With just one day to go for Sony's event in New York where it is likely to announce the next generation PlayStation console, The Wall Street Journal reports that the company's new console will be integrated with a technology that will allow it to stream games via the Web.
Citing "people familiar with the company's plans", the report says that this potential streaming service will be designed to use current PlayStation 3 titles on the latest console and is also expected to play new games stored on optical discs.
It's no secret that Sony acquired Gaikai, a cloud-based gaming service that allows users to play high-end PC and console games rendered on remote servers via Internet streaming for $380 million. But the report doesn't specifically mention that Sony will use Gaikai to deliver brand-new games. Those will reportedly still be delivered on optical discs. Instead, the next PlayStation will allow users to access existing PlayStation 3 games on the new system using the streaming technology.
Earlier generations of the PlayStation console offer backward compatibility whereby users could play PS1 titles on the PS2 and the PS3 supported certain PS2 titles.
Sony's latest console is rumoured to have AMD X86 chips that do not support the architecture used in earlier systems. So streaming games via the Internet offers a great option to play PS3 titles that couldn't have been possible otherwise.
The report goes on to say that the company has been deeply investing in preparing the Gaikai service. To build streaming services, both technical and financial issues must be addressed on priority. OnLive another popular cloud-based gaming service met a terrible fate when the company had no option but to sell itself and declare bankruptcy due to heavy expenditure incurred on running many high-powered servers that can handle videogames.
What would also be interesting is to see whether or not Sony restricts streaming to the next PlayStation console alone. There's a possibility that the company could take the service to other internet-enabled devices such as the PlayStation Vita, the current PlayStation 3 and perhaps even capable smartphones and tablets.
Cloud-based gaming is expected to be the next-big-thing in the gaming industry. The possibility to instantly download the latest games or updates, say for a Metal Gear Solid or Call of Duty game directly from the Web, seems to be very close.
Sony is also reported to be looking at eliminating the market for pre-owned games. The company recently has patented a new disc-tagging technology that makes use of RFID chips, as opposed to Microsoft's always-on Internet connection. Sony filed a patent earlier this month for its upcoming PlayStation 4 console. This will tie the purchase of physical discs to a user's PlayStation Network ID. Part of the patent filing reads as:
Sony's biggest challenge, however, is to make the PlayStation 4 a part of the living room experience. Whether it successfully manages to offer realistic graphics and rich game play and blends the company's film, music, games and electronics together with the trend toward getting home entertainment online, will be clear once Sony unveils the highly anticipated new PlayStation console on February 20.