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Rumor: Sony to Unveil Game Streaming Capabilities on PlayStation 4

February 17, 2013

PlayStation Feb. 20 Event

Let the rumors continue! With the impending (likely) announcement of Sony's new PlayStation console but a few days away, a new report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that Sony will also be unveiling new streaming capabilities for the device this coming Wednesday.

Specifically, unknown sources have suggested that Sony's PlayStation 4 will be able to stream games via players' Internet connections. It's thought that the service will focus on Sony's library of PlayStation 3 titles, which could be a way for Sony to address issues of backwards compatibility without having to specifically configure the hardware of its upcoming console to support such a move.

Since the PlayStation 4 – as of the last batch of rumors – is likely to run an AMD-based chip instead of the PS3's Cell microprocessor, it's been presumed that backwards compatibility might be a bit of an issue (if not an impossibility) for those looking to play PS3 games on Sony's to-be-announced console. These issues have also been hinted at by game developers as of just a few days ago.

"An important thing to remember is that next-gen consoles will most likely not be backwards compatible," said Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen in a Q&A at this weeks' Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference.

While the technical details of Sony's rumored streaming service are unclear – as is the price, regarding whether game streaming would be free for PS4 owners or require some kind of ancillary fee (or perhaps a PlayStation Plus membership) – it's not as if Sony is breaking brand-new ground with this one. The much-talked-about gaming service OnLive launched its own home game-streaming service in mid-2010, only to face massive layoffs and a buyout just over two years later.

Making recent headlines in the game-streaming space has been Nvidia's Project Shield, the handheld gaming device debuted at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that combines a controller, a five-inch multitouch display, and the capability to stream games from one's Nvidia-powered PC to the Shield device at will.

Nvidia's Grid service has also been getting a bit of attention as of late. The cloud-computing platform would take care of the bulk of a game's processing and stream the resulting (and ideally, lag-free) video to a user's device – whatever that device might happen to be. While these devices would benefit if they're also running Nvidia hardware in some aspect, the thought is that Grid will allow gamers on smartphones, tablets, and low-powered PCs to tap into the same capabilities that their more hardcore gamer friends enjoy on their beefier setups.




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