Sony’s move to cloud gaming goes up a gear with PlayStation Now

Sony has announced PlayStation Now, a service which allows gamers to stream a variety of PlayStation titles across a range of devices without a console in sight.

The announcement was made at CES, with games from Sony’s previous three consoles being utilised and the service available on the PS4, the PS Vita, as well as Sony’s Bravia TV sets.

The technology for PlayStation Now came from Gaikai, a company which streams high-end video games. Gaikai was bought by Sony in July 2012 for $380m, a clear sign of its cloud-based future.

This is not to say the user experience has been completely seamless, however. The Verge reported “a slightly perceptible lag between button presses and the corresponding action onscreen”, yet added that “you’ll never think of gaming the same way again”.

Similarly Sid Shuman, social media manager at Sony Computer Entertainment America, admitted that “pixel counters and graphics aficionados might spot some minor concessions in the visual department”. He added that a 5mbps connection would provide “a good experience” for the majority of games.

Despite the teething troubles, it all points to a rosy future for cloud services, according to Rackspace VP technology Nigel Beighton.

“Sony’s announcement confirms that the future of gaming sits firmly in the cloud,” Beighton said.

Beighton noted, as Shuman pointed out, the problems of bandwidth capacity which could affect the gaming experience.

“Cloud computing is the only technology that gives the agility to constantly re-scale services anywhere and at any time, allowing gaming companies to get extra capacity fast by spinning up extra servers as and when they need them,” he explained.

Beighton added: “If gaming companies understand this, then they are also set to benefit from the cost savings the flexibility of the cloud can give them, because they only need to pay for extra capacity when there are peaks in demand, as opposed to running maximum capacity all year round.”

This is a particularly interesting development when compared to OnLive, the cloud gaming service which launched in 2010 but has yet to gain lift-off – primarily because the big games companies hold all the cards with their releases. Sony is yet to announce pricing details for PS Now.

What do you make of this development?

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