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.

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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