It's not only an exciting new gaming service, but also a mesmerising hint at the destiny of the PlayStation brand and the future of gaming in general. This is the beginning of a cosmic shift in the paradigm of gaming, and it's happening right here, right now. Be excited.
You'll be able to select a game and begin streaming it immediately, meaning absolutely no delay in getting the game up and running. Instantaneous PS3 gaming, no loading times at all. Awesome!
But there's more. Lots more.
Game streaming functionality will later arrive on the PS Vita and, far more excitingly, Bravia TVs. Yep, using a DualShock 3 pad, you'll be able to play full-blown PS3 games, in HD, on your big TV, without the need to own a PlayStation console. Incredible!
But wait. There's still more.
Eventually, PS Now will offer not only PS3 games, but PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games - not only on the PS3, PS4, PS Vita and Bravia TVs, but also on third-party TVs, smartphones and tablets as well. All without needing to own a games console. Wow.
Games will be available to rent on a one-off basis, with unlimited Netflix-style monthly PSN subscriptions a payment model Sony is likely to pursue aggressively.
That's right, the future of gaming lays entirely in software, services and super-fast internet connections and not in expensive black boxes.
What it means for gaming
Play any PlayStation game on any device with a screen. All you need is an internet connection. Amazing.
What this essentially means is that the days of paying $400 for PlayStation hardware are numbered. In fact, it's very possible that the PlayStation 5 (make no mistake, there will still be a PS5) will be a cheap-as-chips $50 set-top box that will do nothing other than stream content from the great PlayStation publishing cloud in the sky.
After all, who would pay excessive prices for a console that does nothing you can't do on your existing tech? Sony has never been able to make money from PlayStation hardware anyway, in fact it generally makes a loss. Woohoo cheap gaming for everyone!
Of course, this has long been mooted as a likely solution for gamers of the future. OnLive has already been streaming games for some time, and when Sony purchased Gaikai and it's game streaming technology in the summer of 2012, the writing was on the wall. But no one really knew what the plan was. Now we do.
So here we are, at the start of 2014 walking into a world where all Sony Bravia TVs could ship with a DualShock controller by default and offer access to every PlayStation game ever made. All you need is a robust connection, and that will certainly be the biggest obstacle to this tech becoming mainstream. That and the fact that PlayStation Now is initially only launching in a closed US trial with no worldwide launch date even hinted at. But it's coming...
The future of gaming
This news might miff some who've has just splurged a wad of cash on a PS4 or Xbox One, but don't worry - this cloud-based future is a way off yet. But it means the audience for games in the near future will be far, far bigger. It means graphics in games will no longer be bottlenecked by years-old console components.
It means more and better PlayStation games. Possibly even cheaper games as developers battle for your game-hours. The possibilities of this future really are endless and they're up for discussion right now. What's certain is that it's great news for gamers like you and me.
The games console is dead. Long live PlayStation.
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