Yesterday we brought you a taste of Microsoft’s view of the future for Xbox 360. Today we continue the look at how storage methods could change for the PlayStation 3 in the near future. With the announcement this Tuesday that the PlayStation Network will now be supported by all six major movie studios, for not only the rental, but also purchase of High Definition movies, it feels almost like the stage has been set for something even bigger. With HD Movies now available to own, the disappearance of the PS3 250gb Slim bundles, two new PS3 SKUs emerging, and various other mysterious happenings lately it feels like something massive heads our way. Read more for a little insight as to what this all means and what the heck PS Cloud might be.
If you haven’t heard, Sony Computer Entertainment has been making a stir in the headlines lately with claims that 250gb bundles of the PlayStation 3 slim are selling so fast it has created a shortage. DualShockers has been witnessing a lot of these “shortages” from the big three console hardware giants Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft lately and every time a shortage happens we are met with a new bundle that is about to be announced. Wouldn’t you know it, recently Wireless Goodness shined some light on two new bundles coming soon for the PlayStation 3 Slim. With GDC’s enlightening announcements we now know that one of these bundles will come with the PlayStation Move. With HD Movies available to own it would be very reasonable to expect these bundles to contain larger than life hard drives, I’m talking 500gb, 640gb, maybe even 1terabyte of storage stock baby! Okay so you might be thinking, that sounds great but what does that have to do with something called PS Cloud?
Over a year ago Sony Computer Entertainment registered the trademark “PS CLOUD”. The very concept behind cloud computing is something that transformed what was thought to be possible for digital distribution. The idea is that a virtual space exists on a network of servers where you can store content you purchase. In the way that users of the PlayStation Network can download games they own on to their new systems already, similarly the PS Cloud’s storage space would contain all of the movies and games you purchase. The difference from the system in place already and PS Cloud is that with PS Cloud you do not have to download the files at all! Instead you can save your hard drive space for other things as the PS Cloud’s virtual space acts as additional gigabytes of storage to actually hold and run your games and movies from remotely.
Take a look at this registered trademark for Cloudsurf by Sony Corporation. This could be the very tool that PlayStation Cloud users would be using to browse the massive distribution library of available, owned, and rented movies and video games. Notice that I said rented movies and video games. Have you ever dreamed of renting High Def PS3 games digitally from the comfort of your own home, much like the way many people currently rent movies digitally? If so, PS Cloud has got your back. The cloud computing theory envisioned by gurus of the computing world would enable PS Cloud to offer full AAA title game rentals! The best part is no more waiting for downloads.
In addition to all these new features, the PS Cloud is also predicted to further the universal sign in system on the PlayStation 3. Players would presumably be able to sign in from any PS3 and access all of their game stats, trophies, and saves as well as keep up with their friends using enhanced communication methods. Another registered trademark from Sony leads to a bit of mystery as “voyAgent” could mean many things. It could be localized name for PS Cloud or something else entirely.
Sony has also patented a form of “deteriorating” demo which basically means that in the future game demos will be reborn, if PS Cloud has anything to do with it. Users will hypothetically be given games in their entirety for a period of time and even receive a grace period where parts of the game remain intact after the demo is over. Slowly content will be removed, feature by feature, one by one, leaving you with the extended time to evaluate certain parts of the game and decide whether or not you should buy or rent the game through instant PS Cloud access. In addition to the nearly unlimited amounts of movie storage, these new game rental and extreme demo features make PS Cloud a tantalizing prospect for gamers. For some time now we have seen innovations in the way publishers digitally deliver demos and games, but a move like this would be the most major leap in game distribution to date.
Although the full potential implications of PS Cloud are largely unrealized at this time, its safe to say that when it is announced (presumably at E3 ‘010 or after as Playstation Move stole the show at GDC) it is going to make waves throughout the industry. Even this massive addition to the PlayStation Network may be just a part of something bigger. There have been a lot of rumors lately about some type of voice chat system being beta tested for PlayStation Network, as well as talks about premium features and subscription fees. I personally hope some sort of “one-fee-pays-all” access to upcoming Massively Multiplayer Online games from Sony Online Entertainment like The Agency would also be included in this premium fee to keep the entry barrier slight for MMOs on PS3. This seems an almost crucial move with all the upcoming real time MMOs.
Could this PS Cloud be a part of a bigger, better, new PlayStation Network that will be released to exist in parallel to the free PSN? There is a major possibility that these new PS3 slims, imminence of a PS Cloud announcement, as well as voice chat rumors and deteriorating demo patent have all been pieces of a soon-to-come PlayStation Premium Online service. Microsoft has talked about cloud computing at times but it seems Sony may have beat them to the punch. I think its safe to say that if even half of these services are allowed to see the light soon, the PlayStation 3 is going to continue to turn heads well into the end of this generation in gaming.