9th Jan 2014 | 03:31
Boasting an unknown number of PS3 games streaming at launch
Backwards compatibility may have gone the way of the dodo but now Sony has introduced a way to play its last-gen games, and you don't even need a PlayStation 3 or 4.
PlayStation Now could be the Netflix of video games. Through a subscription or a la carte rental payments players can stream PS3 games in 720p, no console required.
Solid Snake on your iPhone?
PlayStation Now won't be exclusive to Sony products forever. The Japanese electronics behemoth has said its goal is to support a "broad range of Internet-connected devices." This includes non-Sony TVs and smartphones.
At Sony's mega booth at CES 2014 I spent a little hands on time crushing mythological monsters and skulking through the apocalyptic wasteland.
My demo used a Sony Bravia TV with DualShock 3 controllers connected directly to the TV. A Sony rep told me that Bluetooth is the only requirement to get controller playing with a TV. At launch, only the PS3's DualShock 3 will be supported for direct television play.
Four games were playable at the CES demo: God of War: Ascension, Puppeteer, The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls. I played the first three and was impressed with the latency of the controls, which showed zero lag.
However, the visuals were a bit of a downgrade. God of War and Last of Us, known for being real system pushers, looked noticeably fuzzy at times. There were also some pretty big initial load times.
The opening load time on The Last of Us, known for being pretty epic, came out to a minute and thirty seconds, according to my iPhone's stopwatch. That could be due to the internet being slammed by convention-goers, or just the early nature of the Now service. Either way I'm hoping performance improves by the time its opened to the public.
The cloud advantage
While latency could be an issue, Sony is saying that a 5 Mbps connection is all that's required for PlayStation Now. Basically, if your internet connection can support Netflix, Now shouldn't be a problem.
And having your data up in the cloud will mean your saves will follow you across your devices, wherever you choose to log in from.
You'll also never need to worry about patching, since the server will always be dishing up the latest version.
A lot is up in the air
Even though Sony was letting people try the service, there's still a lot it won't say about PlayStation Now. First, there's the price.
Sony has said that users will be able to choose between subscription and per title pay-to-play rentals. It hasn't said how any of that will be priced, or if subscriptions will provide unlimited play, or be tied somehow to PS Plus.
Also, Sony has yet to divulge what games will be available at launch, or down the line. Reps at CES couldn't even confirm that the four titles at the demo would be ready to stream. They also wouldn't say anything about PlayStation 2 and original PlayStation games, just that they were "a possibility."
Despite all the unknowns and the graphical half step backwards, PlayStation Now is one of the most exciting bits of gaming news to come out of CES. As a life-long gamer, I sorely miss backwards compatibility. Having Sony's amazing back catalog at my disposal would be incredible, especially for a flat fee.
This could be the HBO GO of video games, and I'm excited to hear more about the lineup, and when I'll be able to play The Last of Us on my Vita. Sony has a closed beta planned for the end of January; expect more news once that kicks off.