UPDATE: You can sign up for the PlayStation Now Beta right now at this LINK.
Sony's brand of home/mobile entertainment is making the move to the cloud. During the technology festivities going down at CES 2014, Sony announced their newest service - PlayStation Now. This new service is set to become the biggest cloud-based service for the company's slate of gaming consoles and home entertainment tech. Here's five of the most important facts you need to know about PlayStation Now.
1. It's a Streaming Service That Will Bring Games to Several Pieces of Sony Hardware
PlayStation Now is a cloud-based streaming service that will bring plenty of PlayStation games to the PS4, PS3, PlayStation Vita, televisions, tablets and smartphone devices. Users won't need to invest in specific boxes to utilize the service, since they can use PlayStation Now to play games across all the aforementioned devices. Users won't need to own a PlayStation console in order to use PlayStation Now, either. The service will also work just fine through the use of Sony-branded televisions, phones and tablets. Sony's Bravia TV's have been announced as one of the TV models that will offer support for PlayStation Now.
Polygon's Michael McWhertor spent some time with the PlayStation Now demo that was ready for play at CES 2013:
Performance in games like The Last of Us and God of War: Ascension was impressive. Lag input was noticeable, seemingly more so on Vita when moving The Last of Us' Joel and waiting a beat for him to respond, but more than playable. Even the higher frame rate, faster paced action of Ascension was playable, though compression artifacts and more muted colors were present. But the technology is striking, to say the least; these are capable, playable versions of PS3 games without the need for a dedicated console. Despite the small amount of latency, PlayStation Now already feels like a viable game-streaming option.
2. PlayStation Now is the Public Face of Sony's Gaikai Service
Sony acquired Gaikai, a cloud-gaming technology company, in June 2012. Previously, this tech acquisition was said to be capable of transporting PS3 games to the PS4. The announcement behind this new Sony technology was showcased at CES 2014, as showroom attendees had the ability to sample working versions of the streaming technology/game with The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, Puppeteer and God of War: Ascension. The Gaikai service was originally used to stream PC games to the internet and television through its partnerships with Samsung and LG. Sony acquired the technology in order to find a way to emulate PS3 games for several future PlayStation-branded devices. This new service could solve the backwards compatibility problem that disappointed some current owners of the the PS4 (you currently can't play PS3 disc/downloadable games on the PS4).
3. Gaikai Works on Several Devices
The Gaikai service that Sony acquired has the ability to work on several devices, since the games themselves aren't running on a local piece of hardware. Remote servers that are working in remote data centers actually run the games and stream compressed video frames of the games that work on your devices. The streaming input for the game is then sent from your touchscreen/video game controller to the Gaikai cloud, which works through a decent to really good internet connection. The Gaikai service is purported to be so good, thanks to its non-existent lag and low latency output.
4. Beta Testing for the Service Will Begin Later in January 2014
Andrew House confirmed that PlayStation Now will begin beta testing sometime later this month. A full roll-out of the streaming service is expected to launch sometime in the summer of 2014. Users will be able to either rent or subscribe/purchase PlayStation games. This games library will go all the way back to the PlayStation 2 slate of available titles. The save files for the games you acquire can be saved through PlayStation Now's cloud technology. PlayStation Now will initally be available on the PS4, PS3 and later on the PS Vita.
Sony noted that European PAL territories won't receive the service just yet:
Unfortunately we’re not quite ready to confirm launch plans for PAL territories. When it comes to broadband provision, Europe is a considerably more complex region, with a huge number of different providers and varying connection speeds from country to country. In short, we need a little more time to ensure a smooth and successful roll-out. Rest assured we are working hard to bring PlayStation Now to our region as quickly as possible
5. Sony Also Announced a Cloud-Based Live and Video-On-Demand TV Service
Sony also announced the coming release of a new cloud-based streaming service that will bring popular live television programs, DVR recording and video-on-demand content to several devices. This service, the Sony Entertainment Network, will allow users to use their social media accounts and their previous viewing history to help them discover newer options for games and television programming.
Andrew House, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, provided some comments on how folks can take advantage of PlayStation Now:
People will have all of their favorite movies, TV shows and sports programs all through a single destination. Our goal is to transform the user experience. We will make TV a more personalized and dynamic experience that caters to your preferences.