Back in July 2012, Sony confirmed that it planned to purchase cloud gaming platform Gaikai for $380 million USD. Then in February 2013 Gaikai revealed that the platform would eventually stream PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 games to the just-launched PlayStation 4. There has also been talk over the last few months that Sony will even offer these games outside the box, selling PlayStation as a brand for all devices.
That said, sources recently told Eurogamer that a number of developers are taking part in an early 2014 beta, and that the full streaming service will roll out in Q3 2014 in North America. Andrew House, President and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, confirms. "We're on track to have a commercial service up and running in the US first within 2014," he says. "That remains the plan and we're very much on track to reach that."
Here's where his answer gets really juicy. "But what's important is to understand the full scope of what we're trying to achieve and why we felt the Gaikai acquisition was important," he adds. "Our goal is to be able to have a new form of game distribution streamed from the server side, initially to PS4 consoles then gradually moving that out to Vita."
But this service, eventually, won't be locked to the PS4 and Vita. "The endgame is to have this available on a multitude of network-connected devices, essentially delivering a console-quality gaming experience on devices which are not innately capable of doing that," he adds.
"We think there's a great opportunity to broaden the market, because you essentially remove the need to make the console purchase in order to have access to that experience," he concludes. "It may sound counter-intuitive, because, aren't you replacing a business that is your bread and butter? But part of being an innovative company is being a pioneer in new forms of distribution of content, and we would like to be there first and take a leadership role."
The long Gaikai answer arrives by way of a recent Q&A with Eurogamer. Previously, House talked about choosing a more PC-like hardware set, saying that Sony based the selection on the ease of development for the broadest range of developers in the industry, including small teams who may be emerging from mobile. Using an AMD APU also cuts down on the initial costs compared to what Sony endured with the PlayStation 3.
"We don't have a 'designed from the ground up' bespoke chipset that led to a lot of the initial costs around PS3," he says. "Yes, it's highly informed and customized from our own engineering talent, but in essence we were working in partnership with an outside vendor, AMD, this time. That also significantly reduces the scale and the scope of the risk of our investment."
To read the full interview, head here.