PlayStation Now, the long-awaited result of Sony's 2012 acquisition of Gaikai, has been making waves since its announcement at CES 2014. There are still some questions for Sony to answer regarding the service, but they did answer one important one when speaking to The Verge.
"You need to have the DualShock to be able to play," said John Koller, PlayStation's marketing VP.
The PlayStation Vita, obviously, does not require a separate DualShock controller, and obviously the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles do (DualShock 3 on PS3 and DualShock 4 on PS4). Koller's statement means, however, that in order to play PlayStation games on your iThings and Bravia TVs (when that feature is released), gamers will need to whip out their trusty DualShock 3s.
The Verge named this "a bit of an odd requirement," but it makes perfect sense to play a console game on the controller it is designed for--after all, touchscreens and games that are more complex than feeding candy to a frog or jumping over charging bulls don't tend to mix well. The experience on a touchscreen would be inferior to that of a controller of any kind, really, and that isn't what Sony wants for its customers.
"We want to continue the experiences as they were meant to be played on the controller," Koller said.
Technically, it should work. The DualShock 3 uses Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR to connect to the PS3. If Sony can connect with Apple's new gaming API for iOS7, that's a huge userbase right there. Android and Windows Mobile users (if PlayStation Now does come to Windows Mobile) will want to make sure their phones and tablets support this Bluetooth standard, but more recent models probably do. Switching from PS3 to a mobile device should be pretty simple.
PlayStation Now also fills some important roles in the industry. It directly plugs the console industry into the mobile industry, something that gamers and industry experts alike have been concerned about lately. It furthers Sony's vision of PlayStation as a platform rather than just a console, without necessarily eliminating the usefulness of a home console; after all, the experience will always be best on a powerful machine and a TV, and gamers will still need an Internet connection at least 5MB/s strong to take advantage of PlayStation Now.
PlayStation Now also opens doors for new accessories. A company could make some kind of mount to hold a phone or tablet while a gamer walks and plays (heaven help us). Beyond that there could be new DualShock 3 controllers designed for portability, and new stands to hold mobile devices and perhaps amplify game sound. There could be smaller gaming headsets for gaming communication on the go.
Still, though Koller painted a picture of starting a game on a home console and immediately continuing the game on a phone with the same controller, gamers don't usually have three hands, and walking around with a tablet somehow mounted in front of your face might look more than a little silly (and make you bump into things). Chances are that with this requirement, gamers won't be able to get through that sticky part of Uncharted 3 while walking between classes or standing in the lunch line at work unless they are on a Vita. In fact, Vita will likely provide the best mobile experience for PlayStation Now. It has a high-quality display, built-in controls, and its own library of games.
Imagine much of a boss you'll seem, however, sitting at Panera Bread with your tablet on a stand, playing The Last of Us on an HD screen with a controller like you're sitting in your favorite chair at home. Imagine how awesome it will be to leave your PS3 at home and play God of War while sunbathing at a resort in Orlando, then when you're done, switch your Vita over to Remote Play and get some inFamous: Second Son in. That's an idea we can get behind.
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