with contention at busy times, with all ISPs saying "upto" a maximum speed instead of guaranteeing it, and while many don't limit download speeds any more, most do still restrict upload speeds to a fraction of the download. The networks simply aren't up to the job.
So five years seems a massively optimistic suggestion. You can probably triple that at least. As for who stands the best chance of success? Well, Sony might have a few years experience, and Google/Microsoft may have the larger server farms, but that's all pretty irrelevant. The great leveller is what lies between them and the end user... the internet itself.
Let's see what it does.
Edit: Wow (so far)
Sony's right. Until there is perfect high-speed internet connection everywhere, there's hardly any market in streaming...
never mind google/MS - Amazon's AWS cloud platform dwarfs them both, if they decided to enter the fray, it could be a right market carve-up. the advantage these three have over sony is that their cloud presence and huge infrastructure investment is not dependent on gaming - the amount of growth in IaaS, SaaS, PaaS over the last number of years means that gaming is just another opportunity. that's not really true for sony.. i think sony sees PSNow as a way to extend the gaming experience rather than replace it. somebody is going to crash and burn imo, because i don't think the industry can support so many streaming services, certainly not on a subscription model.
it's like the video streaming market, a big showdown is inevitable. apple and disney are both lining up to take a serious crack at netflix's market share. what happens when half the content starts being removed from one platform to appear spread out across others? the amount of content is reduced, the level of service is reduced, because nobody is going to pay to have 5 or 6 streaming subs per month just for TV. the same is going to be true for games. what if various publishers/developers only released games on particular services?. say you can't get ubisoft or capcom games on PSNow, because 'Google GameStream' (or whatever) has the rights, or activision partnered with another platform so call of duty or diablo is only available on 'Amazon Prime Games'. this is not a sustainable model, imo.
I actually believe their technology and think this will be a success but this conference is way too long/boring.
I've had a few downs with my nternet these last few days so that reminds me of why it's a big no no
Stadia sounds incredible, let's see if it works as good as it looks on stage. This could mean the death of consoles in the next decade
Let them stream we ll buy our physical games than let's see who wins. I don't know you guys seem to push for an all digital future. What's the hurry you can buy from the ps store anyway. Go for it and leave those who enjoy physical to have a go as well. Jeeeeeess!!
@Paranoimia oh my god someone who speak the truth.
@leucocyte yeah, ive been thinking the same about streaming for ages. There are just too many steaming services to be sustainable. Back in the beginning, it made sense to 'cut the cable'and just have netflix, but with more and more competitors entering the field and expecting consumers to stump up another 6 quid a month, and pulling their content from established platforms, which dilutes the content pool for all..no way is that sustainable.
If thats the future for gaming, i will be very concerned indeed. That is exactly why Sony didnt want EA access on playstation. Microsoft are already trying their luck with game pass - which is the first step towards spreading beyond a console box. And like you say, whats stopping other companies from launching similar services like the activision hub, ubiplayhereonly service and the 2konlywaytoplaygta6isbypayingusallof the money platform. All for a tenner a month each. No thank you!
It also seems to suggest the end of game ownership. Games could be pulled at short notice (like how netflix pulls content regularly when the licence is up), and we would simply be paying for a licence to access whatever the publishers want to allow us to access. Thats not for me. One of the main reasons for continuing to support physical media for me is simply because i know i own what i buy. I was on psn the other day and saw Sony were trying to charge me 3.99 for full throttle, even thoygh i paid for it in full on release. Even if a mistake it shows my digital purchases are not really mine.
And internet is just not there yet. Stadia sounds great. But what happens when your internet connection fails? What if you want to play on the move over 4g? And is that even possible? How quickly will that consume my data plan? If i am on the train and go through a tunnel, or am on a plane, what then? What about in the car? I take my vita everywhere when i travel. Safe in the knowledge i can play offline.
Most of gaming pinaccles are sonys and you think they will give them to Google. Begone Google and let us be if they want to play fortnite well let them be but God... Spidey... .. Horizon.... Last of us.... Uncharted...... Detriot.....days gone...... Dreams..... Qa Qa Qa Qa you have to buy a Sony console......
PlayStation now is not news precisely because it’s already out and people can see what it does. What Google has planned is interesting because we don’t know and so it might be something original that hasn’t been done before.
PS Now is pretty expensive and it released before people were ready to even talk about the idea. Sony moved too early.
Problem is Gamers want it all and they want it Free or very near it. You cant have high quality AAA $59 games and give them away $10 for 30 days of use. Microsoft game pass causes more damage than good. You end up with very few exclusives with lack of quality. A streaming service has to follow the exact same rules.
If Google tries to offer to much at to low a price quality will suffer greatly. If you purchase PSNow by the year its only $8.33 a month. For 700 games old or whatever thats a very good value. Funny thing is where are all the pro backwards compatibility people now.
Oh it comes at a small cost never mind I just wanted it if it was free.
I'm happy for Sony and Nintendo to remain as the hardware company to be honest, while Microsoft and Google etc can focus on the cloud. I do get the feeling with PS5 Sony will have something up their sleeve that bring advances to cloud gaming during the announcement however. Sony hasn't exactly been dormant with PS Now, they've been slowly expanding their data centers despite being very quiet.
Sony needs to lower the price of ps now so it’s more attractive to customers. I know that’s the reason I haven’t subscribed.
I think a good start would be to make all PS Now titles downloadable to the hard drive. I think the 100 MB/s speeds people talk about in gaming comment sections are the exception to the rule of internet speeds in the US - streaming isn't an option for most. Add data caps, and you've got yourself another pretty big obstacle.
Other people have beaten this horse to death, but Sony, Microsoft, Google, et al. need to figure out how to get around predatory ISP practices in the US. It's well-documented that other developed countries have far faster internet speeds at much lower prices.
This article is titled "FCC Report Concludes US Internet Speeds Are ‘Among Worst in the Developed World'"
in addition, with the recent death of Net Neutrality, we can only expect ISP practices in the US to become even more predatory as the oligopoly of ISPs endlessly search for new revenue streams.
Streaming gaming could work on a mainstream scale, just not in the US, at least not right now.
@Rudy_Manchego cloud isnt what's needed here, rendering farms are what's needed. Google and Microsoft dont have those, Sony has been ramping theirs.
@Badbob Beyond on-site render farms, cloud-based render farm options have been facilitated by the rise of high-speed Internet access. Many cloud computing services, including some dedicated to rendering, offer render farm services which bill only for processor time used. Microsoft have invested massively in Azure cloud based services for rendering.
I buy all my games digitally now but would never pay a subscription for a streaming only service. There are to many factors involved that would or could screw up my gaming experience. Yes i know owning digitally has it's own pitfalls, but they're far less than only streaming in my opinion.
PS Now doesn't offer enough of a draw for PS owners. I mean 157 million PS2s have been sold and how many of those thousands of games that ran on that console do we have available? Almost none.
I'm OK with digital downloads (even though the prices can be more than getting a disc posted...) but streaming only doesn't appeal.
Here is the thing. The year Sonybwas breached and Plus was down for a month or so was just such negative press. Which i understand to a degree. I feel like the RRoD scandal was easily as bad if not worse. But ever since then bashing Sony for everything outside 1st party titles (and even games like TLoU and Uncharted get called "walkin sims" by trolls lol) is the cool thing to do. I think PSN works just as reliable as Live and DL speeds are fine. But those are also constant bashing points on Sony. Also, Sony did Now (game streaming) before anyone else and we all know Sony is only good at poorly mimicking Nintendo and Xbox innovation...amarite?? It makes me laugh that Playstation is so far ahead yet is labeled the least innovative
@jdv95 I think we are forgetting the big picture here. The internet landscape will look drastically different in 5 to 10 years. More and more people everyday have access to high tier internet and the demand is rising. I don't think streaming is meant to replace standalone consoles yet. There are still plenty of customers that will still need physical media for years to come. Take a look at the music industry. As streaming services grew and became better the market share of physical media has decreased by huge margins. It comes down to a couple factors, convenience and cost. Most people now stream music and video even though they could get a better picture or sound by other methods. It only makes sense that gaming will go down the same path.
Also, Sony really are not pushing the service, as in advertising. Did any of you know that during the 1st 2 weeks of Feb, if you signed up, you got a monthly price of £8.99 for 12 months? No? It is because it was advertised WITHIN the app itself! Silly really.
Not many news sites even report about it. Even here, I have only seen a hand full of articles about the service and they update it ever month!
Well none of them will get the Aussie gaming market. Our internet is complete rubbish. Even with NBN (fibre roll-out), I still see drop outs and other issues. Average DL rate here is 10mbs, average upload is 0.8mbs, good luck with 4k streams and 4k uploads of your game play exploits!!!
I've yet to get a single share-play session initiated, as it always says that the connection is not good enough, and I've tried in the last 5 apartments I've lived in (Sydney too, not the middle of Whoop whoop).
Because PSNow sucks. 720p 30 fps dog . xCloud and Stadia are both light years better than what Sony can offer, they simply don't have the money, infrastructure or expertise in the field.
@batosaims7 Please.be mindful of the language. As per community rules
Do not use profanity; Use of unsavoury language including profanity and swearing is not acceptable, please remember that this website has users of all ages.
Thanks for understanding
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