Sony's cloud revolution: Why Gaikai could change PlayStation forever

OPINION: $380m deal could have massive implications for PS4, writes Dan Dawkins

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Will it work?

The Gaikai deal makes sense in light of Sony's wider 'one Sony' strategy implemented by new boss Kaz Hirai. Finally, Sony can create a unified entertainment service, allowing you to stream its vast back catalogue of music, movies *and* games.


It all sounds like moon pie, but Gaikai already works. The latest Samsung TVs are Gaikai powered, allowing early adopters access to the first live beta trial of THQ's upcoming Darksiders II.

Technical issues abide. The UK's net infrastructure may not be sufficiently fast to allow lag-free, streamed, games; especially for 'twitch' games like Street Fighter IV or Call of Duty, where every frame matters. However, as fibre optic broadband grows, and Sony increases the volume of cloud-streaming servers - so you're not, say, streaming GTAV in Inverness from the London server - this becomes less of an issue.

We met Dave Perry at E3, who was quick to point out that the mobile 4G network may beat fibre optic in terms of providing homes with fast network connections. It might not be today, but within a few years, net latency might not be an issue.

Since cloud streamed games run on remote servers, Sony won't even need to build PS4, to allow you to trial it - the game runs remotely on a mega-PC, and you just stream it.

Rather than watch Sony play Killzone 4 live on PS4 at E3, we might be invited to play it and join in via our Bravia TVs and DualShock's. Well, that's the dream, but the importance of this move can't be understated.

No doubt, tech naysayers will be quick to point all the reasons why Gaikai won't be all these things, but at very least it signifies an important shift at the heart of Sony. For all its console successes, the firm's key strength is its brand, and its rich back catalogue of IP.

At one stage, it seemed unthinkable that Sega wouldn't produce consoles, but cloud streaming allows Sony to move away from shifting expensive closed boxes, to selling itself as a service, like the 'PlayStation channel' on your Bravia TV.

Agonisingly, Dave Perry, boss of cloud gaming service Gaikai, tried to alert us to this deal during our very first appointment of E3. "Rumours? They were rumours?" he laughed, when asked about pre-E3 speculation linking his firm to a deal with PS3.

He was telling us, but we weren't listening - and while much still needs to be resolved to see this deal's true significance, we suspect everyone will now be paying notice.

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