Sony has patented the 'PS Cloud' with the US Patent and Trademark Office, following the announcement of a number of new 'cloud gaming' services such as OnLive and Playcast Media at this year's Games Developers Conference.

The patent has lead to speculation that Sony Computer Entertainment may well be looking to 'cloud gaming' – where the processing power of a home console is replaced by that of a remote server outside of the gamer's home – as a strategic move forward for its PlayStation division.

The future of PlayStation?

Or, put in more straightforward terms, is PS Cloud the PlayStation 4? Is the 'next' PlayStation going to resemble a server-based system that allows gamers to play and save games to a user account via a range of devices such as their PlayStation 3, their PC or even their TV set-top box?

Sony filed the patent for 'PS Cloud' on 24 March, describing PS Cloud as a provider of "entertainment services, namely, providing an online videogame that users may access through the internet".

You can see further details on the filing here.

TechRadar spoke with a SCEE rep this morning who declined to comment on the story.

Let the speculation commence…