In addition to its latest sales figures for the PS4, Sony announced today at CES that a new initiative called PlayStation Now will stream the company’s back catalog of videogames to newer consoles, televisions and mobile devices.
The service will test-launch in the U.S. this summer, according to a press release. Initially, the only devices that will be able to access PSNow are the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and eight of the nine Bravia TVs Sony is launching this year.
At least for gamers, this is a big deal, bringing games into the same field as movies and TV shows one might stream from Netflix or Amazon. At launch, the PS4 (like its rival Xbox One) was not backwards-compatible, meaning it couldn’t play discs produced for its immediate predecessor, the PS3. Due to the differences between the consoles’ innards, this choice may have helped the Japanese electronics giant keep costs down.
However, back in July 2012, Sony acquired cloud-gaming company Gaikai, one of a slew of startups trying to free the sophistication of a gamer’s game choices from the constraints of his or her hardware. Now, at long last, that $380 million acquisition fits within Sony’s gaming lineup.
If Gaikai’s repurposed technology works as advertised, it will enable not just backwards- but also forwards- and sideways-compatible streaming. With PSNow, the press release said, “PS4 users in the living room can continue playing a game on a PS3 system in their bedroom.”
The cloud-gaming platform also stands to broaden PlayStation’s reach into more homes that wouldn’t buy a dedicated gaming box, but might buy a Sony-made TV or mobile device.
Launching in parallel with PlayStation Now this summer is a less well-defined suite of new TV and media-streaming features that will be accessible via the cloud on all the same devices.