Like many many people out there, I am incredibly excited about the prospect of PlayStation Now. Having not played a PS3 last generation I would love the opportunity to catch up on some of the stunningly explosive games such as The Last Of Us, whilst check out the origins of the titles I plan to play on my PS4 and to also see some conclusions of the games I loved to play on the PS2. As a Vita owner I have also seen how great playing PS1 titles have been, getting Spiro and FFIX immediately upon turning the thing on. I think that this is very typical for a lot of gamers, especially now that money and misguided loyalty make people stick to one console only. (See how I managed to get all the Sony consoles in there!).
So we knew something was coming from Sony and we knew it would be big. Having purchased Gaikai in 2012 they promised a back catalogue of games that should seamlessly stream to our consoles without any load time. I for one thought that this would just be a bonus on the already impressive back-catalogue of games on offer on the PSN but it has turned out to be much, much more than I was thinking. For those who have been oblivious to Sony’s release at this years CES, PlayStation Now plans to be a streaming service allowing players to stream an impressive collection of PS3 games, not only to their consoles, but also to any Sony Bravia TV and also tablets. Essentially a Netflix for games, PlayStation Now will have a subscription model that will allow you unlimited access to their catalogue or a one off rental fee so that you can just hand pick titles that interest you. This model is by no means new, but given the support of a company like Sony with its extensive back catalogue of games, it just might be the key for this to take off with games the way it has with films and TV.
Above anything else, this is a big sign that Sony is preparing itself for the future and not putting all its hopes on the console. This does not mean that Sony have ideas to abandon the console market, why would they after just breaking all sorts of records with the PS4? But the fact the Sony are making PlayStation games available not only on the consoles but also on TVs and tablets means a few things.
1. People who do not have a PlayStation will be hooked on games that have to conclude on the PS4. Xbox or PC gamers can, for the first time, have a go at the likes of Uncharted and The Last Of Us, something that would have passed many people before (myself included). The urge to see the ending to these story lines, or perhaps just seeing some of the quality of the developers, may be enough to convert people over to the PlayStation consoles and would definitely influence those who are looking to buy a console for the first time. The ability to ‘try before you buy’ has only really worked with shop demos or going round your mates house before, where as now you can engage in whole experiences before making your decision.
2. Consoles and platform dominance can’t last forever, right? Well, PlayStation Now will transcend the model we have all come to know and ensure that Sony has a place in the future of gaming, even if they abandon consoles all together. What we may even see is Sony choosing to push hardware such as Vita TV with the ability to link to PS Now instead of a high-end console. This surely would reduce the costs both for Sony and for the end consumer. Having to only pay an initial £150 for a small box and a couple of controllers while you choose how you want to interact with Now, either through rentals or streaming, will please both the hardcore gamers who can get access to 10x the amount of games they now have, and also the more casual gamer who would like to play some of the big titles without a massive initial start-up cost.
Overall I applaud Sony for dreaming big and being clever with a company they paid a hell of a lot of money for. I envision that we will have to see this idea grow before it devours us all, but the idea of streaming games at any time is incredibly exciting. As the sort of person who gets easily distracted, moving from one game to another, not only will I have access to a greater library of content, but it will most likely end up saving me quite a bit of money to boot.