PlayStation Now, Sony’s streaming service which allows you to play PS3 games, is already available on a magnitude of devices, including PS3, PS4, and 2014-2016 Sony TVs and Blu-ray players amongst other devices. This means that potentially millions of people who don’t own a PlayStation console can experience over 400+ games offered by Sony. Think of it as the making of Netflix for gaming on a grand scale, and apparently that scale is about to get much larger.
Via a translation provided by the folks at PlayStation LifeStyle:
According to our information, the announcement is scheduled for 23 August with a launch in stride Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK in the first place, while the United States and Canada should be able to enjoy a week later. Availability dates for France or Japan are not known, but it is already acquired it takes at least a PC running Windows 7, an internet connection at 5 MB / s or more and a compatible controller (preferably a DualShock 4) to enjoy 300 games catalog from their computer. Available since 2014 in North America and 2015 in Europe and Japan, the monthly subscription to PS Now currently costs 17 euros in France.
For those paying attention, Microsoft is slowly transitioning Xbox away from a gaming console to a gaming platform that spans console and PC. In fact, this opens the door for MS to retreat from the dedicated home console market to a more general gaming platform on PC much in the way Steam and PC have become synonymous. While a retreat would be a positive for Sony in the short term as more people would flock to their console, seeing how they’d be the only player left (sorry but Nintendo doesn’t count), the long term implications would mean that under their current strategy, Sont could never take advantage of the hundreds of millions of PCs out there.
Unless you consider PlayStation Now. For Microsoft, this dual strategy of Xbox/PC is surely costly, especially as they optimize Windows in a way that can scale to consoles. In addition to that, Microsoft is building a game store that can compete with Steam in terms of feature sets and robustness. Ironically for MS, despite being the platform maker, they’re more than a decade behind Steam and Origins from EA, making it hard for them to catchup. Still, they see this as an initiative worthy of spending untold millions of dollars on.
For Sony, via PlayStation Now, all they have to do is simply release an app. Of course we should take the word simply in jest but where MS is creating games that can run on PC/Xbox and asking developers to do the same, Sony is taking care of all that on the back end, meaning that those 400+ games that are currently available on PS Now don’t need to be tweaked in order to run on the streaming service. Instead, when PS Now is launched on PC, as far as the service is concerned, you’re gaming on a PS3 that just happens to be thousands of miles away from you. But the genius of it all doesn’t end here. Not only is Sony not putting a burden on developers, but they’re also taking a burden off of the average PC owner. If you want to play Halo 5 or Rise on PC, you better make sure that you have a rig that can handle it. For PlayStation Now to be smooth, all you need is a computer that can more or less handle Netflix with an internet connection that has a minimum 5 MB down and holy shit, you’re suddenly playing Uncharted 3 or God of War: Ascension.
And sure, it’s only PS3 games today from PS Now while MS is offering some current gen titles, but how much longer before Sony feels that the average consumer internet is mature enough and that their servers are robust enough where they flip a switch and suddenly PS4 games also become available?
Again, like Netflix is making the transition to 4K video easy, assuming your TV set supports it, the transition from PS3 titles to PS4 titles will be extremely smooth for the service as well. With PS Vue, Sony’s TV streaming service out on iOS and Android, how much longer before PS Now becomes available on them as well? Suddenly, MS has retreated to PC which by all means is a dying platform where Sony in that same time has expanded to every platform under the sun, including PC.
I’ve argued plenty of times that the future of PlayStation is not a console but as a service and this only reassures me. It’s not a matter of if but when console PlayStations will come to an end and when it happens, it will be because of PlayStation Now.
If the rumor does pan out and its equally a matter of not if but when, the timing is curious to me. Why wouldn’t Sony want to unveil the expansion during their September PlayStation keynote? Perhaps that’s not to take away from the likely unveiling of PS4 Neo but I hope when the service does arrive, it gets more than a mention on the PS Blog as I wholeheartedly believe this is the future of PlayStation.
A little birdie told me to not be surprised if we see it arrive on Mac as well.
Do you think Sony is out-strategizing Microsoft with PlayStation Now? And do you think the streaming service is the future of PlayStation?