Early in the year, cloud gaming service Gaikai made waves by predicting that either Microsoft or Sony will skip the next console generation. According to Gaikai, this revelation is set to be the big news of E3 2012. It was a tough idea to swallow then, and remains so now. But…

A rumor surfaced this week, claiming that at its E3 2012 Press Event, Sony will unveil a partnership with an existing cloud gaming service, likely either OnLive or Gaikai. Recent developments suggest that Gaikai will, indeed, be that partner. If that’s the case, could it be possible that the company’s prediction is coming true?

The rumor that Sony is bringing cloud gaming to PlayStation 3 originates with VG 24/7. No evidence is offered in support of the rumor, though it’s hardly an outlandish idea. Cloud gaming is slowly gaining ever wider acceptance, and OnLive VP of Engineering Joe Bentley hasn’t been shy about expressing his desire to bring streaming games to traditional consoles. According to Bently, “it would absolutely work, we’re ready to work with everybody.”

In the wake of the Sony rumor, French video game website Gameblog reports that it has received an invitation from Gaikai for a “major announcement” at E3 2012.

“Gaikai a des annonces majeures en réserve pour l’E3, qui ont le potentiel de changer l’avenir du jeu vidéo, des consoles de jeu et de la manière dont nous jouons.”

A NeoGAF user translates the invitation as follows:

“Gaikai has major announcements for E3, which has the potential to change the future of video game, the game consoles and the way in which we play.”

Hyperbolic? If the Sony/Gaikai partnership is for real, maybe not — particularly if it means that Sony is, in fact, skipping the next hardware generation.

Currently, Gaikai offers a library of game demos from a broad range of publishers, including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, THQ, SEGA and Warner Bros. Interactive. Demos of games such as Mass Effect 3 and Rayman: Origins are available to play right in your PC’s browser, with no download required.

There are pitfalls. Obviously, high-speed Internet access is absolutely essential to a smooth cloud gaming experience, and even under optimal conditions, both Gaikai and OnLive can occasionally become laggy, causing whatever game is being played to stutter and break up, graphically. It’s a relatively minor problem, but it exists.

Additionally, Gaikai, unlike OnLive, doesn’t actually offer games for sale — instead it redirects users who’d like to buy a particular game to an appropriate source, like Origin or GOG. That said, there is (in my opinion) absolutely no chance that Gaikai on PS3 would be a demo-only affair, which leads to another set of questions: Will Gaikai on PS3 be restricted to console games, or could PC games be made available, as well? Will Sony open up its back catalog of PlayStation and PlayStation 2 titles to the service, effectively killing the “backward compatibility” debate once and for all? Will games offered on Gaikai be cheaper than their retail or digital download counterparts? Will the service cost anything? Will it be restricted to PlayStation Plus subscribers?

Lots of questions, zero answers — for now. Sony’s E3 2012 Press Event takes place on June 4th, and Game Rant will be there. Look for more news on this story as it develops.

Update: it doesn’t prove that Gaikai’s “major announcement” is in any way related Sony or the PlayStation 3, but we can confirm that the company is sending out invitations to the press — because we got one.

“Gaikai has some major announcements in store for E3 that have the potential to change the future of video games, game consoles and how we play.”

Stay tuned, Ranters.

Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.

Source: VG 24/7, Gameblog [via Metro], NeoGAF [via Metro]

tags: OnLive, PS3, PS4, Sony