So What’s Going on with Sony and Cloud-Based Gaming?

By now you’ve heard about how Sony is looking to team up with a leading cloud-based gaming provider, which likely means either Gaikai or OnLive.  What exactly this deal pertains to we don’t know just yet.  So what’s really going on here?

At this point in time everything we know is rumor and speculation, but let’s look at what these companies offer, and how Sony could apply these services to their console and portable gaming devices.

The two major players in the cloud space are Gaikai and OnLive, and both offer slightly different services.  Sony actually has a history with OnLive, as the service was available on the Xperia smartphone.  OnLive also entered the console market themselves with a micro-console that brought PC games to the big screen TV.  They even have the service available on Android and iOS devices.  Basically OnLive is everywhere already, but what does OnLive do exactly.  Here’s the company’s official mission statement:

“OnLive delivers high-end video games from the cloud to your PC, Mac®, TV and even mobile devices at blindingly fast speeds, so you can play the games you want, the second you want them. No discs. No downloads. No fancy hardware. Just you, the Internet and the games you love.”

OnLive offers several ways players can enjoy their games, via free demos, 3-day or 5-day rentals, full purchase, or PlayPack Bundle, which is a $9.99 a month service and allows players to play over 200 games from indie titles, classic console games, to huge blockbusters.

This is the OnLive game system, could the service make its way to the PS3/Vita?

Gaikai on the other hand is a little different.  They offer a digital streaming platform that works on computers, browsers, and even has connectivity with YouTube and Facebook.  Their mission statement is as follows:

“GAIKAI offers a fully managed cloud platform across a global network that is optimized to deliver high-end video games and applications within seconds to all leading web browsers, operating systems, and devices, even premium destinations and social networks like YouTube and Facebook.”

They also specialize in “try before you buy” gaming.  They have strong partnerships with Electronic Arts, Sega, Capcom, 2K Games, THQ, Warner Bros., and Ubisoft.  At one point were even trying to bring World of Warcraft to tablets.  Gaikai may be newer in the cloud-based gaming arena compared to OnLive, but they’ve already made some real headway.

So now comes the question everyone is surely asking, which company would be better suited to Sony’s needs?  Better yet, what are Sony’s needs?  To answer that, I think it’d be a good idea to come to terms with what Sony could possibly expect from services such as these.  Personally I don’t see PC games suddenly being streamed to your PS3 or Vita, regardless of which service Sony decides to go with.  It might be an option, but I think legalities would get in the way of that one for some reason.  No, I’m a believer that Sony is much more interested in using this technology for their own software.  Imagine being able to stream Uncharted 3 instead of actually having to buy or download it, that’d make for one wild rental service, don’t you agree?  Demos, rentals and full purchases could all be done via the cloud.  Since they already offer digital downloads of PS3 games and older classics, this seems like a natural extension.  If they could add PC games into the mix that would be a huge plus and increase the games PS3 can play by the thousands.

So which of these companies is better suited to meet that specific need?  If Sony is only looking to provide gamers with a customizable version of the cloud-based platform, I’d think Gaikai would be the clear winner given how customizable it already is.   OnLive is its own beast and would be the ideal option if the company is looking for a solution to bring PC games to the PS3 and Vita.

Today Gameblog revealed that…

“Gaikai has major announcements for E3, which have the potential to change the future of video games, the game consoles and the way in which we play.”

So what do you all think?  Could this be exactly what Sony is going for, or do you think full PC games will be streamed to your PS3 and Vita before the end of the year?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this including cloud-based gaming as a whole.

3 thoughts on “So What’s Going on with Sony and Cloud-Based Gaming?”

  1. Yeah I was thinking the same thing when I read about these rumors; the legalities of streaming PC games onto your PS3. It will surprise me if OnLive or Gaikai will be fully on board with all their PC games on the PS3 because it’s not that simple to get running. I think we’re going to get streamed PS3 and Vita titles instead.

    As for Sony jumping on board with this, power to them for being the first console to do so. But I’m not exactly super excited about cloud gaming just yet for obvious reasons. Your internet connection needs to be perfect and fast for it to work well. I don’t want the experience to chug as I play a game. On the other hand, ‘trying before buying’ and renting has a big appeal to cloud gaming. That might be the only big positive about it. I still prefer spending my money on bigger disk space rather than risk gaming on a cloud.

    1. I can see this being huge for renting games. I’ve talked about this in the past where I didn’t understand why Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo didn’t attempt to do something with the rental space and their digital downloads. This will likely be far safer than allowing users to download the full game and then have it auto-delete after a certain period of time. This way the user never actually has access directly to the game info itself.

      I’m 99% sure this is exactly where Sony plans to take this. As for purchasing full game on something like this, we’re not quite there yet in terms of worldwide infrastructure, but it will be eventually. I don’t see myself using a service like this at all, but like you said power to them for being the first to try something new in this space, at least in terms of the big three console manufacturers.

  2. I think it will be Gaikai, and it will be for demos only, it makes sense dont waiting an x amount of time for downloading demos, if its for that then kudos to them, i like it

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