Sony’s PS4 and PS4 Pro have an enormous sales advantage over the Xbox One, and typically offers better performance, but Microsoft’s console has had one feature Sony hasn’t matched — the ability to stream games from the Xbox One to a local PC. Now, Sony may challenge that position with an update to PlayStation Now.
The company’s latest blog post is light on details but states that PlayStation Now, which to-date has only offered PS3 titles, will begin offering PlayStation 4 games in the near future. These games won’t be limited to the PS4 — they’ll also be available for streaming to compatible PCs.
Sony says PS4 games as well as existing PS3 games will be available via one subscription and promises to share more details as the service moves closer to launch. The service will include cloud saved games, allowing you to begin a game on one device and pick it up on either a different PS4 or a PC — meaning you could conceivably play a game on a living room PS4, retire to your PC if the TV was needed for something else, then pick it up again on the big-screen later, without interruption or problems.
The 2017 console push: Gaming where you are
The console market has been evolving in a number of ways these past five years, in its attempt to both respond to the changing way we play games and to introduce new trends of its own. I’d argue that the Wii U actually led this push, with the idea of a tablet that could play a game independent of its platform or a big-screen TV. While the Wii U ended its life as the lowest-selling console ever, the Switch actually doubles down on what the Wii U offered by giving customers a handheld tablet they could carry with them no matter what.
Neither Sony nor Microsoft has any plans for a pocket Xbox or PS4, but this emphasis on streaming capabilities tries to capture the concept in other ways. Microsoft is pushing its Windows operating system tie-in to bring the Xbox One and PC closer together, with common applications, games, and shopping (with varying success, we might add). Sony initially positioned PlayStation Now as a game service available on a number of products, but recently slashed its compatibility list and plans to refocus the product on the PS4 and PC. Nvidia, of course, has its own Shield hardware, which offers a similar streaming option via GeForce Now.
Services like this would be a great way for Sony and Microsoft to make previous, highly regarded exclusives available to PC gamers. Titles like The Last of Us, the Uncharted series, and Bloodborne are all highly regarded games that never made the leap. Other games, like Red Dead Redemption, have only been available on consoles.
I’ve always been a PC gamer, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some console games I’ve wanted to play. If PlayStation Now adds the right games to its streaming options, it might find itself with a burgeoning PC audience, at least for a little while. Either way, the advent of cloud streaming (if done with sufficiently robust networking connections) could make a larger set of games available to more people with less hassle. Here’s hoping the new service will hit the right spots between what it offers and what it costs.