The PlayStation 4 will likely introduce cloud gaming to the mainstream. Cloud gaming is the streaming of high definition video games in real-time to an internet accessible device, including PCs, consoles, and smartphones.
PlayStation 4 prototype controllers already show that the PS4 will feature a touchpad. In order to compete with Microsoft’s Kinect Sony is also expected to incorporate Move-like features into the PlayStation 4 controllers. In July 2012, Sony bought out the largest cloud gaming service provider Gaikai for $380 million. This announcement had many tech experts in the gaming industry wondering if the PlayStation 4 would feature cloud gaming.
The Wall Street Journal reports that an inside source within Sony says that cloud gaming will definitely be part of the PlayStation 4 plan to be announced on February 20:
“The new technology, to be unveiled Wednesday along with the new console, will allow users to play games delivered over the Internet, these people said. The streaming service, they added, is designed to use current PlayStation 3 titles on the new console; the new device is also expected to play new games stored on optical discs.”
CBS points out that this idea has been expected since Sony bought Gaikai. They also think that mobile devices will somehow be incorporated into PlayStation 4 cloud gaming:
“Imagine playing a core PlayStation…[game] on your console, then picking the game up exactly where you left off on your cell phone or tablet.”
From a technical perspective, limiting the cloud gaming functionality to PlayStation 3 titles makes sense. The Cell processor in the PS3 was developed by Sony, IBM, and Toshiba. But apparently the PlayStation 4 will be moving over to an AMD processor, making backwards compatibility via the emulation of PS3 games on the PlayStation 4 very difficult.
In addition, many PS3 games are not natively rendered at high definition 1080p resolutions. Instead, they are often rendered at a lower resolution, sometimes lower than 720p, and then upscaled by the hardware to 1080p. The bandwidth difference for cloud gaming between even 720p and 1080p is over two times the amount of data per second. PlayStation 4 games, on the other hand, will likely all be natively rendered at 1080p or even Ultra HD resolutions.
If Sony charges money for the Playstation 4 cloud gaming capabilities would you be willing to pay for a subscription?