Sony buying Gaikai for cloud gaming service

It had been rumoured before E3 that Sony was partnering with Gaikai, but Sony Computer Enterainment announced today that it's actually outright buying the cloud gaming company for $380 million. SCE say it's planning to "establish a new cloud service" with the tech, which allows players to run snazzy games on low-spec hardware.

"By combining Gaikai's resources including its technological strength and engineering talent with SCE's extensive game platform knowledge and experience, SCE will provide users with unparalleled cloud entertainment experiences," CEO Andrew House said in the announcement.

"SCE will deliver a world-class cloud-streaming service that allows users to instantly enjoy a broad array of content ranging from immersive core games with rich graphics to casual content anytime, anywhere on a variety of internet-connected devices."

Sony's various tablets and Internet-enabled televisions seem likely targets for the tech, which would let them play proper fancy PlayStation 3 games. Gaikai runs games remotely in server farms then streams video footage back to the user, so you can play games on other platforms which could never actually run them. The initial Sony-Gaikai rumours had said that it might be used for backwards-compatibility with original PlayStation and PS2 games on the PS3 too, a feature which was removed from recent revisions of the hardware.

Unlike the other big name in cloud gaming, OnLive, Gaikai was focused on streaming as a way to demo games in browsers or to bring them to mobile platforms, rather than a straight digital distribution service replacing boxed copies. Given the strengths and limitations of cloud tech, we'll likely see Sony continue along similar lines.