One of the most exciting elements of the pre-release hype for the PlayStation 4 was the promise of streaming the Sony back catalogue via Gaikai, who Sony recently purchased for their game streaming technology. Whilst at first it seemed like the service would be ready to roll out with the console, more recently Sony have been telling us (at least in the US), to expect it to arrive at some point next year. In a recent interview, the CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Andrew House reiterated this message to Eurogamer.
“We’re on track to have a commercial service up and running in the US first within 2014,” he says. That remains the plan and we’re very much on track to reach that.
But what’s important is to understand the full scope of what we’re trying to achieve and why we felt the Gaikai acquisition was important. Our goal is to be able to have a new form of game distribution streamed from the server side, initially to PS4 consoles then gradually moving that out to Vita.
But eventually, the endgame is to have this available on a multitude of network-connected devices, essentially delivering a console-quality gaming experience on devices which are not innately capable of doing that.
We think there’s a great opportunity to broaden the market, because you essentially remove the need to make the console purchase in order to have access to that experience. It may sound counter-intuitive, because, aren’t you replacing a business that is your bread and butter? But part of being an innovative company is being a pioneer in new forms of distribution of content, and we would like to be there first and take a leadership role.”
OK so that all sounds great for the North American market – a form of backwards compatibility and the live streaming of game demos very much feels like the future and it will be arriving next year. But what about other territories like Europe?
“I really can’t be specific on the European roll-out,” House says. “It’s a brand new form of delivery. We need to prove out the technology, which we feel is good at its core, but we place – as I think is quite right – a real emphasis on delivering a quality experience for consumers. And that will be dependent to a degree on what the strength of broadband connection is going to be, and what our server deployment and infrastructure looks like.
“We’re hard at work on all of those fronts, but I’m not at a point right now where I can be specific about when our European fans are going to be able to enjoy that.”