With Sony’s cloud streaming service due to launch this summer in North America, what does the future hold for the next-generation of consoles? Will there even be any need for a PlayStation 5 as Sony puts an increasing focus on cloud gaming by ensuring that its portfolio of games are available to all those who seek them, regardless of what device they own?
It’s a question that even Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei “Shu” Yoshida doesn’t know the answer to. Speaking in an interview with re-code a few weeks ago, Yoshida-san chatted about the company’s “shift to [be] service-oriented,” and stated that the future is in the hands of the game creators.
“If they still feel that we need more machine power — ‘We want to realize this and that and that, but we cannot do [it] with PS4′ — if that’s the case, there’s a good reason to have PS5, so that developers can create their vision. So, we’ll see.”
With PlayStation Now due to launch in the summer, consumers will be able to get their gaming fix through the cloud not only on PlayStation consoles but on televisions, tablets, and smartphones. The service will stream full games and users will be able to save all their game files in the cloud. It all sounds fantastic, if it actually works as well as Sony hopes it will.
Sony can certainly learn lessons from the demise of OnLive, which was touted as the “future of gaming.” The cloud gaming service was awful. It wasn’t backed by enough publishers, which resulted in a deluge of old games on the store that nobody wanted to play, while low resolution issues and latency problems made many of those games uncomfortable to play.
The main issue is that broadband connections just aren't reliable enough. A report in The Telegraph this week brandishes the headline: “Britain's worst broadband areas take 15 hours to download a film.” Indeed, connection speeds across the country, and indeed Europe, aren't up to scratch. For PlayStation Now to provide a smooth gaming experience, Europe has to have stable broadband download speeds; with so many different providers dishing out varying connection speeds, it’s going to be nightmare to roll out PlayStation Now worldwide. Consequently, there’s a real concern about its performance, which simply won't be of a consistent high quality across the globe. Who wants to play a laggy game?