When gaming giants Sony purchased Gaikai for $380 million back in 2012 players and the media alike speculated that this would result in a move to the cloud. The recent PlayStation 4 preview in New York confirmed all the rumours.
Despite the actual console still remaining a mystery, Sony did reveal a number of details about the hardware, which promised a powerful unified system memory, a camera with 3D sculpting technology and the Dual Shock controller which boasts a touch pad and the controversial Share button, which gives players the option to upload recent game play to social networks.
However, one of them most exciting and innovative features of the new PlayStation 4 is the heavy emphasis on cloud gaming technology. Players will be able to purchase games from the Sony online store and play them immediately whilst they download, with no installation time required. Game information will also be stored in the console’s RAM, allowing players to suspend play without disrupting their gaming experience.
This isn’t a new phenomenon; games that require no download or physical purchase have been popular since the rise in smartphone technology, with companies such as EA and Money Gaming targeting their products towards mobile and tablet devices. However, with the PS4 Sony is set to promote a mainstream move to cloud gaming technologies which could revolutionise the way modern games are consumed.
Players will be able to use the PS4 as a game server, with games from the PS4 being able to be pulled and accessed from PS Vista devices. Apps will also allow players to view auxiliary information from an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet while gaming on the console.
The PS4 will also actively promote Sony’s online gaming catalogue by automatically downloading content based on the users gaming history. The recommended titles are then instantly available when the player decides to purchase them.
Speaking about the cloud technology developed for Sony’s newest gaming release Gaikai CEO, Dave Perry said: “Instantly experience anything you want. Pay only for the games that you fall in love with.”
The news does raise several concerns amongst players who have already purchased DVD games for the PS3, which are not compatible with the new PS4 architecture. Although a PlayStation EU tweet did suggest that games from the former PS1, PS2 and PS3 consoles will be available via the cloud, it is still unknown as to whether or not players will be required to pay again for products they already own.
The internet reliant technology has also sparked questions as to how Sony will prevent lag and ensure the gaming experience in all national markets is first rate. Whilst Sony ensures the US and Asia will receive fast internet connections, Australian and European markets will have to wait and see if they experience delays in gaming.
The console is set to face fierce competition from Microsoft’s Xbox 720 when it is released later this year, so whether Sony’s considerable investment in the new infrastructure will be profitable is yet to be seen.