Microsoft’s and Sony’s new console will be revealed in 2013, but what has many gamers and gaming writers anxious and worried is whether the new consoles will incorporate cloud gaming. With the news of Sony’s $380 million acquisition of GaiKai, which offers cloud-based service for accessing video games online with no need of any additional hardware, many are wondering if this is Sony’s next step for its upcoming console. What it could mean is stream games straight to a console with no updates, downloads, porting, or extra hardware for old games to work. A library of all games for the PlayStation could simply be made available online for any gamer to play to their hearts content. Games could be able play conveniently and easily through the service that would be offered through paying for access with no download. This could open new opportunities for more potential gamers to play games they couldn’t before as the prices for consoles would significantly drop due to the likelihood of less hardware needed.
The downside to this “too good to not be sci-fi” experience is the amount of bandwidth that is evolved. We’re talking about Xbox live on an even more massive scale. This type of magnitude of gaming has yet to have an infrastructure to support it since there has yet to be any game that has proven it possible. Full 70+ hour games via an internet connection could not only massively raise the cable bill but could prove to be difficult for those without the needed internet quality in order to play.
Nevertheless, Sony’s business move was a smart one as for making GaiKai an ally, now would rid the chance of it being a threat. Sony’s competition, however, will be also looking into cloud gaming as an addition to their new consoles. GaiKai’s competitor, OnLive, also offers their own service for playing cloud-based games on PC, mobile devices, and a streaming box. The investment in cloud gaming is a just and right one for Sony ,however, given the disadvantage of jumping completely into cloud gaming could hurt the company more than they bargained for. If Sony could manage to create a hybrid of both cloud and hardware, it could lessen the need of additional hardware and ease gamers from completely relying on cloud services to play.
A hybrid of both cloud and hardware for the next gen could also prove to be beneficial as more markets could afford a next gen console that would require less hardware and thus be less expensive. It would also be beneficial if the next gen did offer backwards compatible access to games via the cloud services by using the same partial system storage as the PS3.
GaiKai acquisition is a great investment for Sony’s future that could make it a worthy adversary.
Narz is long standing Sega Fan, gaming equality advocate, founder of Girl Gamer Vogue, and writer for Gametyrant.