Monday, February 18, 2013

PS4 Will Allow Users to Compete Against Others Using Different Hardware

Wednesday could announce a milestone in gaming as we know it. According to the Wall Street Journal Sony's next console would allow players to actually play with others using different hardware. More than a decade ago Ken Kutaragi, the Sony Executive who is credited as the "Father of the PlayStation," predicted that one day video games wouldn't require a console, because the hardware would eventually "melt" into a network that linked players together. All they would need, Ken Kutaragi said, is a display and a controller.

Sony is putting all the finishing touches on their conference on Wednesday the lights, the music, the scripts, and being ever so silent about the secrets they are holding. If the WSJ is correct this will take one major step closer to Kutaragi's vision. The Japanese electronics conglomerate's next PlayStation will allow users to play games streamed over the Internet as well as on discs, according to people familiar with Sony's plans.

This new feature is one of many expected to be revealed by Sony at the event in New York on Wednesday. The addition of streaming exemplifies how the video game industry is searching for new ideas to cope with dramatic shifts in technology and consumer behavior. This idea has been attempted before with Shadowrun, but Microsoft pulled the plug before failure was achieved. Blizzard has teased that they had Diablo 3 running on consoles behind closed doors but no videos were ever available to the public.

For years companies have been developing ways to run software on server systems and stream it over the Internet to customers, an approach sometimes called "cloud gaming." Sony purchased the online giant Gaikai last July for $380 Million and plans to utilize the service for cloud gaming. The deal was spearheaded by Sony Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai, a former protégé to Mr. Kutaragi, who no longer plays a day-to-day role at the company.

Since the acquisition, Sony has invested heavily to prepare Gaikai's technology to enhance its new console. Sony has been preparing the technology to be used to allow users to play current PlayStation 3 games on the device as well as Playstation 2 and Playstation games, making a broader array of titles available for new and older fans of Sony. The new device is also expected to play new games stored on optical discs.

Streaming could have implications beyond well-dedicated game machines, with the potential of Sony allowing smartphones and televisions to tap into graphics-heavy games they can't play now. In July during the
Gaikai acquisition Andrew House, the head of Sony's video game unit, said that "recognition on Sony's part that the cloud and cloud-streaming technologies are going to have a profound and possibly a very positive impact."

The new PlayStation also will allow players to share achievements on social networks like Facebook or Twitter, while also enabling aspects such as sharing footage of game play online through YouTube. Sony's new console may also allow users to compete against others using different hardware, such as smartphones and other portable devices. These games could range from uniquely created apps/games to more extensive titles.

All in all Wednesday's event in New York is shaping up to be a major step in gaming and the excitement just keeps increasing.



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