PlayStation Now must fight hard to sway cloud naysayers – opinion

Wednesday, 8 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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