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PlayStation Now must fight hard to sway cloud naysayers – opinion

Wednesday, 8th January 2014 11:41 GMT By Dave Cook

PlayStation Now, the new face of Gaikai, will provide PS3 cloud-streaming for PS4, PS Vita, Bravia TV and other devices. VG247′s Dave Cook explains why early naysayers need to look at the bigger picture.

When Sony bought Dave Perry’s Gaikai cloud-streaming service for $380 million in 2012, it was difficult to understand how the deal would impact the strategy of both companies.

We speculated – as we often do – about PS4 being a disc-less console, and how it could allow simultaneous physical, PSN and streamed launches. Sony put all the guessing to rest at CES 2014 yesterday.

PlayStation Now is Gaikai’s new face. The service will offer cloud-streamed PS3 games over PS4 initially, before rolling out across PS Vita, Bravia smart televisions, Xperia tablets and, eventually, non-Sony appliances. You can get all the games you want for a monthly fee or pay for individual game rentals, with cloud saves letting you halt and resume your play on any device that takes a Sony Entertainment Network log-in.

And many of you aren’t happy.

I’m confused. During my travels in the last 24 hours, I’ve seen you complain that bandwidth isn’t up to scratch for such a service to provide lag-free, functional play, or that the service will “suck” because it’s only going to stream PS3 titles and not that obscure PS2 franchise from Japan you feel you deserve to play again.

“This is a new, highly ambitious initiative, one that’s never been attempted on this scale before. There will be problems and technical hiccups.”

Let’s be clear about this: I don’t care if you are Sony and you have just sold 4.2 million PS4 consoles, no one buys a company like Gaikai for $380 million to merely spaff it up the wall on a failed, singular service launch. This is a long-term strategy that will start with a summer beta in North America before rolling out gradually. Shuhei Yoshida knows that the world’s broadband isn’t entirely able to deal with this sort of service yet (he said as much last year). He and his team at Sony are not idiots. They get it.

Perry, Shuhei and the rest of the Sony brass will have to work hard to remind consumers that PlayStation Now is almost assured to release with a few wobbles. That’s what its summer beta is for. Don’t forget that this is a new, highly ambitious initiative, one that’s never been attempted on this scale before. There will be problems and technical hiccups, but it’s clearly a learning experience for technology firms in general. It won’t be easy to persuade the naysayers, but if Sony really wants this thing to work, it’ll have to do so efficiently and with frankness.

But to discount PlayStation Now just because your personal internet connection isn’t stable or ultra fast is to lose sight of the bigger picture. Yes, OnLive has been branded a failure and has been cited by many gamers as an example of why Sony’s gamble won’t work. Well, some people said Dreamcast was a failure, but look; it pioneered in many areas such as online play, which are now staples of the industry. Sony isn’t going to repeat OnLive’s mistakes. It’ll learn from them, and over time the service will grow and become more efficient.

Seriously, stop being negative for negativity’s sake. Think about this for a moment: all the PS3 games you want, when you want them, where you want them and on any device you desire for a monthly fee. It’s Netflix for Sony’s back-catalogue (in theory, at least). Now chuck in all those PSOne and PS2 games you grew up with, perhaps some PS4 titles further on and maybe even your music and film services and you have yourself an attractive, reasonable prospect. I’m failing to see the down-side to this.

I think it’d be a bit premature to suggest that PlayStation Now will mark the end of your bricks and mortar stores like GAME. I’m also feeling that GameStop’s stock dip following Sony’s announcement is just a case of the knee-jerk jitters. It’ll pass, and I’m sure the high street will live to fight for many years to come.

That’s not to say PS Now won’t be disruptive. I truly think it’ll shake up content delivery on consoles – hell, not even consoles – but just picture this for a moment: you don’t even have a PS3 but you want to play Uncharted 2? What’s that? You have a smart TV that supports PS Now? Plug in your DualShock and start playing, then. That the PlayStation brand is poised to infiltrate beyond Sony devices could seriously increase the company’s visibility, popularity and profit.

We’re often afraid of change and are quick to put things down without trial. Truth be told, seeing interesting prospects torn to shreds over nothing is easily the most dismaying part of this job. It’s lucky, then, that I’m the optimistic type. I feel PlayStation Now has the potential to spearhead change in the way we enjoy our hobby.

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41 Comments

  1. Zana

    “Seriously, stop being negative for negativity’s sake.” I fully support that, thanks Dave for your opinion. Not everything is perfect about cloud gaming but people need to calm down a little when expressing their thoughts.

    #1 11 months ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 Any time. Games are there to make us happy and to entertain, point blank negativity spits in the eye of why this industry exists in the first place.

    #2 11 months ago
  3. AmiralPatate

    “Seriously, stop being negative for negativity’s sake”

    That’s asking for a lot on the Internet, isn’t it?

    If that cloud thing can make games rain, I don’t see how this is bad.

    #3 11 months ago
  4. SplatteredHouse

    “if Sony really wants this thing to work, it’ll have to do so efficiently and with frankness.

    A key point. I’ll take a company I can trust, and can trust to manage, over a lot of hot air and swagger. Fortunately, one company has a largely unblemished CS/communication record, along with the necessary ties and relationships to offer a comprehensive service.

    I find the “in the US” part of these stories sticks in the craw, but that’s mostly borne of the terrible worldwide coverage when it comes to broader/media services on a competing machine that I experienced over years! I at least understand the intention is there to bring all of PlayStation to the World, and for now that’s good enough.
    I would also mention PlayStation Suite, as the first footsteps made by Sony to branch out from just the box.

    #4 11 months ago
  5. FeaturePreacher

    I think PlayStation now is a great add on for PlayStation users. The point is not to replace local game playing. The point is to give you the chance to play PlayStation games wherever you are. This will be abundantly clear if PlayStation Now comes to the PC. Not only that, this will be great for places like China, where piracy is rampant.

    Beyond that, it’ll be a great way to get over the barrier of paying for games. If you could pay $15/month, in addition to a PlayStation plus subscription, to play a huge catalog of great games, even just to try them out, why wouldn’t you. This could be a great way for developers of games that appeal to a smaller audience, like Bayonetta or Anarchy Reigns, to sustain development. If you enjoy the free games you get with PS Plus, getting tons of games for a monthly fee, seems like a no brainer to me.

    #5 11 months ago
  6. Erthazus

    “This is a new, highly ambitious initiative, one that’s never been attempted on this scale before. There will be problems and technical hiccups.”

    It’s not.

    Gaikai did this before.

    Onlive does it right now and in fact Onlive bought some other company and they are doing restructuring after a failure.

    #6 11 months ago
  7. mistermogul

    “no one buys a company like Gaikai for $380 million to merely spaff it up the wall”

    They do Dave. A recent example in the games industry is when Zynga bought OMGPop for $180 million then closed them down not long after!

    #7 11 months ago
  8. Dave Cook

    $180 million from a company without direction versus $380 million from a veteran firm with a clearly renewed focus.

    I know which one I’d rather trust here.

    #8 11 months ago
  9. Dave Cook

    @6 Gaikai’s initial release was a test. It was never actually released.

    I said in the article that OnLive failed, but that Sony will learn from those mistakes.

    Why is it so hard to entertain the idea that PS Now could work?

    I’m really puzzled by your negativity and inability to respect contrary opinions on the matter.

    #9 11 months ago
  10. Zackslacky

    Playstation now is going to be sweet. I live in ireland amd have 200mb fiber optic broadband. What lag is what I say?? Now I can soon use my vita to play last of us? Shut up and take my money;)

    #10 11 months ago
  11. mistermogul

    @8 – Agreed.

    #11 11 months ago
  12. tenthousandgothsonacid

    This is definitely the future.

    #12 11 months ago
  13. Dave Cook

    @10 Lucky :P

    My upload speed here in Edinburgh is woeful, despite paying top dollar for a supposed 60MB line. (It’s not of course…)

    #13 11 months ago
  14. Zackslacky

    Only have 10mb up myself dave. Good ping though. Pity most routers cant bang out 200mb over wifi. Only get bout 50mb wireless. 200 wired.

    #14 11 months ago
  15. SplatteredHouse

    “Not only that, this will be great for places like China, where piracy is rampant. ” Is that a case of opportunism, insufficient policing/punishment or what, that has kept platform holders from publishing there? (*buzzer* No. it’s illegal until a recent suspension, at least!)
    The point being; if the games were legally available in China, would that fact alone make enough of a dent in the takeup of illegitimate software to the extent that they wouldn’t be left combating a torrent with a trickle?

    #15 11 months ago
  16. Dave Cook

    @14 I would love to have those kinds of speeds, but up here over the wall and in the north, we’re not so lucky :’(

    #16 11 months ago
  17. naffgeek

    Great article Dave, I live in the countryside and get 1mb (BT are giving me fibre in March but then the ysaid that last september too!) but I have BT Business and the connection and ping are great.

    I stream netflix no problem and although it isn’t instant or HD it does a really good job and looks fine on my 46inch tv.

    My point is that streaming tech is maturing and I for one do believe that it’s dominance in the future is inevitable.

    And I think Sony have just made a brilliant move.

    #17 11 months ago
  18. paulvfinch

    I think people need to accept that like it or not The Cloud is coming to Gaming just like it came saw and conquered music and is currently conquering video.
    To suggest otherwise is burying your head in the digital sand.

    The new generations perception of ownership has radically shifted. Think about Spotify or Google music, is it your music? Yes as long as you pay your subscription, same with Netflix.

    Will the gaming shops of the future be like the Vinyl record shops of today? I would say so however things go in and out of fashion and the idea of old consoles and games as desirable antiques are already here.
    What will it be like in Ten Years when the main platform for games is The Cloud?

    Most people who say they do not use the cloud soon backtrack when you ask the following.
    Do you use Dropbox, Google Drive or Skydrive, Google Music or Spotify, Netflix or Love Film.

    Tablets with low local storage have certainly turned the masses onto the idea and advantages of the Cloud.

    People also argue that with the exception of Dropbox and Skydrive the others are not true cloud services but they are certainly close cousins.

    #18 11 months ago
  19. Dave Cook

    @17 Thanks mate, much appreciated :)

    #19 11 months ago
  20. Eregol

    I have a 76meg connection that drops to 20 via powerline connection, even still I’m pretty excited by this prospect, especially, if, as Sony say, PS4 titles will be added eventually.
    They obviously wont be added straight away as Sony don’t want to cannibalise their own market share, but what a prospect.

    I also wonder whether the server farm rendering the games, especially the PS3 ones, could possibly have a little extra grunt behind them to prevent dropped frames and screen tearing from the original versions?

    #20 11 months ago
  21. FrankJaeger

    Great article Dave.
    After reading it, I tried not to, but had to look in the comments for what Erthazus had to “Naysay”. *laugh* (Just kidding bro, don’t take it seriously)
    Yes, failures happens, but if everyone was negative for negativity’s sake we should be using squared rock wheels until now.
    Remember, losing an erection won’t make our “big brothers” forever useless.
    Back to the article, on the PSBlog there was an answer to a repply noticing that Sony’s internal tests, with 5MBPS+ connection, have been enjoying a low latency, high-quality gaming experience.
    I’m a little apreensive too, but gonna give Sony my vow of truth and wait to see what the future brings.
    My best regards and a great New Year for all of you.
    I’m sure we gamers will.

    #21 11 months ago
  22. dizzygear

    “Shuhei Yoshida knows that the world’s broadband isn’t entirely able to deal with this sort of service yet (he said as much last year). He and his team at Sony are not idiots. They get it.”

    Yeah that’s why the service is not even announced yet for the EU even though many European country’s score higher than the US when it comes to internet speeds.

    #22 11 months ago
  23. stealth

    Sorry, I dont see it as a good value proposition.

    #23 11 months ago
  24. silkvg247

    I really am just fascinated with how HD games can ever work. A genuine curiosity on how a minimum 60fps @ 1080p can be streamed. They do just stream the frames, right?

    I can see ps1 and ps2 working just fine though.

    Also the other thought is.. isn’t it counter productive to release a next gen console and then announce a streaming service which negates the need for a powerful console?

    #24 11 months ago
  25. Exsecratus

    I would like to hear from the gang of “teh powa of da cloud” now.

    #25 11 months ago
  26. Legendaryboss

    @25
    Yes Master!
    http://www.sonydefenseforce.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/vTJ5rsI.gif
    http://www.ps4gamers.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Xbox_one-VS-PS4_adverts_18.gif

    #26 11 months ago
  27. paulvfinch

    I wonder how quickly PS1 Rom sites will start disappearing when this launches?

    The secret to getting rid of piracy has proved to been convenience vs price!

    I.E. Make is accessible and easy with a reasonable price point and the masses will come.

    @Dave Cook – Any hints of a pricing structure?

    #27 11 months ago
  28. dizzygear

    @27 How about never? Some games were never released in certain territory’s and the publishers still seem to have zero intention to bring them over despite the repeated begging *cough* Squeenix *cough* Xenogears *cough* Parasite Eve 1 *cough* Europe *cough*

    There is also licensing issues like brands and music used in old games to prevent games from being re-released leaving piracy or ridiculous prices on the 2nd hand market as the only option to play them.

    #28 11 months ago
  29. mark_t50

    As much as I would love to be positive about Playstation Now, it is hard for me not to think they could have done it better whilst still utilising the ‘power of the cloud’.

    Imagine if instead of investing that money in streaming, they invested it in emulation combined with cloud caching. So, instead of streaming a PS2 game, you download the first ‘portion’ to a cache on the PS4 and once enough was downloaded it ran in a software emulator. The advantage being that it still runs locally and removes problems associated with streaming solutions.

    Just because people might take issue with streaming doesn’t necessarily mean they are afraid of the future. I simply believe that the future can provide us with a better and more robust solution than simply streaming.

    I still think the idea behind the PlayStation Now service itself is a fine one, I just remain to be convinced they’re using the right technology to deliver a great idea.

    #29 11 months ago
  30. Tormenter

    I think this service will only succeed if they offer their cloud streaming service separate from a PS4 purchase and open up their ENTIRE back catalogue (1,2 and 3).. I’m not sure how many people would be impressed with this service if all it offered was an incomplete experience, a few titles here and there.

    I think this is a good idea and would seriously consider it.. BUT I would NEVER buy a console just to have access to the streaming.. and I would NEVER pay a console price, games, subscription and then ANOTHER subscription for the streaming and have to buy games for that too…that’s just plain and simple robbery.

    Nice idea Sony.. fucked up, piss taking execution though.

    #30 11 months ago
  31. OlderGamer

    Good read Dave. Gets me excited for what is waiting down the road. Right now my PS4 just sits there. Will be nice to change that.

    #31 11 months ago
  32. Dragon

    Adoption for this will be very regional and it will probably take years for it to make significant inroads outside countries like US and Japan.
    But it future proofs Sony. No longer are they just restricted to selling games for hardware

    #32 11 months ago
  33. manamana

    Nice opinion Dave. I think Sony aims very high with their Ps brand and thats a good thing. Thats what nintendo could have done but will never do. As my man Mike Skinner said: Just try and stay positive!

    #33 11 months ago
  34. OmegaSlayer

    It seems like a good bunch of smart moves to me.
    The only big point that Sony has to address is how to deal with owners of physical discs of some releases.
    I would gladly play a little fee (less than 2 € x game) to upgrade some games from physical to streaming and not paying for what I have in digital form.

    What could be smart is the tier pricing.
    Would be smart to offer 3 tiers.
    A discounted one for PS+ users.
    A normal one for PSN users without PS+.
    A higher fee to stream the games on non Sony devices.

    On top of that I hope that Sony starts to deliver some kind of official MAME into PS3, PS4 and PSVita to play old arcade games on the system where you can purchase a game or play “one coin”.
    Original games, no HD treatments.
    It would be great for gamers and great for software houses that have great games under piles of dust that would generate some income instead.
    I know that I would get at least 50-60 old arcades to play on my Vita.
    (Shinobi, Ghouls’n'ghosts, New Zealand Story, Strider to name a few)
    I think those games would get more revenues sold alone than in compilations like Capcom/Sega offered.

    #34 11 months ago
  35. dontbescaredhomie92

    Pretty sure the general view of cloud prior to both consoles release was who needs that, soon as Sony announce they are also investing heavily into cloud functionality it’s suddenly a revolution, really can’t help but laugh.

    #35 11 months ago
  36. POOhead

    People have to take it in consideration that this is first time something like this will be getting advertised to the mainstream, I cant confirm if there were any ads for onlive or kaki but if sony is advertising this thing it will be big or not so big like the ps move.

    #36 11 months ago
  37. Phoenixblight

    @36

    Gaikai was a proof of concept, it was never aimed to be a full service like Onlive. Onlive did have quite a few TV spots at least in America. Onlive just couldn’t get publisher backing to get its feet off the ground.

    #37 11 months ago
  38. fearmonkey

    I am with ya Dave. I am very excited for Playstation now since I have never owned a Ps3, and will get to play the games I missed out on. I played Gaikai game demos and it was far better an experience than Onlive in my opinion.

    The graphics and lag on Gaikai was barely noticeable, and mass effect 3 looked and played great on it. If They do the same with the PS3′s game lineup, it will be awesome.

    I am just as excited for Live TV though, I am not sure how they are planning to do that, but if they can do it…whoo hoo!

    #38 11 months ago
  39. BordorFox

    Looking forward to seeing this service in Ireland by 2023.

    Lets just hope i haven’t got old and died by then.

    #39 11 months ago
  40. Telepathic.Geometry

    Nice piece Dave. I have absolutely no interest in this tech, as it takes us further down the road of not actually owning your games for reals, and maybe that’s the best way, but it’s not my way.

    I’ve got a 100MB line so I guess I’d be sorted, and maybe my opinion will change over the next 5 years or so, when I end up with less and less physical games, but for now… Good luck to anyone who wants it though.

    #40 11 months ago
  41. Cobra951

    “I really am just fascinated with how HD games can ever work. A genuine curiosity on how a minimum 60fps @ 1080p can be streamed. They do just stream the frames, right?”

    @24: They stream video to you–that is correct. The game is running on a remote server. Your control input streams to them, the game processes it remotely, renders the appropriate frames and audio in response, and sends them to you.

    And therein lies the rub. You need perfect lag-less broadband for this to work properly with real-time games. Laggy real-world internet will work fine for turn-based affairs, though–unless you’re paying by the GB, or you have crippling monthly caps on your service.

    That issue rears its ugly head even before considering the philosophical objections to gaming as a service. There’s a recent story about how Netflix eliminated a good deal of content on January 1st, I think due to licenses expiring. If you were a fan of the eliminated shows, and you depended on Netflix alone for their access, you’re now boned. The same can happen to any game you don’t have in your possession (as physical media or even a download). They will control all that you see and hear.

    Yes, I am a naysayer. Dave didn’t sway me, but nice try.

    #41 11 months ago

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