On February 20th “The Future of PlayStation” Might Not Be the PlayStation 4, It Could be Something Bigger

In a couple of days, all eyes will be on the Hamerstein stage in New York City as Sony shows us “the future of PlayStation.” And while all signs point to a PlayStation 4 reveal, there’s another service that will likely steal the show. Sony’s purchase of Gaikai last summer for $380 million dollars may finally begin to bear fruit, and it could turn out to be Sony’s best move since, well… ever.

Late last week the Wall Street Journal reported that the PlayStation 4 will stream PS3 games. And while I’m sure that selling it as “backwards compatible” is partly the intent, it’s not really thinking big picture. Despite the fact that PS3 emulation on the rumored PS4 provides its own set of challenges due to the change in architecture, streaming over the web is likely in the favor of consumers: keeping hardware costs down since Sony won’t have to cram PS3 hardware into the PS4 — like they (initially) did with its predecessor. At the same time, it opens up PlayStation to a whole different idea since this “instant on” gaming works, for the most part, on the back end. Essentially, most consumer electronics with a screen that also happen to be connected to the internet could potentially become a PS3, PS2, and PS One.

A ‘PlayStation’, that doesn’t need an actual PlayStation.

This opens up completely new revenue streams for Sony and PlayStation. Think about the next time you shop for a new Smart TV and one of the features on the box is “PlayStation Ready.” The same could be said for your next set top box from your cable provider. Your next cell phone. Your next tablet; the list goes on.

PlayStation Cloud

A couple of years ago, something like this was unheard of. Especially since the speeds were simply not there. But as broadband penetration widens, the technological hurdles become smaller. Bottlenecks that might have existed last year are no longer issues in the next year. Some people will complain that these kinds of streams will only be 720p at first, and to those I say, show me when Uncharted 2 didn’t run in 720p and then I’d say you have a case. It will never be good enough to the most critical of pixel counters out there, but to the masses, It will likely do just fine.

This could also be a way that Sony can win over (some) gamers in the event that, like Microsoft is rumored to be doing, Sony too finds itself eliminating the use of used games on the PS4. There’s not enough evidence to prove that this is happening, however; there’s not enough evidence to prove otherwise. And while I won’t argue here where exactly Sony sits on that controversial fence, what I will say is that the ability to stream a game collection (at a decent subscription price, of course) will help to smooth things over just in case PlayStation does indeed go down the dark path of blocking used games.

In doing something like this, Sony has the ability to bring in some serious green. How much you ask? Well, if they were to get 10 million subscribers on board (and that’s being frugal), and charge let’s say $20 per month (on average, and assuming that there are different pricing tiers) that’s $200 million per month. The money that they paid for Gaikai would be made back in 2 months, and the service would bring in $2.4 billion per year. Not to mention that this doesn’t include the revenue that would be generated from controller peripherals that users would also buy to play the service on devices like tv’s, phones, and tablets.

We’re talking about PlayStation creating a business that hasn’t previously existed.

On February 20th, I’m sure that, just like others in attendance, I’ll be letting out my fair share of “oohs” and “aahs” while sitting inside the Hammerstein getting hit in my face holes with announcement after announcement. But if Sony pulls off what I think they’re about to pull off, they will set  gaming ablaze with excitement. Gaikai, or rather the technology that came from that acquisition, could prove to be “the future of PlayStation,” even more so than the PS4.

All aboard the hype train.


Join the Discussion

  • gakai is an awful move. This article is hilarous

    1) It would be a pay service, lame
    2) Streaming games is still not good.

    • “it would be a pay service, lame”

      I’m sorry I didn’t know that video games are free where you’re from.

      “Streaming games is still not good”

      Have you streamed a game before?

      • backwards compatibility is free yes

        and onlive was so bad.

  • lol what a lame article

    • Thank you for your calculated and well thought out contribution to this conversation.

  • RandomReduX

    I… really hope this isn’t the case. It doesn’t appeal to me at all.

    • Gul_pirak

      I understand, but this is where media is heading. There’s a very good chance this could skyrocket Sony. They’re looking at the average consumer.

      • extermin8or2

        no there ins’t because as impressive as the tech behind this is- some 80% of the population in the main markets for sony won’t have access to internet good enough to supply this consistently. They’d cut out so many people it’d be rediculous- not just because people have not yet bothered to get high speed internet but because in the uk, europe, usa and japan there are plenty of areas where the old copper wiring hasn’t been replaced and wont be for some time.

        •  yeah…i myself am a subscriber to low bandwidth and this worries me.

          • extermin8or2

            ps4 is pretty safe-you should be able to play offline just fine-xbox… maybe not if the dev has tried to use the cloud services MS are promising-but it’s impossible to do with the slow web available to many.

      • RandomReduX

        Personally I’ve always felt this obsession with a cloud based future was for the tech enthusiasts far more than the average consumer. Some of the hardcore might care, but I dunno about the ‘average consumer’ who are still happy even to buy and rent DVDs rather than consider moving to Netflix. But maybe that’s just my local area; all I know is I’ve only ever seen the hardcore even talk about this stuff for games. I don’t think it’s headed this way as fast as we may think.

        • It’s for businesses. All new tech that comes down the pipe half baked, like Wi-Fi and streaming, The big push behind Wi Fi was that businesses LOVED the idea of getting internet to each of their computers without having to put wires through the walls. Businesses want to see the “cloud”, so that they can rent a internet based processor for applications that need it, instead of buying an expensive computer to do the job.

    • leejohnson222

       well that’s why it would be subscription you pay for the service or not, i think its a very bold and innovative idea, i don’t think i would go for it, unless gta 5 and the last of us were not ported to ps4 then i may have to think about this. PlayStation games on demand with smart tvs would be incredible, i think the idea is amazing for sony’s business.

      • RandomReduX

        Judging from how many gamers have reacted extremely negatively to the idea of always-online being needed for gaming (just look at the reaction to that XBox rumor!), I doubt it’ll go over that well. And let’s not even get into people who live in places with really crap bandwidth restrictions with high overage rates… like, oh, practically the whole of Canada. Nah, I suspect only a small niche of techheads will be excited for this sort of thing.

  • If gaikai turns into a full fledged PSN paid service it will prove to be the best move Sony makes… as long as they keep online gaming free so all the narrow minded will be content.

    • There’s really nothing narrow minded in keeping online gaming free. 

      • I think you misunderstood me.

  • The cloud/digital is the future meme is getting rather tiresome. 

  • Karson King

    I like turtles!

  • Dallasgeeks

    “bear fruit”, not “bare”

  • DarthDiggler

    I agree this would be a good move with the way that Sony treats Remote Play on PSP and PS Vita, I don’t see it happening.  Unless they have been sandbagging this for the time being.

  • GW

    Of course, screwing millions of low/no broadband users out of even thinking of buying a new console is something Sony and Microsoft haven’t even discussed (or seem to have thought about), but I’d bet they’ll see the light when a ton of people suddenly aren’t playing games on those shiny new systems simply because they live in areas with crappy connections.

  • I play on PC and download most of my stuff from Steam. But if the big “announcement” is Gaikai, i’d be rather annoyed and letdown. I could care less about an all online gaming platform, that sounds terrible. At least with my PC games I can play WITHOUT internet. What would you do if you didn’t have that? Good luck! Plus Comcast sucks, they’ll never go for this. They will throw a fit and charge you an arm and a leg to allow you to use this much bandwidth. I could even see them making a new pricing tier for “Gamers” F that, I just want my disks for my consoles. 

  • The math is wrong in this article.  10 Million x $20.00 is 200 million a month (not a year).  It would calculate to 2.4 billion dollars a year.

  • Django

    Be prepared for disappointment. Sony=lies and overhype that won’t deliver in the end.

    • SirCush

      Except when it does :p

      • Django

        Which is NEVER!

  • If we could just start up a game whenever we wanted for a fee we pay each month or whatever sounds amazing.  How anyone would think that’s a bad idea… I just don’t understand.  This article is pretty awesome.  Never thought about a Playstation Ready tv.  Nice.

  • Tone Capone

    Cloud base gaming is a long way from being realized, with most of the united state having the worst internet connections apart from major city this will not work. streaming anything take alot of bandwith if sony is going to add a cloud base system it might be something like Steam where game are downloded into the console installed then played. We all need to wait untill tommorow when sony reveals the big news hopefully they wont disappoint all of us.

  • they arent going to go full streaming guys, come on dont be stupid. They know that disc media still has many years left and until the entire developed world has fast broadband they won’t do that. Like the author assumes they are going to use it for streaming PS3, PS2 and PS games to your PS4, through the gaikai system. What we really need to be asking is how much it will cost and if we can stream the games we have now for free. If not I would hope that under the PS+ a small charge for each game you play is payed that seems fair to me so £40 a year for PS+ and then maybe £5-£15 for a game depending on age and then maybe rental prices etc etc.