Yesterday, during Kaz Hirai's CES presentation, Sony officially unveiled its plans for PlayStation Now (the new name for its Gaikai-based cloud gaming service). While it's easy to jump to the conclusion that cloud streaming will mean you don't really need a PlayStation console in the future, Sony Computer Entertainment America's marketing VP John Koller told CVG that physical consoles are still very important to Sony.
"It's not necessarily the future of PlayStation, but it is a philosophical change and a reality that we want our gaming experiences to be broadly experienced," he said. "So, when you look at PS3 games - huge catalogue, really strong and diverse lineup of genres and games - we want people to be able to experience those, yes, on PlayStation platforms, but if you own a Bravia [TV] it'd be great if you could pair your DualShock 3 and be able to instantly play."
"PlayStation Now's strong benefit is instantaneous gameplay because that is a problem in this industry. We've got to solve that and I think this does that. We've been working towards that on the download side with Play-as-you-Download [on PS4], and with PS Now we get people instantly playing whether you're on a PlayStation, a Bravia and over time, tablets and smartphones."
He added, "We've been very open and bullish on physical consoles. So I don't think PS Now necessarily disenfranchises future consoles in any way. But it does, I think, show our willingness to try and focus on content as primary. Really, again, focusing on the gamer first - obviously they want great content, great experiences. Those experiences can be had in many different places. So it's more of an open position now."
Koller wouldn't discuss pricing or if PS Now will be tied into PS Plus in some way, but he did confirm that a DualShock controller would be required for anyone attempting to use PS Now on a tablet or smartphone. There won't be any forced touchscreen controls for PS3 titles.
"It needs to go through the DualShock. The DualShock remains the key ingredient," he said. "So that controller experience needs to go perfectly. We didn't want to utilise touch screen or anything like that because the games are best played with a DualShock."
At the beginning of the interview, Koller was also asked about Sony's early sales lead over Xbox One (4.2 million vs. 3 million) and how important it actually is, and the executive responded with a pretty level-headed answer: "It's really not. We look at it really just introspectively. The '4.2 million' number is important because it gets us further towards our goal. And that goal is the largest install base we can possibly get - to encourage publishers and developers to continue to make great game experiences for PS4."
"That's the ultimate goal. You want to make it economically viable, and a great business for the big publishers and developers to say, 'You know what, I wanna be on PS4 either first, exclusively' or whatever it is, utilize the feature set the PS4 has and really encourage that as a business."