PlayStation Now preview: hands-on with Sony's cloud game streaming

Perhaps the biggest news from Sony's CES press conference this morning was the announcement of PlayStation Now...


Perhaps the biggest news from Sony's CES press conference this morning was the announcement of PlayStation Now. The end result of Sony's acquisition of Gaikai, the streaming service will initially let players access PS3 games on a variety of Sony devices, including PS3, PS4, Vita, and new Bravia televisions.

Being able to play God of War: Ascension on Vita was impressive, especially given how unreliable wi-fi can be at a conference as congested as CES. The novelty may have worn off for PS4 Remote Play users, but the ability to stream full console quality games to the handheld is nonetheless impressive.

PS4 Remote Play impressed me when I reviewed it late last year, but I noted that there was noticeable lag when it came to button inputs--and that's over a local wi-fi connection. Surprisingly, the demo I played at CES performed far better: it felt like there was mild lag while controlling Kratos, but I was able to play through an entire boss (QTEs and all) without a hitch. In terms of video quality, it is evident that the game isn't running natively on Vita. However, even with a little bit of artifacting, God of War was still quite the stunner running on Vita.

It's clear that not every game will be ideal for play on Vita via PlayStation Now. Vita is missing the L2, L3, R2, and R3 buttons, and they're awkwardly mapped to the rear touch panel of the system. (L2, for example, would be the top left corner of the touchpad.) That might be a little awkward for players of games where those buttons are used frequently, like first-person shooters. However, I didn't get any hands-on time with one, so I'll have to reserve my judgment.

Control will be less of a concern on PS3 and PS4, which is where the upcoming beta will debut. However, I wondered: how will Bravia TVs be able to access the content on Now? The service will be available on newer Bravia models, ones that have Bluetooth built-in. You'll be able to sync a DualShock 3 controller to your TV, letting you play games through an app you can access through your television.

There are all sorts of questions that went unanswered during my demo. For example, I unlocked a trophy during play--will those be able to communicate with your existing PSN account? And how will PlayStation Now work on devices like smartphones and tablets? Will you need to sync a DualShock, or will you be able to use (potentially terrible) touch-screen controls? However, with the beta launch focused on PlayStation consoles for now, Sony won't have to answer those questions quite yet.

Andrew Yoon was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 7, 2013 2:10 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, PlayStation Now preview: hands-on with Sony's cloud game streaming.

    Perhaps the biggest news from Sony's CES press conference this morning was the announcement of PlayStation Now...

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      January 7, 2014 3:45 PM

      Andrew did they go into details whether you can buy individual games? I have only seen announcements for a subscription or renting games.

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      January 7, 2014 5:24 PM

      Yo dawg I heard you like playing PS3 games on your PS3...

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        January 7, 2014 9:54 PM

        Try out any game in the catalogue with no download to wait for? I would think that would be a draw.

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      January 7, 2014 8:46 PM

      So, Microsoft's the one with a massive data center, but Sony's the one streaming games. What am I missing?

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        January 7, 2014 9:52 PM

        Sony has been investing in their network. Pretty sure they announced that with the original PS4 announcement. Since then they have been saying they have comparable services to MS whenever asked about cloud computing. My memory is telling me $500 million investment just by the end of 2013 or something like that. But that is a tired brain memory.

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        January 8, 2014 8:58 AM

        It's also the tech they got with the Gaikai purchase last year. This is also in-line with what Nvidia did with Kelper when it was first announced. They designed the tech to be usable in a virtual gpu method where you'd use it to run these kind of streamed game services. Couple it with what Nvidia is doing now with the game streaming tech on Shield and even with the g-sync stuff, and you can see how Nvidia is really pushing hard to be the front runner in this area. Smart play actually. Expense since they have to pioneer so much of it, but should pay in the end if they can win back both Sony and MS - or do their own thing or double down with Steam. The possibilities are plentiful for them.

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      January 7, 2014 8:52 PM

      As someone who has an xbox but doesn't own a PS3, this makes me more interested in a PS4 (instead of a xbone) because I would be able to play (hopefully!) those PS3 exclusives that seem like such great games I would enjoy. Last of us would be a perfect example.

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      January 7, 2014 9:03 PM

      Really excited about this! I hope it works well and comes soon (to many devices). Ever since OnLive hasn't added any games in like a year, I've had nothing to play... >_>

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      January 7, 2014 11:12 PM

      This is going to rock. Valve should do this. Access your catalogue from their servers and pay a monthly subscription. I'd get both.

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      January 8, 2014 3:40 AM

      1) You're paying for BC as a service, which is a rip off.

      2) Why does *no one* think that this is going to eat up bandwidth caps like mad.
      This service is of *zero* use to anybody with limited internet data - which is most of North America.

      Unless Sony is starting its own ISP, no matter whether it appeals to people or not, a lot of people just won't be able to use it.

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        January 8, 2014 5:54 AM

        You don't build a business plan based on current state - that's a recipe for failure. Those who want this service will purchase the necessary bandwidth.

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          January 8, 2014 6:14 AM

          Agreed. Just look at the technology increases since Netflix streaming became available. I can watch Netflix on a frickin phone now. Online shopping wasn't even really a thing when Amazon started. Now look at it. Even in the console world people thought it was CRAZY for MS to require a high speed connection for Xbox Live. High speed internet in 2002 was still a fairly new thing for a lot of people.

          Sony is setting up a system that I'm sure they hope to grow even after the PS4 is gone.

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            January 8, 2014 8:51 AM

            Google Fiber.

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            January 8, 2014 10:30 AM

            Agreed. Just look at the technology increases since Netflix streaming became available. I can watch Netflix on a frickin phone now.

            Awesome. Now go for a drive in the country and play that cellphone movie. Or for that matter get out of town a ways and try to do it plugged up. The regions of sub-broadband, or even 4G, speeds in the USA are vast.

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          January 8, 2014 9:01 AM

          This is actually a good argument. The cable ISP have said to congress that their consumers don't really want more bandwidth; which we all say is a sham, because you know Netflix.... But, pushing this kind of new business model will instantly generate that kind of demand. Cable ISP's cry about monetization of the last mile is about to crushed - I hope. Much the same way that the telco's can't use this argument.

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      January 8, 2014 10:45 AM

      Thinking over this I'm wondering now if the next round of consoles were 100% streamed, if that would incite the major publishers to sue both MS and Sony on grounds of Anti-Trust - meaning that MS and Sony own too much of the entire pipeline, especially distribution. See what happened to end Hollywood's Studio System as an example. That might allow for other companies to have their own clients on a MS or Sony console to allow game distribution from a 3rd party. I could certainly see EA going after this.

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