07
Jan
PSN thumb

Sony is a huge electronics and media company, so of course they aren't limiting their CES presence to phones. But there's one item that should be of interest to Android gamers: PlayStation Now. This newly-announced service will stream PlayStation games over the Internet to compatible hardware, and includes more than just PlayStation consoles. Sony explicitly announced support for the PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and certain Bravia televisions at CES, but the presentation and press materials say that support for phones and tablets will come eventually.

psnow banner

PlayStation Now is essentially the same as OnLive, except that it streams PlayStation console games instead of PC games. That's more significant than it sounds: this makes Sony the first of the big three console companies to completely disconnect the games it promotes from both physical media and conventional hardware. While streaming games from remote servers to the PS3 or PS4 has obvious applications, all you need to play on a compatible Bravia television is a PlayStation controller. This enables devices that wouldn't normally be capable of high-end console graphics access to PS3 and PS4 games, plus (potentially) a much larger catalog of older titles. Initial hands-on from the show floor show impressive performance, though there can be noticeable visual artifacts typical of streaming video.

Cnet has a hands-on look at a PlayStation Now demo, showing the PS3 game The Last Of Us on a Vita. "Our goal is to provide PlayStation quality regardless of the device, and that's first and foremost in our thinking," says Sony's Director of Strategic Planning Peter Jamshidi.

PlayStation Now will launch in closed beta in late January, but Sony is hoping to offer the full service with current and classic PlayStation titles by summer 2014. Current plans include both a Netflix-style subscription and individual game rentals. There are a few questions for Android gamers: when will full phone and tablet support be available? Will PlayStation Now be available on any Android device, or just Xperia-branded hardware? Will you need a PlayStation controller, or will controls be adapted for touchscreens like the somewhat abandoned PlayStation Certified system?

Sony is usually pretty open when it comes to sharing with other Android devices, or at least more open than their competitors - note that the Smartwatch and Smartwatch 2 work with any Android device. But since PlayStation Now will serve up media that's owned by Sony and its licensees, it will be controlled by another arm of the company, and there's really no way to predict what kind of hardware or software restrictions will be put in place. In any case, it's an exciting move - if Microsoft and Nintendo follow Sony's lead, we could be looking at console gaming utopia on Android hardware in another year or so.

PlayStation Now should be launched publicly in the summer. We'll be keeping a close eye on its progress.

Source: PlayStation Blog

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

    My guess on this is that Sony will most likely limit the service to it's Xperia devices at start and work their way from there to other android devices. The whole steaming games concept has fascinated me ever since I hear about OnLive. It'll be fun to tell someone you're playing the last of us with no PS3 and only an internet connection and a TV.

    • Robert Alex Kibler

      I don't honestly see them expanding past their Xperia devices. None of their other services ever did, except the PS4 app.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/77537273@N03/ Herman

        Ever heard of Playstation Certified devices?
        They go well beyond just Sony Xperia phones and tablets.

        Here's the list, in case you're interested: http://www.playstation.com/psm/certified.html

        • Sir_Brizz

          If by "well beyond" you mostly mean a few Sharp devices and a few HTC devices, I guess. Most devices are not Playstation Certified.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/77537273@N03/ Herman

            The last part is true. But, you can see Sony's at least trying to support multiple devices. It's a good initiative.

          • Sir_Brizz

            It is definitely better than only Sony devices, but they really should be doing a better job of adding more devices. I was hopeful when they announced the program but it fizzled out fast. The fact there isn't even a Nexus device on that list is just a massive letdown in my opinion.

      • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

        I think they're trying to go beyond the hardware and become a game service provider.

        I would see a reason to limit it to Sony devices if it was free, but if people are going to pay for such a service, they might expect to use it on a wider range of device, like on a PC, etc.

      • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

        I have tried OnLive before and the experience was amazing, when my internet connection wasn't being dodgy at least.

    • GraveUypo

      don't get your hopes up. the concept is cool but it's awful in practice.
      i first streamed games to my cellphon.... ok it was a netbook, but whatever, it was weaker than my current phone... back in 2008. it was cool to see crysis warhead running on a 7" netbook that could barely run quake 3, but it doesn't go much further than that. and that's because it was streamed over wired lan. over the internet it's terrible. only a few games are playable with the huge input delays.

      • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

        OnLive still works well on my end, the lag input isn't really noticeable unless you really pay attention to it.

        • Sir_Brizz

          It depends on the game and your connection. UT3 is a truly awful experience regardless of your connection because it relies so much on accurate and precise movement and aiming.

          Lego Batman, on the other hand, is a bit more forgiving and can actually be played. But whenever I play it on OnLive, there is tons of lagging, buffering, and artifacts. It's a noticeably worse experience than playing it on an actual device.

          • Davis Hernandez

            well here in mexico (far from the servers), darksiders 1 plays really cool, no noticeable lag at all, especially sice its a quick time events game (not all but most of the combos to execute an enemy require it)

          • Sir_Brizz

            The thing with Darksiders (and games like it) is that they give you seconds to respond, so if you have a reasonably fast response time, and the delay is only 100ms you probably won't notice the lag.

            I live within 100 miles of one of their data centers and, while some games play okay, most games have serious problems that I can't stand. Amnesia, for example, is frustrating to play because black with compression usually equals some amalgamation of colors and compression artifacts that totally ruins the experience.

            I think there is something to cloud gaming, I just think it needs to be together with another service. If Valve had a cloud based gaming platform that let you stream games from your library, but you still had the ability to download them and play them locally that would be a huge step in the right direction.

          • Davis Hernandez

            yeah amnesia fails for me but also i played homefront and the response was pretty good, also dirt 3 was pretty responsive (hell, if somebody thinks dirt 3 isnt that hard try doing the gymkhana events)

  • Kcls

    This could be huge. I'm really excited to see where this goes.

    I'm just imagining playing BF4 from my tablet now.

  • Rick

    I guarantee this is going to probably take a year after availability until Sony gets their servers up to par to deal with the load they'll be taking on. But this is going to be so awesome once they get everything ironed out. I think I might have to become a Sony fanboy soon.

    • Jipsee Seven

      This will be huge if it works, I've had my Z Ultra for a few months now and I love it. So I'm sure gaming on it will be an experience.

  • mustafa

    I hope it's xperia only. Get a few more people on our side

    • miri

      If they made phones for all 4 major carriers, sure - I'd buy a Z1 Compact in a heartbeat.

    • EowynCarter

      No way i'm getting an other Xperia, i was so disapoited with sony and the sola/

    • Robert Alex Kibler

      I'd love to get an Xperia if they weren't so expensive.

    • HolyFreakingCrap

      How could someone hope for that? What a douche.

  • dfshgdsfhs

    wow, my god. why Galaxy Note III smartphone is so popular in the world? almost everyone has one. why it is so attractive? can you explain it to me? I decide to buy one to have a try: http://xp.gd/fR

  • nebb

    Nope, thanks. I just need to stream PS4 to my smartphone locally via wifi.
    Internet on my country suck, really.
    Buying a PS2 + PS3 + Vita are still a lot cheaper than 10-month internet plan fast enough for game streaming.
    Please give us ability to stream PS4 to phone/tablet locally Sony.

    • Aravind J Nampoothiry

      Same here :(

  • Sergii Pylypenko

    When this thing will be available on Nvidia Shield, but not Xperia Play, because this joke of a gaming phone has only 2 shoulder buttons instead of 4... oh I will laugh.
    Come on, 512 Mb RAM and broken OpenGL drivers? What were you thinking, Sony?

    • Jason Bailey

      You're comparing something a phone that was released in 2011 to a dedicated gaming device that was released in 2013. Of course the xperia play is all but obsolete now, but it was a working product before the Shield was an itch in Nvidia's pants :-)

      • Sergii Pylypenko

        Yup, but users still demand Xperia Play optimizations from game developers, luckily they are less vocal now.
        I can understand demanding gamepad support, but not that touchpad emulating thumbsticks, and certainly not overcompressing your textures so you can fit into ~250Mb RAM that your game allowed to have on that device.
        Streaming game services might give a second chance to the Xperia Play though.

        • Jason Bailey

          Id say the Xperia Play is all but obsolete now. Best think it can be used for games wise now is emulators in my opinion.

  • Cebastian Rosing

    Awesome news, I really hope it comes through and plays well. I'm 99% sure of getting an Xperia this fall, I'm waiting for the second gen Z Ultra, so I wouldn't mind if it was Xperia only, just to focus on performance on those devices, and expand on that.

  • Funem

    I guess this is just a Sony version of OnLive. This will live or die on the cost they charge for the games I guess. OnLive was in theory a good product but it had lots of finical problems. Will be interesting to see how this pans out and the costs to the user.

    • https://play.google.com/store/search?q=kodiak+211 The_Walrus_Was_Jon_Q

      I could see this doing a little better than OnLive... Only because PSN has a huge user base... And if they support none Sony devices, I can see this taking off... The only problem I have with it, is having to pay, pay, and pay to play these games... I just hope they give us the options to buy some of these games, so we can play the games with out the subscription to the service... At least when it comes to the PS Classics...

  • http://www.designfacet.com/ Sean Jamshidi

    Proud of you Peter. Nice interview and all the best with PS4.

  • Oh boy!

    I have an older Bravia, but I'm not optimistic about support. I bought it brand new when I bought my PS3 5 years ago and the two Sony devices were not even compatible. Wouldn't output sound through HDMI. I even returned both and the problem persisted, despite both working fine on friend's equipment. Bravia support blamed PlayStation, and PlayStation support blamed Bravia. Thanks, Sony!

  • mustbepbs

    What better way to tackle mobile gaming than with actual games?

  • didibus

    Has anyone used OnLive though? It's a pretty mediocre experience compared to playing locally. Maybe in a year or two, with new codecs like H265, they could improve the service. But I find the internet is just too slow still for that utopia. Even local wifi streaming is barely fast enough for game streaming. I'm not convinced by this at all.

    • h4rr4r

      It is not the internet it is the speed of light.
      When you press a button that has to go back to their servers and then the action has to occur then transmit that image back to you. This has to happen in less than 50ms, ideally under 5ms. That means if their server is more than a few hundred miles away it cannot work.
      Local games that also use servers cheat to cover this up, MMORPGs and the like.

      • didibus

        Speed of light? Are you saying that even if transmitting data at the speed of light, which should be the theoretical limit, it would still have too slow a delay to work above a few hundred miles?

        • h4rr4r

          Pretty much. Twitch FPS games for instance and DDR clones are very sensitive to delay and humans will notice.

          • didibus

            I know, but I mean, you've actually done calculations? If I did it correctly, in 20ms light can travel 3720 miles. I'm not sure how that would apply to transferring data using light. It would probably be slower to do so. Anyways, maybe you're right, it does still seem distance would impact it.

    • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

      To me OnLive was good enough. Not that it cannot improve, but I wasn't frustrated by the input lag.

      • didibus

        It depends on the games you play. But games that are not turned based were way too laggy for me to enjoy. I also didn't like the compression artifacts the picture had. It was just never a great experience compared to playing locally on my PC. Maybe my connection was too slow or the OnLive servers too far away I don't know.

  • h4rr4r

    Nope sorry, not interested in dealing with the lag nor the loss of games when they end this.

    • https://play.google.com/store/search?q=kodiak+211 The_Walrus_Was_Jon_Q

      What lag?... You should wait until it at least comes out, before you judge it's performance... I can agree with the rest, but at the same time, we don't know their plans with this service...

      • h4rr4r

        The lag that the speed of light imposes.
        You press A that information has to go from your hot little hands to their server and back you your display device. This means you take the Distance and double it, then via multiply that by the speed of light. This will give you the minimum amount of lag possible. This means their servers have to be within a few hundred miles to make it not painful to use.

        • https://play.google.com/store/search?q=kodiak+211 The_Walrus_Was_Jon_Q

          I see what your saying... I still say let's see it in action first...

          • h4rr4r

            If understood what I was saying you would not need to see it in action. There are two options here Sony puts servers for this in every major US city and at least those on the coasts will have a good time, or it will suck for everyone.

        • shadowdude777

          You're implying that the data will be going over a fiber-optic cable for the entire length of the run, all the way up to when it enters the computer, which is obviously not possible. In reality, it will be far slower than what you just described, making it literally unplayable for fast-paced games like FPSes or fighting games, even if you're like a mile away from their server.

          Also
          > you press A
          > playstation controller
          ;)

          • h4rr4r

            I was just using that as a generic variable. Took every part of me not to say $A.

      • Primalxconvoy

        Er, the lag that every "hands on" report by journalists who have tested it recently have stated? You should read a bit before you at least judge their writing ;)

        • https://play.google.com/store/search?q=kodiak+211 The_Walrus_Was_Jon_Q

          Sry for telling someone, they shouldn't pre-judge a service, that's still not released to the public... If it means that much to you, that Sony fails with this service, keep hating, and enjoy... Mean while, I'm going to wait, until I can use it myself, before judging...

          • Primalxconvoy

            No one stating that lag will occur, is "hating" or "prejudging" anything. Journalists who have tried the service at the latest electronics show, coupled with observations of EVERY similar service or feature, regardless of platform, agree that lag occurs.

          • Davis Hernandez

            well i played onlive on my phone and there isnt noticeable lag (only when my internet connection is being used to lets say share internet to other 5 devices but overall its okay, also i played gaikai (the technology used here) before it was bought by sony and it was extremely smooth, i would risk to say it was even better than onlive

          • h4rr4r

            On your phone the input lag from the touchscreen is already way to high. I am talking about playing something like counterstrike. Think no aim assist, twitch gaming.

          • Davis Hernandez

            lol i didnt tried the touchscreen xD i used onlive first on a xperia mini pro and then on a galaxy tab with a sixaxis, and the game i was playing was homefront (something between cod and battlefield)

          • h4rr4r

            Both of those have considerable aim assist and are not twitch games. They are dumbed down FPS games.

          • Davis Hernandez

            well, by using a controller an almost any pc games the aim assist is on and you can turn it off, some examples are: borderlands 1 and 2, battlefield 3 and 4, homefront, i have to admit i had the assit on but after a week i turned it off, also played a bit of saints row 3 which has absolutely no aim assist and it wasnt bad at all

  • https://play.google.com/store/search?q=kodiak+211 The_Walrus_Was_Jon_Q

    I know one thing... My first gen Sony Blue-Ray Google TV won't see this service... It would be nice tho...

  • Jans

    Great sony we can stream those games we've been playing for years on Bleem on our old Pentium 2's. Just emulate it on your ps4 not that I ever plan to buy one of those. Maybe a Wii U if it supports the WiiMote

  • http://about.me/tysonayoung Tyson Young

    Onlive was ( and still is amazing for the games I own on it) and this just sounds great! I hope that it doesn't take 2 years to bring it to Android like Netflix took to release a mobile app.

    • Primalxconvoy

      Onlive was only great in a small part of the world (near the handful of servers they had). Anywhere else, and it was a stuttering, pixelated mess.

      • http://about.me/tysonayoung Tyson Young

        That is totally fair, I could see where that would be an issue. I luckily live in the West Coast of the US so I was near the server out of California or Denver or wherever it is.

  • John Bing

    5 Themes to Watch Out For at CES 2014
    bit.ly/19Zx692

  • Primalxconvoy

    This is Sony we're talking about here. If one division tries to canabalise sales from another, that division's product will get neutered or killed.

    I suspect that only Sony tablets and phones will get the service and then a handful of non-Sony devices will be "compatible" (like the "PlayStation Certified" devices). SCE will curtail the success of this initiative just like they did with the xperia play; because it involved mobile (and mobile is a threat to its division).

    I've already read that the inevitable lag (not Sony's fault) and rental only system in place for this scheme are helping to strangle this (admittedly interesting) scheme in its cradle.

  • EricOhhh

    PlayStation now on the new nexus 10 tablet that is expected to roll out in 2014's second quarter..........I wonder what the graphics and game play would be like on that beast!?!