PlayStation Now Is Way Ahead Of Its Time- And Microsoft And Nintendo Both Need To Learn From It

Sony are ahead of the game here, and Microsoft and Nintendo must act fast to catch up.

Posted By | On 13th, Aug. 2016 Under Article, Editorials | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


You know, I’m really not a fan of PlayStation Now. A lot of that probably has to do with my distaste for how the service has been offered as a replacement for proper backwards compatibility, but I am also not a fan of game streaming- too many issues exist for that idea to work right now, and the infrastructure isn’t in place yet. That said, even I would be hard pressed to deny that eventually, one day, in the far future, all gaming will probably be cloud based- so I can hardly blame Sony for wanting to get a headstart while they can and prepare for that nebulous future.

There is further potential in the idea, too- PlayStation Now is theoretically hardware agnostic (and has been offered on Android phones and Samsung TVs already, with a recent rumor also pegging it for a PC release soon), which means that by offering people the ability to play these older PlayStation games without having to invest in dedicated proprietary hardware, Sony are theoretically winning more converts for their current generation systems. This is a strategy not unlike Nintendo’s with their smartphone games, actually (and we already know that it has been very successful for them).

Given all this, PlayStation Now, warts and all, must be admitted to be a rather prescient strategy- and it is one that I whole heartedly think Nintendo and Microsoft should look at embracing and emulating. For both companies, it will be a way to potentially attract more people into their ecosystem in the here and now, while also hedging their bets for the hypothetical cloud only future that is sure to come eventually.

PlayStation Now_PS Now

"PlayStation Now, warts and all, must be admitted to be a rather prescient strategy- and it is one that I whole heartedly think Nintendo and Microsoft should look at embracing and emulating."

Take Nintendo, for example- is there any reason that they could not potentially offer a Virtual Console subscription service on PC, say, for $10 a month, and offer full access to NES and SNES games (at least the ones that would be supported on the service), playable via streaming? More than enough demand exists for old Nintendo games- it’s one of the reasons why Virtual Console has been so successful on Nintendo’s consoles and handhelds. By offering their old games on neutral platforms like PC (and smartphones) this way, Nintendo could kill three birds with one stone- they could earn extra revenue from their old games, which no longer by themselves add much, if any, value to their current hardware; they would potentially expand the number of people exposed to Nintendo’s games, and thus the number of people who could eventually purchase Nintendo hardware to play more of them; finally, they would be investing in cloud infrastructure, which will have the twofold benefit of improving their network and services backend in the here and now, while also giving them something to build off of should gaming ever truly move fully into the cloud.

From a usability perspective, too, a Nintendo Virtual Console offering NES and SNES games would be far better than PlayStation Now- unlike PS3 games, which can be dozens of GBs in file size, and therefore require a lot of bandwidth (and, by extension, come with the threat of a lot of latency), NES and SNES games are tiny- we’re talking maybe a few MBs at best. Not only would something like this not require a lot of bandwidth, it would also be accessible to a lot more people with poor internet connections that PlayStation Now cannot reach.

In other words, there is simply no reason that Nintendo have not yet begun to look at opportunities in cloud gaming- indeed, a Virtual Console subscription service would be another line of steady revenue for them, and for the company which is looking at diversifying its revenue streams as much as possible, that can only be a good thing.

virtual console

"A Virtual Console subscription service would be another line of steady revenue for Nintendo, and for the company which is looking at diversifying its revenue streams as much as possible, that can only be a good thing."

A case for Nintendo offering a PlayStation Now service is relatively easier to make- but what about Microsoft? Why would Microsoft want to offer a cloud gaming service? How would they make it usable, given that Microsoft’s oldest console, the original Xbox, has pretty big file sizes for its games?

For starters, one must remember a few things- Microsoft, as a whole, is a company that is moving towards a hardware agnostic future. Not even that- they are categorically making the move away to a platform agnostic future, and under Satya Nadella, their current CEO, their mantra is very literally ‘cloud first.’ Let us also not ignore that, long before Phil Spencer took on the Xbox One, and tried to turn the console around, Microsoft had intended for the console to be the standard bearer of cloud gaming.

Given all of this, the question isn’t why Microsoft would not have a cloud gaming service- the question is, how do they not have one in place already? It makes complete, total, and absolute sense for Microsoft from all perspectives. It furthers their strategy of moving towards the cloud, it furthers their shift towards a hardware agnostic future, it potentially shows off the utility of their Azure cloud offerings, and it even lies in line with their vision for the future of gaming.

But Microsoft are probably spooked by the backlash against the original Xbox One concept, which was predicated on the cloud- so that’s fine, we get that. And they probably feel that their current take on backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360, which has won them so much goodwill and accolades, is superior to a cloud service. We get that- that’s all well and good. But what about the original Xbox? What about Microsoft’s old PC games? Why are Midtown Madness, Knights of the Old Republic, Conker Live and Reloaded, Halo: Combat Evolved, and Zoo Tycoon not offered via a cloud streaming service, for smartphones, PCs, and even Xbox?

Ubisoft Xbox 360 to Xbox One

"There is no reason for Microsoft to not jump in with a cloud offering of their own."

This would allow Microsoft to monetize these old games that are all now out of print, and are earning them little to no money. It would act as a flagship offering for their cloud services. And it would also act as a very powerful demonstration of their cloud and network capabilities. And of course, they would attract more people into the larger Microsoft ecosystem, too. There is no reason for Microsoft to not jump in with a cloud offering of their own.

It comes down to the cloud being important- whether or not you like it, whether it is now or thirty years in the future, cloud gaming is ultimately the future. And unless Microsoft and Nintendo act to capitalize on the opportunity soon, they will be left behind in this new frontier, with only Sony having had the foresight to invest in this field ahead of time.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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  • elthesensai

    The reason that PlayStation now will not work is because of their subscription model. People would stream their games if they could purchase games and than stream it. I’ve bought a lot of Classic PS1 and 2 games and Sony should allow me to play those game through the Now network. I don’t want to rent games and differently not subscribe to them.

  • JimboDeadite

    Sony is a joke, I’m so pissed I even wasted money on the lamestation 4. PS now sucks, sony sucks, And I’ll Support Nintendo and Xbox anyday over sony’s overrated trash!

  • Mark Matheson

    “It comes down to the cloud being important- whether or not you like it, whether it is now or thirty years in the future, cloud gaming is ultimately the future. And unless Microsoft and Nintendo act to capitalize on the opportunity soon, they will be left behind in this new frontier, with only Sony having had the foresight to invest in this field ahead of time.”
    Really? Have you played against the drivatars in Forza? Have you seen the destruction possible in Crackdown 3? Have you noticed all multiplayer games are hosted server side? These are all traits of cloud computing being successfully utilised. If MS feel that they aren’t getting enough back from BC then I am sure they will consider game streaming. Was this article sponsored by Sony?

  • TPoppaPuff

    Considering the PS4 doesn’t have backwards compatibility, Sony is way behind its time. But hey, Pramath, you keep paying a small fortune to rent games you bought nearly two decades ago.

    • Andrew Fox

      Good luck doing Cell architecture backwards compatibility on an x86 platform… There are many technical reasons that the PS4 cannot do PS3 backwards compatibility.

    • TPoppaPuff

      And good luck trying to find more excuses for why it lacks backwards compatibility. Sure, that aspect is a legitimately harsh barrier that arguably takes more to solve than what it’s worth, but it’s still on them to provide backwards compatibility. Whether that backwards compatibility is free use of PSNow when the old disc is put in or whether that meant putting a Cell in the machine. The fact that they didn’t, regardless of reason, puts them behind the times.

  • Gamehead

    Streaming is nothing new

  • frank pik

    I would hope that MS would jump in on this because we can be confident of something done right.
    Sorry but Sony’s online infrastructure feels a full generation behind Microsoft. The layout for the PS store looks nicer but at the same time sloppier. Games lag more. Downloads are about 4x slower – if not more. PS TV would be A+ great if the interface wasn’t a diaper full of split pea-green babyshit, and PS Now was barely touched because it was practically unplayable even with a decent connection

  • Mr Xrat

    I don’t much care about Now but watching Xgimp scum cry their little eyes out always raises a smile.

    • Nintengods

      And you can see through the tears as $ony $hills try to figure out how to spin that $ony lost every single exclusive they have to PC

      The NX annhilating the $599 neo that can only do 1080P 30FPS is now just the cherry on top.

  • Psionicinversion

    theres 2 things holding up game streaming.. 1 is latency and 2 is people internet. Whether the internet isnt fast enough or has high latency or simply have tight bandwidth caps like america its not really ready until internet infrastructure has caught up. When all games come in 4K it means higher bandwidth is used to run it potentially setting the problem back to square 1.

    I think MS is preparing for some sort of service like this as im sure ive read there buying servers loaded out with GPU’s which is exactly the type of servers you need to run a service like this. But other problems need to be resolved first.

    Personally it will never be as good as local hardware (although nvidias grid streaming service is much better than PS Now by all accounts) but most people wont really care. Also adding to the fact gaikai and onlives hardware will be really out of date by now they need to spend a lot of money to upgrade it

  • sgt_hammertime

    and the flip side: if playstation now is way ahead of it’s time, then gaikai and onlive were way way way ahead of their time, right?
    what about gamefly game streaming, are they way ahead of it’s time too?
    this article made it seem as if playstation now game streaming service was a novel idea from sony which it is not.

  • Doggystyle

    All that time you spent on his site kissing a**, and agreeing with every single thing that came outta his mouth, just for him to turn around and spit in your face like that. Wow. Today was not a good day, bruh. Go out and waste some money on something really expensive. It might make you feel better. Or not.

    LOL, you might wanna take a break from that site for a while bruh, till the laughter dies down. I’m laughing right now, I’m hoping you can’t hear me.

    • efnet

      What?
      Hahaha Negri please!!! I’m like the only one there that has the balls to disagree with him and carry on a conversation on why I do….he’s a fanboy with a biased opinion, his site does 95% ps4 news and hardly any xbox news so that whole me agreeing with everything he says is another one of your mod life crisis lies my dear brother lol
      You need to let that bitterness go my dude

    • Doggystyle

      LOL, dude, when are you gonna get it thru your head….

      THERE AIN’T NO DAMN XBOX NEWS TO TELL ANYBODY.

      And I dare yo young narrow a** to disagree with him again. LOL

  • Doggystyle

    Sweet dreams bruh. The pain will go away as soon as you pull out that visa card again.

    • efnet

      What pain?

    • Doggystyle

      Dude. He embarrassed you. Its over. Find a new site for Xbox news. LOL, you can’t ever go back there again. They saw your face.

  • peconic1960

    @Pramath Seriously, have you not looked at LiquidSky?

  • Andrew Fox

    The article writer has no idea what they are talking about. Streaming is done over a video link and the game is on the company servers, the game filesize is irrelevant. 5 seconds of gameplay on a SNES/NES title over streaming would be many times larger than the game filesize. Some PS3 games are over 50GB big, do you think your console is ‘streaming’ 50GB each time you launch it on PSNow? No way, they just stream a video feed of the game being rendered on their cloud render farm. The biggest issue with game streaming is latency and how long it takes from when you press the button to send that press back to their end, have the input replayed to the game and then have new frames of video sent back to you. Video frames are very large and due to packets not being able to exceed the speed of light unless you are right near a data center with a cabled connection there is going to be an annoying delay to your inputs, think when you are trying to position a camera in a game just right and you make careful adjustments the delays on those is enough to drive you mad. Streaming games may be the future at some point but it’s not very viable over any sort of wireless link, especially on smart phones using a cellular data network that has to be beamed to a satellite and back.


 

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