Last Updated on by
It’s safe to say game streaming is a contentious topic in the gaming community. I’ve been gaming most of my life and have always thought of streaming as a unique idea but nothing that’s deemed worthwhile or even that great, and that goes all the way back to OnLive and Gaikai, two big names with the game streaming market when that was in its infancy. Both certainly made a splash at launch but quickly dried up and were either acquired by a big corporation, like with Sony buying Gaikai, or otherwise went belly up. The big problem is those platforms released back in the late 2000s, back when internet speeds weren’t what they are now. When cellular towers were just starting to build 4G and the fastest was 3G LTE. Those game streaming services were good on paper but lacked the technology to really support it. Fast forward to now and we have more companies trying to be the first foot in the door to be the “Netflix of gaming”.
Sony was technically the first to really make a push for streaming. As mentioned before, after Gaikai faced financial issues and were about to go belly up, Sony stepped in to acquire the company and their assets. A lot of the company was dissolved into the Sony umbrella within the first year of being acquired but they got what they wanted: servers that could host streaming versions of legacy Playstation software due to the forthcoming Playstation 4’s lack of backwards compatibility with the three previous Playstation home consoles. The PS4 was a complete refresh of the brand after the tumultuous early years of the Playstation 3. While Sony did turn things around at the end of the PS3’s life, it was clear that the PS4 was all about focusing on what the developers wanted and that meant getting rid of foreign architecture that wouldn’t be easy to program for and a more open and friendlier development platform. However, that meant that previous Playstation generations would not be supported in any way natively, not even PS1 games, which had been emulated in software during the PS3 generation. Sony’s solution to this problem was Playstation Now, a game streaming service, which on paper sounded promising, but in execution, was awful. At launch, it was set up like a rental service where they overcharged their fanbase for the rights to stream games over the internet. The pricing tiers were only the beginning of this platform’s woes. Playstation Now launched a few months after the PS4 came out and once again the technology was just not there. Internet speeds in 2014 were certainly faster than when OnLive and Gaikai had tried to enter the market, but it just wasn’t serviceable. Input lag was noticeable, game selection was lacking at launch, especially to dedicated Playstation fans who’d probably been playing on Sony’s platform for nearly twenty years, and the original pricing tiers for what were essentially game rentals was a joke. It simply made no sense to invest into Playstation Now when it would have been easier, and frankly, cheaper to just hook up a used PS3 and play the games natively through either digital downloads or through the original discs. Sony’s approach to PS Now was pure greed and as a fan of Playstation, it felt like they didn’t want to acknowledge their legacy and would rather focus on ripping off their fanbase rather than reassuring them that they still want to honor the Playstation’s legacy. It isn’t surprising to me that in 2021, Sony has all but abandoned PS Now as a pillar of the company. Yes, it still exists today and has gone through massive overhauls, but Sony has failed at upkeeping the servers and updating the tech that powers them, and they aren’t making any marketing pushes for it. You will never see a PS Now ad when that money and resources could go into advertisements for the Playstation 5. Essentially, whatever lead Sony had in 2013 is completely wasted by now.