At CES 2014 Sony unveils its plans for PlayStation Now, a unified cloud-based gaming ecosystem that will bring classic PlayStation games across PS consoles as well as tablets and smartphones.

PS Now Andrew House CES 2014: Sony aims to build a unified gaming ecosystem with PlayStation Now

Sony exec Andrew House takes the stage to unveil PlayStation Now, a game streaming service that will unify an ecosystem of devices.

Sony’s announcement at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) is welcomed news to gamers across the globe, as many of us were no-doubt hoping for some mention of Gaikai’s highly anticipated game streaming technology–which would effectively bring PS3 games to the PS4.

The Japanese industry titan met this demand by unveiling PlayStation Now, a new game-streaming service that will offer “classic” PlayStation games across PS4, PS3, PS Vita as well as smartphones and tablets. Sony has also announced that the service is planned for a closed beta in the U.S. later this month, and may push into other regions during the summer.

The following snippet can be see over at the official PlayStation Blog:

Leveraging Gaikai’s advanced cloud-based technology, PlayStation Now will allow you to:

  • Play video games instantly across multiple devices, similar to the way you might stream TV, movies, and music.
  • Stream full games to all of your compatible PlayStation devices including PS4, PS3, and PlayStation Vita as well as non-PlayStation devices, beginning with 2014 BRAVIA TV models and expanding to numerous other Internet-connected devices.
  • Always play the most updated version of your game. With games hosted in the cloud, you can take your game with you – just log in with your Sony Entertainment Network account on a compatible device and your games and saved progress will be easily available.

CES 2014 attendees will be able to try out a demo version of PS Now on the show floor, which includes Naughty Dog’s highly coveted gem The Last of Us and Quantic Dream’s Beyond Two Souls. As of right now there’s no confirmation as to what games the service’s launch lineup will include.

PS Now CES 2014: Sony aims to build a unified gaming ecosystem with PlayStation Now

With PS Now, Sony will meet a very real demand by effectively bringing a sort of backwards compatibility to the PlayStation 4 as well as possibly phasing out the need for classic consoles. The framework of PS Now suggests that gamers will eventually be able to play PS One games (and beyond) on the digital service without needing to own an original PlayStation.

The potential for PlayStation Now is staggering, as are the possibilities: engaging in classic PlayStation 2 gems on-the-go via the PS Vita or even on a smartphone is something that every gamer could do with.

Sony’s push into a unified ecosystem mirrors Shuhei Yoshida’s previous comments about expanding the network to non-Sony devices, which may very well happen when the service is implemented later this year.

The unification of the service will stretch into the HDTV realm as well, as Sony-branded Bravia televisions will be able to make use of PS Now–which is nothing short of extraordinary and adds even more allure to the company’s lineup of smart TV’s.

So far there’s no official word on how Sony plans to market PS Now; whether or not it’ll be subscription-based or if gamers will have to purchase each game separately. Also the service will most likely link with the benefits of a PS Plus subscription, but nothing concrete has been revealed thus far.

PS Consoles CES 2014: Sony aims to build a unified gaming ecosystem with PlayStation Now

Many users are having specific questions about the service, though, and they’re not alone: just about every PlayStation fan has their attention keenly focused on the news, and everyone is wondering how it will work. Specifics are still light, but a few details have been spotted.

A recent comment from PS Blog’s Matthew Harper indicates that PlayStation Now may have a subscription of sorts–but all of this is subject to change as Sony collects feedback from the closed beta later this month:

“…With PS Now, you can rent by title for specific games, or you can choose a subscription that delivers additional value with a wide variety of genres. For example, you can try out a game by rental first, before deciding to actually purchase the full game and download it to your console.

“We believe this streaming game service will add tons of value to dedicated game consoles in addition to packaged and downloaded games, and in doing so, we will open up a new world of possibilities across PlayStation platforms.

“Of course, one of the big reasons we are offering a closed beta is to get feedback on all aspects of the service, including of course the experience with rentals and subscriptions, so we look forward to hearing more feedback from our community as we move through the beta.”

PS4 ecosystem CES 2014: Sony aims to build a unified gaming ecosystem with PlayStation Now

Oh and in case you’re wondering, the save files across PS Now will carry over to all devices that support the service–so you won’t have to manage any data, as it’ll all be stored in the ethereal cloudscape:

“Good news! Your save files with PS Now games move with you from any PSN now enabled and supported device. With games hosted in the cloud, you can truly take your game with you – just log in with you SEN account and your games and progress will be instantly available.”

Additionally there’s an interesting scenario involving double-purchasing: will gamers who already own a physical copy of, say, a PS One game have to purchase a digital copy of the same game via the service to play it on a PS4? If PS Now is based on purchases, then gamers may have to re-buy games they already own–but perhaps they’ll get a discount of sorts.

We can only speculate as to what games will be included in the library–whether it’ll be filled with “greatest hits” or if we’ll see some obscure games in the mix–but there will assuredly be many technical hurdles to conquer along the way.

In any case, it’ll definitely be interesting to see how Sony tackles PlayStation Now, and how it shapes over the next coming months. It’s fair to say this is the news that gamers have been looking forward to, especially PlayStation converts feeling the sting of the absence of backwards compatibility with the PS4.

Via PlayStation Blog