Huge news was announced this morning that SCE (or Sony Computer Entertainment to those of you not familiar with the Sony department responsible for all things Playstation and games) has purchased the online gaming streaming company GaiKai for $380 million.
GaiKai, in case you were not aware, is a service where it can stream high def console and PC games straight to different platforms (such as TV, PC) through your broadband connection without the need to purchase or download a physical game. The result of this could be massive for Playstation and Sony. With the imminent release of the PS4 expected to be announced next year, does this mean that there is a completely digital gaming future out there for Playstation? Probably not, but this does give Sony and SCE a huge amount of flexibility when it comes to the distribution of their games, and more importantly, that of the third party publishers out there.
For example, Andrew House, Sony Computer Entertainment's President and Group CEO had to say, "By combining Gaikai's resources including its technological strength and engineering talent with SCE's extensive game platform knowledge and experience, SCE will provide users with unparalleled cloud entertainment experiences."
What is very likely though is that the back catalogue of PS2 and PS1 games will at some point be available to stream direct to your PS3. This has been rumoured to happen for a while with most people expecting an announcement at this year’s E3, but nothing was said. Whether this will happen in the near future with PS3 is questionable, but I think that SCE would most likely release something along these lines on the PS3 more so as a testing bed for what lies later on with PS4.
Further to this is the question as to whether Sony could miss the initial PS4 cycle altogether. What I mean by this is simple; Sony could leverage the PS3's in all existing homes as a hub for the streaming of games and all other media via the GaiKai/Sony servers until the time that powerful PS4 hardware has reached a consumer friendly price. This would miss the stage in the console cycle where hardware is sold at a loss whilst being able to have the PS3 continually sold at very attractive prices (ie sub £100). This could sound very attractive to the investors with PS3 at one stage having raked up around $4Billion in losses for the company.
All this is still a bit far-fetched right now and I hardly think this will actually happen, but more to the point is the fact that it could, if Sony were willing to pour their resources behind it. This is again a testament to the flexibility that Sony will now have, along with the leverage they will gain over Microsoft and the Xbox.
In the end, only time will tell! And I'm sure we'll hear more of what's to come in the near future. I think David Perry, CEO of Gaikai, summed it up by saying, "SCE has built an incredible brand with PlayStation and has earned the respect of countless numbers of gamers worldwide. We're honored to be able to help SCE rapidly harness the power of the interactive cloud and to continue to grow their ecosystem, to empower developers with new capabilities, to dramatically improve the reach of exciting content and to bring breathtaking new experiences to users worldwide."