Sony PlayStation Now: A Netflix for games?

Sony will soon roll out a beta version of PlayStation Now, its streaming subscription service. 

Naughty Dog
A screenshot from the PS3 game Last of Us, which will be one of the titles available on Sony's forthcoming PlayStation Now network.

Sony has taken the wraps off the PlayStation Now network, a platform that will allow gamers to stream top PlayStation 3 titles in the same way we currently stream movies on Netflix

PlayStation Now will debut in beta form later this month. A price has not been announced. CNET reports that Now will be available on the PS4, PS3, Vita, and Sony Bravia television sets, with more devices set to follow in coming months. 

"[A]s with all bandwidth-intensive streaming content, a player’s experience with PS Now will depend on the overall quality of their broadband internet connection," Sid Shuman wrote on the PlayStation blog today. "The PS Now team is currently estimating that a 5 [megabits per second] connection will provide a good experience for most games, and they’ll be gathering user feedback during the closed beta before announcing more details." 

Done correctly – and offered for the right price – PlayStation Now could transform the way the video game industry works: For one thing, retailers such as the successful chain GameStop could be cut out of the loop completely. 

Over at Polygon, Michael McWhertor takes a spin on the new platform, and finds plenty of "compression artifacts" – distortion, essentially.

"But the technology is striking, to say the least; these are capable, playable versions of PS3 games without the need for a dedicated console," Mr. McWhertor continues. "Despite the small amount of latency, PlayStation Now already feels like a viable game-streaming option." 

In related news, this week China rolled back a longtime ban on the sales of foreign video game consoles. As CNN notes, the ban, which had been in effect for 14 years, forced fans to purchase Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft products on the black market. "We recognize that China is a promising market," Sony reps said in a statement to the BBC. "We will continuously study the possibility, but there is no concrete plan at this stage."

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