The countdown clock for Sony’s Future of PlayStation event on Wednesday at 6 PM ET has crossed the 24-hour threshold, and the list of potential PlayStation 4 revelations that could work their way into the fold continues to grow. In addition to hardware specs, tech demos, controller functionalities, pricing structure and a release date (we could go on — but read our full-length PS4 event preview here), it’s entirely possible that Sony addresses the topic of backwards compatibility.
Last week saw the rumor that Sony was leveraging Gaikai — the streaming company it acquired last July — to build a cloud-based service into its next console capable of streaming PS3 and PS4 games. That rumor gained even more traction today, thanks to a trio of domain names registered by Gaikai under the not-so-inconspicuous name of “PlayStation Cloud.”
Spotted by Supperannuation, the domains “playstation-cloud.com,” “playstation-cloud.org,” and “ps-cloud.net” — all of which list Gaikai Inc. as the “registrant contact” — paint a clear-as-day picture of a new Sony service slated to be announced on February 20. Should it be the same streaming service hinted at last week, a large portion of its reception will hinge on the PS4’s overall capacity for backwards compatibility.
In a perfect world the PlayStation 4 (codenamed Orbis) would play old PS3 discs seamlessly, the second they entered the drive, and PlayStation Cloud would spalsh a friendly “Free” logo next to each of its titles that users own physically. But we wouldn’t count on it. With Sony’s (not to be outdone by Microsoft’s) noted ambition to stamp out secondhand game sales, PlayStation Cloud seems like the perfect opportunity to land a full on fusillade. For one, it moves the distribution landscape one step closer to all-digital. Secondly, it seems far too counterintuitive, from Sony’s perspective, to devise a system of ownership verification that would allow users to bypass any standard streaming fee. Even if a PS4 owners did buy, say, God of War: Ascension or The Last of Us on PlayStation 3, how would PS Cloud be able to know that it’s not currently sitting on eBay or on a “Used” shelf at GameStop?
But as with so much of the speculation surrounding the (literal) future of PlayStation, we’ll have to wait until February 20th — or even later, at an event such as E3 — to find out more. PlayStation Cloud could make backwards compatibility synonymous with “buy it again.” It could also, in the same instance, provide amazingly useful accessibility to any game, anywhere, at any time — something current generation consoles haven’t quite delivered.
Ranters, what do you think Sony has in mind for PlayStation Cloud? How should a cloud-based console gaming service be configured, with respect to the physical media that its users already own?
Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.