Friday, February 15, 2013

And Now the Wall Street Journal Says PS3 Streaming

One of the more persistent rumors about the PS4 is that, due to the drastically different architecture of the device, it won't be able to do native PS3 Backwards Compatibility due to leaving out 'The Cell" processor that the PS3 wholly relied on.  That is a definite possibility at this point, hell, I might as well say it's a probability, which is a Bad Thing™ since not only does it mean you can't pop in a PS3 game and play it on your shiny new PS4, but it will be difficult, if not impossible to bring over your PSN games as well, what with them being, you know, built on the PS3's architecture and all.  If anything, that latter point will be the one that stings the most since, well, digital games are a whole other beast from physical ones and if anything, -those- are the ones that are supposed to move with you.  Not allowing that library to shift onto newer platforms just seems like a move that will give more ammunition to everybody else.  If it goes down like that, that is, though I don't see how it's anything but an All-or-Nothing deal.

However, plenty of people have been suggesting that Sony's acquisition of the Game Streaming Service Gaikai, done sometime last June, will be implemented as a bandage for that wound.  It's all been speculation at this point, though Joystiq says that the Wall Street Journal is saying it's a definite thing.  Normally, I wouldn't give this any water to hold, and I'm still not saying I do, but the Wall Street Journal -is- the ones who said the PS4 is getting announced the 20th and released sometime this year, with much of the same certainty.  Who's to say that either report is correct, of course, though this streaming rumor has been circulating around long enough that I actually wanted to bring it up (again) in a more directed manner since I've only really touched on it in the past.  This pretty much just gave me the perfect excuse to do just that, so I decided to run with it.

The few times I have spoken about Streaming as a BC solution, I have been wholly negative and against the idea and that has not changed whatsoever.  First off, nobody, least of all me, knows just how in the hell Sony would actually plan to implement such an idea and each method carries caveats, some exclusive to that method, some not.  The general basis theory is that there will be this library of PS3 games, both retail and PSN-only that may or may not be the current digital library that will be available for streaming.  Things like Journey, KOEI games (goddamn you KOEI), and whatnot will all hopefully be present, meaning the libraries will match and you will theoretically have the same access to the same digital pool.  Except, let's face it, the library that you can buy on the PS3 and the Library of PS3 that you can stream will 100% not be a 1:1 match because problems with certain games handle data and loading, problems with licensing and just general problems.  So there's our first fault.

The next question is:  Who gets to access what in this digital pool?  Do you, by virtue of having a Playstation Network account get to stream Warriors Orochi 3 on the PS4 because you bought a PS4?  Probably not.  Do you, by virtue of having a Playstation Network account get to stream Warriors Orochi 3 on the PS4 because you bought it on the PS3?  That....would seem like it's the right idea, but it's hard to say.  It's hard to not picture that the streaming service will not, in some way, be a part of Playstation Plus, which just adds a whole new level of confusion to the mix.  Do you only get to stream if you have PS+, then?  Is that copy of Journey you purchased stuck on your PS3 unless you then also subscribe to PS+?  Do you only get access to games that you 'own' for streaming even with PS+?  (Though, provided the IGC continues, PS+ will gradually expand your library anyway)  It's convoluted, too much so, and though we might understand it, eventually, who else is?  Nobody.  How would you even market it if it was the highest case of the 'If's?  If you have a PS4, If you bought this game on your PS3 and If you have PS+, then you can totally stream it on the PS4, provided it's actually in the library of titles that can be streamed?  Who's buying that?

This is all, of course, ignoring the simple execution of such a thing.  Sony's servers for downloading PS3/PSN/PSP/Vita games have not been hailed as, well, the fastest, or even fast enough and while I'm assuming Gaikai's servers would be the ones being used instead, there's still quite a lot of things there if, in fact, the entire current digital library would be available for streaming.  Which, again, it won't be, and there won't be -more- options than the current library unless there are some massive shenanigans that make it possible.  So from server-side, it's hard to imagine that it's going to be fantastic and that is not even considering user-side whatsoever.  Personally?  My internet is shit, I've told everyone who will listen to this.  I can stream music with Music Unlimited and I can watch SD Netflix without a buffer.  I cannot do -more- than one of these things with the internet at a time.  I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that I cannot stream DmC:  Devil May Cry, Vanquish, Bayonetta, Dead Space of any variety and so on and so forth.  Hell, I probably couldn't stream Final Fantasy VII.  I am nowhere -near- the minority in this.  And even folks that -can- stream these games feasibly have to contend with internet companies far more prone to gnashing their teeth whenever you get close to a certain amount of internet usage per month, which, this sort of thing will eat away at like crazy.

At this point, I have no doubt in my mind that PS3 BC will be done through streaming rather than Hardware.  I can do nothing but sigh and make a little hand gesture at that.  It's a bad idea with bad precedent, bad repercussions and it's going to be the center of more than a few vitriolic rants from people around the internet, some influential, some not.  I'm still holding out hope that at least the smaller games, things like the mentioned Journey, like Retro City Rampage, like the upcoming Urban Trials Freestyle will be able to be downloaded, installed and played on a PS4, but I have no idea how that will be possible without a Cell.  Or how it will be possible to do PSN games, but not PS3 games.  So my hope is obviously waning a bit on that front.  Hopefully the Playstation Meeting will give me something to assuage my fears and doubts, but I really do not see how it could.  Still, the 20th cannot come fast enough so this unpleasantness is out in the light, rather than left in the wondering areas of our brains where things will almost always be -worse- somehow.

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