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CES Feature Articles

January 07, 2014

Sony Shows off PlayStation Now Cloud Gaming Service at CES 2014

Sony had an absolutely monster day today; first, it showed off the new HMZ-T3Q headset, and it promptly followed up that potential game-changer with a second and equally potent revelation. Specifically, Sony showed off PlayStation Now, a service that was aimed not only at the PlayStation 4, but also at the PlayStation 3...and a variety of other devices as well.

Essentially, PlayStation Now takes the library of PlayStation 3 games and allows said games to be played on the PlayStation 4. But while that particular piece of gaming capability won't go unnoticed, there's quite a bit more to it as well. While the issue of backward compatibility is at least somewhat settled—and a great start by most gamers' reckoning—it actually carries on from here, as the PlayStation Now service is set to be made available on the PlayStation Vita, and on a host of other devices as well, from tablets and smartphones to televisions.

Since PlayStation Now—basically a rebranded Gaikai--essentially works like the gaming equivalent of a YouTube (News - Alert) video, in which PlayStation Now's servers handle all the heavy lifting and send the compressed video frames back to the users, the service can run on most any device. However, the only downside to the PlayStation Now service is that it will need  an Internet connection with as low a latency as possible, so as to reduce the time between a button being pressed and the action taking place on screen.

Current reports suggest that the order of operations for PlayStation Now service will begin with the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, not surprisingly, and then on to the Vita not too long after. But after that, users will see the product move to Bravia televisions, in particular “most 2014 US models”. The service will not only allow for live streaming, but users will also be able to save games, rent games, or go to a straight subscription. However, there's likely to be a lag in making the appearance in PAL territories like Europe, at last report owing to complexities in terms of the overall broadband environment and the need to make sure the rollout proceeds with due smoothness.

This is a pretty big advancement for Sony, which now has one more reason to recommend itself to gamers. Between the overall victory that Sony won at E3 with the gamers, and the increasing number of game-related moves that Sony's been spotted making, like the new headset, the addition of backward compatibility—even if of a somewhat gradual nature—is likely to be received well by the gaming public as a whole. While Microsoft (News - Alert) is making its own advances, Sony may well be making better inroads with the so-called core gaming market, and these may be the kinds of advances that will serve Sony well as it looks to rebuild from past issues. Even Microsoft's own turf is somewhat threatened by developments like the Virtual Joey with Dish Network.

It's still a very early time in the console wars overall. Anything can change, and with an increasingly large number of unexpected competitors like Ouya and the Steam Machines, anything has a pretty fair likelihood of changing. Sony may well have seized a rather important lead here today, and may be in a position to give Microsoft a much better run for its money than some may have expected. The next few months should really tell the story about who's taking the biggest part of the next generation.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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