Backwards compatibility has been a topic of discussion during the release of the last 3 video game console generations. Prior to the release of the PS4 and Xbox One, I was asked repeatedly if the new consoles would be backwards compatible. The interest in backwards compatibility is in contrast with the console manufacturers’ belief that gamers do not spend time on their new consoles playing games from the previous generation. Many gamers questioned Sony and Microsoft’s decision to not make their new consoles backwards compatible, especially with Diablo III, GTA V, and The Last of Us all seeing re-releases on PS4 and Xbox One. Fortunately, for those interested in playing PS3 and other Sony games on the PS4, PlayStation Now has been created to fill that void.
PlayStation Now is a video game based streaming service, which gives users the opportunity to pay for access to old PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3 titles. The service is very much like Hulu Plus, WWE Network, or what Netflix has become. PlayStation Now uses Gaikai, a cloud-based technology located in Sony data centers, to allow subscribers access to software content. Arguably the most notable thing about PlayStation Now is that it can be accessed not just from Sony gaming devices such as PS4, PS3, and PlayStation Vita, but from a number of Sony devices, including Sony Smart-TVs, smartphones, and tablets.
It is important to note that PlayStation Now does not provide backwards compatibility as gamers expect; you cannot play your previously owned games through this system. But what the service does provide is access to a multitude of games from Sony’s library. It is my personal opinion that PlayStation Now is far MORE beneficial to consumers who do not consider themselves “hardcore” gamers. The casual gamer or a Smart TV owner who has a cursory level interest in gaming can subscribe to the service, or rent access to the game, and try it out. Grandma and Grandpa might not have a video game system for their progeny to enjoy, but using PlayStation Now the grandchildren can access some games when they visit during holidays. Coupling the PlayStation Now service with PlayStation TV, which is a Roku-like set-top box that allows users to stream music, TV, films, and PS4 games, gives users the ability to access over 1,000 software titles in any television in the home. Sony has even hinted at the possibility of adding PS4 titles to the service in the future.
Closed Beta for the PS4 is already in progress with the full release of the service expected in late July. Please continue to check back here at my A Winner Is You column for more information on PlayStation Now and PlayStation TV.