One of the biggest game-related announcements of the year so far was made during CES 2014 when Sony revealed that it was using the tech it had acquired from Gaikai in order to create a new service called PlayStation Now, which will be revealed on the PS4.
The idea is that via the wonders of streaming, gamers will be able to play titles that were launched for the PlayStation 3 and the PS2, classics that are not available for the next-gen devices at the moment.
A beta stage is set to be offered at some point during the spring and PlayStation Now will be offered to North American players starting in early summer.
The idea is pretty cool because it manages to find a great use for the cloud technology that’s included in both next-gen consoles and is designed to offer gamers access to a huge number of titles that might be forgotten in the coming year, as more PlayStation 4 focused experiences are launched and applauded for their quality.
If PlayStation Now has a solid launch and delivers a good experience, then something similar will probably be offered by Microsoft for the Xbox One and competition between the two companies will mean that players will get even more value in the near future.
Gamers Need More Options
The only problem with the service, which might be a long-term success for Sony and might even find a solid audience, is that it should be unnecessary as long as the company did the right thing and offered a way to emulate the older consoles.
I understand that companies are trying to create as many revenue streams as possible and that content from previous hardware generations needs to be exploited.
I understand that a plan to make current releases outdated is needed to keep developers employed and to obtain the resources that fund future development.
But the best way to do this is not to sell subscriptions to PlayStation Now, a service based on tech that might need years to mature and also requires a solid Internet connection.
If Sony wants more money from PS3 classics, it should find a way to use the hardware power of the PlayStation 4 to emulate the older device and then sell collections of the titles that many modern players have never experienced.
The company has already said that there are currently no titles that max out the hardware of its platform, which means that even the most demanding games that were offered on its previous devices should run well, even when the emulation package is layered under them.
Sony will certainly find reasons why this is not possible, but the player community, especially those who have owned a PlayStation 3 or a PS2 or a Vita, should keep up pressure in order to convince the hardware maker of the right thing to do.
PlayStation Now will certainly become a reality in its current form in 2014, but if it’s less than impressive when it comes to the experience it delivers, emulation will probably gain a lot of supporters.
Such a solution would create a more diverse audience for the next generation of home consoles at only a small price for the companies that create and sell the hardware.
Rivals Should Work Together
An ideal future would be one in which Sony and Microsoft, and maybe even Nintendo, work together to emulate each other’s older machines on new hardware.
Such a move would clearly expand the borders of the gaming world and would allow players to explore content that they might not have enjoyed before.
The current isolation created by allegiance to the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 can continue when it comes to entirely new releases, but it makes little sense to separate gamers from the history of their hobby.
It is pretty unlikely that the rival companies will ever reach a deal to share title options and we might get to the launch of the Xbox Two and the PlayStation 5 without seeing normal emulation introduced.
But we need to talk about the option and about the way gamers would benefit from it because only public pressure can convince Sony and Microsoft to do the right thing.