Many of us had a legitimate idea of what to expect from Sony after their acquisition of Gaikai back in 2012. There obviously had to be a cloud-based streaming service in the cards, as Gaikai had been regarded as a top player in the high-end game streaming field for some time. But with the bad tastes that services like OnLive left on our tongues, it’s hard not to be skeptical of PlayStation Now’s ambitious goals for high-end game streaming.
During this year’s International CES show, I had the pleasure of getting some hands on time with the service, streaming God Of War: Ascension and The Last Of Us on a Bravia television (no consoles in the vicinity) and The Last Of Us on a PlayStation Vita. Right off the bat, the downscaling of visuals due to streaming stuck out like a sore thumb. It was exactly what I expected, not crystal clear like playing directly through an HDMI connection but still sufficient enough to appreciate the game’s graphics. I imagine this variable will differ depending on players’ connection speed, with folks who have internet that performs slower than others getting the less appealing visuals.
A critical factor in the success of PlayStation Now will be the latency of transmission between controller output and game input. Players playing PS3 games via Blu-ray or hard drive will be cross-compatible with players playing PS3 games using the PlayStation Now service, so playing online with input latency could prove to be a severe disadvantage for anyone streaming games, especially during competitive online games. Playing on the Bravia television set, things looked promising as I experienced an impressively small amount of latency. The PlayStation Vita, however, was a bit more on the sluggish side, which is probably why it’s slated to receive PlayStation Now a little further down the road than other devices. This compelled me to perform an on-camera latency test to give everyone a better idea of the how the service is coming along in this aspect.
I also spoke with Andrew Kelly of Sony Computer Entertainment America to flesh out a few details that went uncovered in PlayStation Now’s reveal.
PlayStation Now is ambitious, to say the least. It’s a bold initiative separate from Sony Computer Entertainment’s hardware endeavors and the brainchild of an undertaking that expands beyond anything that the PlayStation brand has attempted before. Things seem to be heading in the right direction, but whether or not the PlayStation Now service turns out to be another “too good to be true” situation or not remains to be seen.
If you have any questions about PlayStation Now or would like to chat about it, feel free to find me on twitter @Malik4Play.