“The Last Of Us” On Your Vita – Why Gaikai Changes Everything

Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai is the first real step into showing the public what next-generation is going to be all about; streaming is the future, like it or not, and Sony are now well positioned to be part of gaming in the next five to ten years. Your internet might already be groaning at the thought of it, but cloud gaming will be the next big thing for you, even if it’s not already.

We’ve speculated in the past about how such a deal would mean all kinds of things to the future of the industry, but as of this morning all those pipe dreams and whimsical dreams have suddenly become much closer to reality. As of last Friday, Sony now have a hugely powerful tool at their disposal that the competition don’t – yet – and whilst many assume Microsoft will be aiming at OnLive, the first move went to PlayStation.

– ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW –

PlayStation, not Sony. The announcement was very much a SCE thing, and gaming – as outlined by Andrew House – is absolutely at the forefront of what the deal is all about. It’s what Gaikai is good at, and it’s what Sony are good at. The catalyst is there, the software is there, the hardware is there. All we need is a spark. A direction.

You’ll be able to play your PlayStation 3 games during your lunch time at work

The truth is that there are now a huge number of options open to Sony, and some are more exciting than others. Gaikai have already shown that their portals can work across a number of platforms, but over the weekend they got it running in Chrome, without Java, using NaCL. This means that – in theory – it can run in a browser.

The implications for that are huge – you can play games without fuss or download just in a web browser – although transporting that to Mobile Chrome may take a little longer.

We’d assume that Sony will now have a say in which platforms Gaikai ends up on (you’ll remember a recent deal with Samsung for their TVs, for example) and will obviously be pushing them towards PS3, PS Vita and beyond, but with practical hurdles out of the way, let’s just throw this out there: you’ll be able to play your PlayStation 3 games during your lunch time at work – in a browser, without having your PS3 with you.

Or even switched on.

Extrapolating, what’s to say that there won’t be a Gaikai client for Vita. Will we be playing The Last Of Us on the move, without actually needing to download gigabytes of Naughty Dog’s code, audio and textures? I’m a mobile gamer first and foremost, my time in front of the TV set somewhat limited, so if this is purely just a reinvention of Remote Play I’ll be a happy camper, and there’s technically no reason why this won’t be a reality that I can think of.

Sticking with PlayStation 3 – how about time-limited demos? How about looking at a game on the PSN Store that’s ten gigabytes to download and £40 – but rather than relying on reviews and a hefty chunk of your monthly allowance out of the window you simply just click ‘try now’ and Gaikai will let you play the game, immediately, and for an hour. For free. To me that’s invaluable, and hopefully high up the list of what Sony are thinking of.

Fire up Shenmue on the Dreamcast, on Vita, whilst relaxing on the sofa

The Vita, too, could get instant playable demos of its own games.

And then there’s software emulation – having a rack of top spec PCs kicking out the entire PlayStation library of PS1 and PS2 games direct to your Vita and PS3, or taking this further: acting as a virtual console for other manufacturers’ games. Daydreaming, perhaps, but I’d love to come home from work and fire up Shenmue on the Dreamcast, via my Vita, whilst relaxing on the sofa. Technically, this is now absolutely possible.

The biggest idea is one we’ve discussed before, though: PlayStation 4. Whether or not PS4 is a dumb terminal that simply streams games or whether it’s a fully featured disc-based console doesn’t really matter – streaming will be a major part of that experience and anyone doubting this shift in the industry is going to find themselves left behind quickly. It’ll instantly solve any backwards compatibility issues, for example, and might even push forwards compatibility.

Forwards? Yep, how about being able to see what PS4 can do from the PS3? Time limited demos, real time snapshots of Uncharted 4 or Gran Turismo 6, as obvious examples. Assuming there’s not a big difference in the controller setup between PS3 and PS4 (it’s likely to almost identical) the end user won’t know any difference aside from the obvious limitations in terms of screen fidelity that streaming often presents.

Regardless of what happens right now, the future of gaming has changed forever, and Sony will know this. Let’s not forget that Sony aren’t exactly doing well for cash at the moment – if this Gaikai deal means that PlayStation 4 can stay as top of the line (and – crucially – updateable) PC devkits housed somewhere underground and not as hugely expensive to manufacture home consoles, they’re almost certainly onto a winner.

Sony no longer need a PS4. We’ll be able to play next-gen games in a browser, on a Vita, on a tablet. It’s a brave move, although not unexpected – the question is what, or who, is next?

– PAGE CONTINUES BELOW –

53 Comments

  1. Screw a PS4, just give me a reliable internet connection and I’d happily stick with my PS3/Vita combo forever!

  2. Unless i get an offline copy of a game with a purchase, no thanks. SCEE and Sony in general are too incompetent to reliably host such a service, and I don’t like the idea of my purchases disappearing in case Sony ever goes into administration.

  3. “Sony no longer needs a PS4”. Disagree. Yes, cloud straming services as you say could be the next big thing to happen and it probably will, but so far, there’s only a handful of countries globally that someone could use services such as Gaikai or onlive, as both require a properly developed and advanced Broadband services. Such infrastructure is still nothing more then a pipe dream in a lot of countries and that’s before the question is asked over how many people prefer to play offline. Will cloud gaming services become part of the norm? Very possibly. Are we at that stage where a console can solely rely on that service without the need for a next-generation console? Globally, Not by a long shot.

    • Just to clarify on what I mean by the broadband service, I’m talking about every house being able to use a broadband service that isn’t restricted by low Monthly limits or slow connection speeds. I, for example, who live in a rural area, have to use a mobile broadband connection with a speed of around 3.6 Mbp/s, but a monthly limit of 15 GB, so I can’t really use such a service as of yet, I’m mainly reliant on Retail services for my games.

  4. I tried playing some games on gaikai.com, with a 50Mbit connection. (And an above avarage pc) But I couldn’t help but notice that there was a very slight delay in about everything. And also the image quality wasn’t as I hoped it would.

    I truly believe streaming games is the future, but I think we still have a long way to go.

    • I have a 30Mbit connection (http://speedtest.ookla.com/result/1715009491.png) that gives me at least 20-25 consistently and Gaikai tells me my connection is too slow. I mourn for the rest of the world with regular connections!

      • I have something like a 5Mbit connection, yes really, and I get good response on Gakai and Onlive, albeit with a little lag and quite low resolution.

    • Onlive gives me a perfect gaming experience at around 5mb connection speeds. Just as much controller lag as my beast of a gaming computer would get in titles like FEAR 2 and Borderlands GOTY(meaning none that I could notice), only minor, momentary decreases in visual fidelity. I think they have a time machine that sends your control inputs a few seconds back in time or something, that’s the only way to make it work as well as it does through Onlive. I actually considered just playing Onlive games until the end of time, then decided that I like having physical copies of games too much and internet connections aren’t PERFECT enough for me to rely on them for gaming. Onlive’s the best service to rent games through and their Playpack service is phenomenal(I really hope Sony does something like that through PS+ and Gaikai), otherwise I’m a console gamer. My paranoia will drive me mad when I’m forced to rely on digital accounts for my games, losing my Steam account with 268 games on it recently kinda messed with my head. :|

      “and whilst many assume Microsoft will be aiming at OnLive, the first move went to PlayStation”

      Well there’s definitely no way Microsoft would be able to purchase Onlive, those guys have a really awesome foothold in the game industry right now and they’re like Valve in the regards to purchasing another company: “if we ever decide WE wanna purchase THEM, we’ll give you a heads-up. ;>” Sure, an Onlive partnership is extremely likely but they wouldn’t own their cloud gaming technology, they’d have to pay fees and things like that to Onlive for the service- not to mention the games, Onlive would still make most, if not all, of the money from game sales. If Microsoft wants to offer cloud gaming service on their Xbox systems they’ll go one of two routes: they’ll think of the end-user experience and let Onlive work on their platforms or they’ll think of their piles of money and go with their own technology. I expect them to implement their own tech, personally.

  5. Wrong. PS4 will happen as they won;t limit there userbase unless they want to hand Microsoft victory before even starting next gen.

    Streaming is good for older games and bringing gaming to Smart TV’s/Tablets/Vita etc but only as an option.

    Ditch the localise play altogether and for a lot of people next gen will be a downgrade as input lag < local box. Besides retail is still over half sales in UK/US so unless Sony like I said want to ditch most of there consumer base then go ahead but I for one will NOT be interested.

    Sick of these articles saying it's inevitable – as inevitable of me taking a dump everyday or as inevitable of me taking a dump OR a piss :D

  6. Good luck with that in Ireland.
    Internet speeds are non-existent.

    As they are in much of the world.

    • I’ve only just read this, said it was “uploading” ;P

    • What speed are you getting? I’m in East Cork with 8MB download :D which is pretty piss compared to the rest of the developed world, but for Ireland: not bad :P

      • East Cork and actual 8MB?

        I’m (supposedly) getting 8mb in Midleton, Vodafone say it’s the highest they can get into the estate.

        The speed according to SpeedTest is 6MB…

        Yes, it’s terrific for Ireland, but not good enough to use Gaikai or Onlive.

        At least over wifi, anyway.

      • I’d kill for 6mbps

        My service is the usual ‘up to 8mbps’ which tops out at 2mbps… There is no date for my exchange to be updated anytime in the next 3 or 4 years… or even any time after.

        Mobile networks may provide the answer though, the Three mast in my area got a HSPA+ upgrade in April and that tech runs at up to 21mbps if I had a capable phone, only problem with mobile networks is addition latency & the lag it causes. DC-HSPA+ will be arriving soon apparently, that runs at up to 42mbps and then of course there’s 4G and the ridiculous amount of bandwidth that offeres if the UK ever gets sorted with Ofcom proving the most inept a regulator there ever could be.

      • Well yeah, it’s not normally up at 6MB either, today seems to be a good day (just did the test before I submitted that comment).

        You might complain about the Ofcom holdups- Ireland hasn’t even started contemplating installing 4G.

        Maybe if the whole of the UK gets it, mobile networks might just extend it south of the border?

        It’s our only hope…

  7. You forgot one important thing. We’re talking about Sony here. We aren’t even able to stream PS3 games from our PS3s to our Vitas via RemotePlay at home.
    How could Sony ever pull off something like this? They can’t even get developers/publishers to enable such features for games that you’d have to physically own and run on your PS3 while playing it on your Vita?
    According to some shady internet sites the RemotePlay feature for every game can be enabled by flicking a single digital switch (for each game i think).
    All they want is money and the’d rather sell you the same game twice (or even 5 times if they could) than letting you stream it to any device you own…
    While technology is already there, the mindset of the developers and publishers just isn’t.

    • With you on the practicality – Hell, they can’t even get some video previews of games to stream properly on the store! :S

    • They’ve just bought gaikai, who can stream things well with their tech. Even if they use the tech to improve remote play that will make it worthwhile

      • The issue is not the technology. I just think that devs and publishers will not let us stream their (PS3) games to our Vitas. They won’t even let us do it now with RemotePlay, which requires you to own the game and run it on your PS3 while you are playing on your Vita. It’s nothing more than a really small second screen for your PS3 with a built in controller and yet it’s disabled for 99% of all games. It’s ridiculous (read: sad).

      • There’s a real problem of this being diluted by Sony and it ending up a wet fart like half there other services like Remote Play, PS Suite & others.

        Whereas Gaikai has grew from a fanciful idea to almost $400m in a relatively short time and they’ve worked tirelessly to rid every aspect of latency they can, working with Intel & Nvidia to come up with new techniques.

        Imagine Gaikai being just another Sony department?

  8. Unfortunately, I like the feeling of owning my games, not simply buying a license to have access to them at the discretion of a content holder.

    Also, I can’t stand lag caused by Vsync so it’ll be a fair few years until they’ll persuade me that the input lag is ‘below that of human comprehension’ :/

    I think for the next generation it will just be an additional option for us as consumers, but things will continue as they are currently this gen as well. it’s a distinct possibility that streaming could evolve into something great over the next decade or so and that’s why Sony have got their wallet out, to make sure they’re in a good position going forward.

  9. “Sony no longer need a PS4”
    I’m sorry but that’s complete rubbish. Unless Sony is either going to invest an absolutely ludicrous amount on server hardware (which is VERY unlikely) there is no way they could stream anything above PS3 quality and even if that was the case the proportion of current PS3 owners with an internet connection good enough to consume such a service would not be large enough to justify the investment.

    It’s vastly more likely that this acquisition will be used for streaming last gen software, PS2 and PS1 games. Sure they could also stream old and current PC games but that’s just going to get confusing. They won’t be able to stream PS3 games without installing a humungous bank of PS3’s in datacentres around the world (not going to happen) because the architecture differences are so massive.

    Speculation is all well and good but writing stories with ludicrous claims in is just silly.

    • Agreed. It’s a pretty piss-poor comment considering how streaming games looks at present (as well as people enjoying having a console in front of them that doesn’t always depend on the internet being stable). Streaming is an option. One day it might replace the hardware purchases we’re accustomed to but to say Sony no longer need a PS4 is exceedingly shortsighted.

      • As I said a week back, Im sure there will be a bells and whistles PS4 with Blu ray etc.

        We did have a big discussion about this at TSA towers before I wrote that piece and from the bits and bobs we can put together we think there may be a PS branded Streaming box as well. PS4, big money for big boys, PS streamer for casual gamers, kids, etc

        On little theory I had – that didnt make it to the article – is the Xbox subscription service. Pay a few bucks for an Xbox then a monthly fee.

        That was odd, came out of the blue and was low key… until you consider “What if MS got wind of Sonys steaming box?” – they would have to have something to compete if Sony and Gaikai had got things sorted for E3 – if the had, MS could have gone “Hey, we trialed this Subscription Xbox in a few places and now everyone can have it with a load of free games on XBLl!”

  10. I like the idea of ‘playing a game for an hour, for free’ but wouldn’t want the PS4 to just do streaming. My internet connection normally runs at around 5 to 6 mbps but my PS3 is quite often signed out of the PSN while ‘Life with PlayStation’ sends and receives data and the connection to my PC is fine.

Comments are now closed for this post.