Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Playstation Now Officially Announced, Some Details


It's been known for a while now that Sony intended on using Gaikai for something more than Remote Play between PS4's and Vitas - to stream full games to the PS4 as a sort of 'solution' to the end of not actually including a PS3 in the PS4 architecture.  There was talks of bringing such a service to the PS3 and Vita as well - after all, it wasn't a matter of the system's power itself by any means, but it wasn't that heavily stressed.  Still, that has very much changed with today's announcement as the service is slated not only for PS4, Vita and PS3, but Connected Bravia TVs (that you can sync a Dualshock with), Tablets and Smartphones, apparently.  I imagine you'll be using a sort of controller with those last two, as virtual controls seem less-than-serviceable (but will be included anyway), but those things do exist and I suppose they'll only continue to keep getting made.

Unfortunately, there was not an avalanche of details - a lot of the information is still vague and off a ways, but it's still confirmation and there's still some to be known here.  While they are aiming for all those different platforms, the PS4 and PS3 will be the main focus to start with, so I imagine when the 'full roll-out' happens at some point in Summer(!), it will just be for those, with Vita joining the service before the end of the year, hopefully before the end of Fall.  A Beta will also be held towards the end of this month, and whoever gets in will likely be the envy of all - I'm not quite sure what I'll do in the unlikely event that I get a Beta invite, however.  I'd -love- to try it but, well....I won't be able to use it, plain and simple.  So I would kind of feel bad if I got an invite, since I don't want to hand it off to someone else, but using it will mean I'm unfairly hogging a chance that someone with serviceable internet can make use of.  I guess we'll see, but I highly doubt I'll get an invite as I usually don't get invited to anything.  (Shut up, Haplo)

One of the pricklier topics about the method chosen for this whole Backwards Compatibility solution, however, has always been how it will handle the actual games portion and your 'ownership' of them.  Will you be able to buy and steam?  What about the games that you've already purchased, will you be able to stream them?  Is it just going to be a subscription thing?  Is that going to be included in Playstation Plus?  Unfortunately, this is one of the many topics that wasn't covered completely, but it wasn't ignored either.  Well, not -totally- ignored.

The service itself, as noted, is called Playstation Now, which will be something that you can subscribe to.  It's seeming like it will be separate to Playstation Plus, but hopefully, there will be some sort of discount to it if you're a Plus subscriber already.  Maybe.  That's just speculation on my part, though.  As for the methods of 'ownership' of the titles included, well, it's sort of a mish-mash of all the theories present.  I'm going to take an answer to a comment of the article for ease of use and explanation:
Hey boomstickbhg – With PS Now, you can rent by title for specific games, or you can choose a subscription that delivers additional value with a wide variety of genres. For example, you can try out a game by rental first, before deciding to actually purchase the full game and download it to your console. We believe this streaming game service will add tons of value to dedicated game consoles in addition to packaged and downloaded games, and in doing so, we will open up a new world of possibilities across PlayStation platforms.
Of course, one of the big reasons we are offering a closed beta is to get feedback on all aspects of the service, including of course the experience with rentals and subscriptions, so we look forward to hearing more feedback from our community as we move through the beta.
So you can rent a game individually, you can buy a subscription that grants you access to a library of games, and you can purchase games individually if you like them.  I imagine the "download it to your console" means you can try PS4 games and download them to your PS4 and similarly for PS3 games on your PS3, but not a combination thereof.  It does inconveniently leap over the question of games already purchased and the playing of them on consoles -other- than what they're available for (like playing PS3 games on PS4 as the main example), but I'd assume that's still something they're playing with.  It's likely hard to have a system set up to flag games from another source (your purchase history) and they likely don't want to promise something that they can't deliver on before knowing they -can- deliver on it.

At least, I find it hard to picture Sony, who has been the darling here lately, telling you that you have to rebuy your copy of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon through the PS Now library (or subscribe) just so you can stream it on PS4.  Which is, of course, ignoring the whole "Physical Media" thing entirely, but the Passport Program has shown that Next-Gen consoles can recognize an older gen game enough for a check.  (Since you have to have your PS3 version of a game in your PS4 to play the digital PS4 version and I assume the same for 360->XBone)  Stranger things have happened, I suppose, but I want to give Sony a little rope here since I'm relatively safe in assuming they won't try tying a noose with it.  It wouldn't be a death knell to the service, but it would be a sizable blow - especially to everyone who just wants to stream a bunch of shit to their Vita.  Like me.  In the fantasy world where I can do that.

While it wasn't a -lot- of details, it's far more than anyone expected to have this early I imagine, and that's a good thing.  The preamble of it sounds good, but we're all just waiting for the real meat of it.  When the Beta launches at the end of the month, I'm sure we'll get a few more details as well as some impressions, but until then, we're just stuck with what we've got which is a lot of hope and speculation.  Not like that's much different from how the situation was before today, of course.

I literally just realized the possibility of playing Blood Dragon on my Vita's OLED and I may have squealed a little

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