Matthew Panzarino Discusses The Playstation 4 Announcement

22 February 2013

The Next Web:

Sony talked a lot about using Gaikai technology to stream old PS games to the PS4, when it really should have been talking about streaming some to your iPhone or Android tablet. It should have been talking about offering indie game developers access to the PlayStation network and, through that, the PlayStation app in people’s pockets. If you want to fight the subsumption of console gaming into handheld gaming, plant a trojan horse on phones that opens a window into your gaming world with the tap of an icon.

Without question, Sony didn’t push the boat out as far as they could. I saw no change in how Sony views the console market and no change to how Sony manages the console games market — indie developers remain shut out. Their announcements boil down to a more powerful PS3 driven by the same traditional, backward, philosophy.

On that underlying point, Panzarino is spot on, but I disagree that pushing Gakai-powered PS3 games on iOS and Android is the right way forward. If Sony had announced a PlayStation app for iPad that streamed games, it would have been seen, retrospectively, as a big misstep.

Streaming console games relies on a persistent internet connection with low latency and reasonably fast download speeds. This just doesn’t match up well with mobile. On cellular data, 3G is a definitive no and LTE would be shaky — the pings just aren’t fast enough for even casual gaming. Even when at home, most people’s broadband and WiFi infrastructure isn’t fit for purpose or available universally in some rooms of their house.1

For certain, Sony needs to adapt their stance towards iOS. I just don’t think streaming is the answer, for the short and medium term, and a much better path would be to redistribute resources to bringing AAA titles to the iPad. I mean, assuming the network issue is overcome, what about the controller problem? You can’t adequately play Call of Duty for consoles using a touch screen. When it comes down to it, streaming console games to mobile is a way to circumvent native application development. Therefore, the concept — at a minimum — faces the same issues as HTML 5 apps do.

1 Most people don’t have an AirPort Extreme.