Sony recently sent out beta invites for PlayStation Now, the company’s upcoming streaming service in which PlayStation 4 owners can play old PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 games on the new console. I highly doubt one of those invites will be coming my way, but count me among the excited PS4 owners.
Many people in the video game community were upset with the news that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One would not be backwards compatible. I still play plenty of PS3/360 games, which means I have a giant PS3 and 360 right next to my shiny new PS4. At a certain point I’m going to run out of room for video game consoles!
Sony aims to solve that problem with PlayStation Now. A key partnership with streaming company Gaikai was announced last year — an announcement met with both enthusiasm and skepticism. The idea of streaming old games sounds great on paper, but execution is the most essential component. If Sony does succeed, we’re looking at a huge boost for the PS4.
PlayStation Now will likely come with some kind of subscription service or rental fee for individual games, which creates an interesting dynamic. On the one hand, I feel weird paying for games I already own on previous Sony platforms. But at the same time, I know the limitations of my willpower. If I see a bunch of awesome PS2 role-playing games (RPGs) available to stream, I’m going to fork over the money. I’m like Fry from Futurama in one of those “Shut Up and Take My Money” meme images.
The option to stream also averts any need to download games, though that brings us to a potential concern. In order to use PlayStation Now, the user must have a reliable internet connection and bandwidth — a 5 Mb/second minimum to be more specific. Not everyone will meet those requirements, which cuts off a portion of the potential audience.
There’s also the chance that the service will not work as intended. Imagine playing an old PS2 classic, only to have your memories ruined by noticeable lag and other technical issues. That’s the pessimist in me talking, but Sony did recently show off the service to a select few. The press got some hands-on time with PlayStation Now at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last month, and The Last of Us and God of War: Ascension — both PS3 games — appeared to run well.
PlayStation Now will publicly launch this summer, and I sincerely hope it works. We’re still years away from having robust game libraries for the PS4 and Xbox One, but including PS1, PS2 and PS3 games all on one system definitely helps. Then I can actually have some more space for important things, like a gigantic TV.