You will no longer need to own a PlayStation 4 to play PlayStation 4 games: Sony today announced it’s bringing PS4 titles to its PlayStation Now service. That also means you will be able to play PS4 games on your PC.
If you’re not familiar, PlayStation Now is a $20 cloud service that basically streams you game footage, just like Netflix video, to your PS4 or PC. Except, of course, that you can interact with the video. Though stream quality depends heavily on your internet connection, it can provide a viable alternative to actually owning a console – if you have a strong internet connection and aren’t sensitive to the latency.
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Problem is, it’s been limited to PS3 games until now. That’s all fine and dandy if you just want to play some old titles – it was originally posed as a solution for the PS4’s lack of backwards compatibility – but doesn’t give people much reason to try it out otherwise. PS4 support changes that, and importantly, could help soften some of the blow of platform exclusives.
For example, say you only have an Xbox One, but you want to play exclusives like Horizon Zero Dawn or Uncharted 4. Now you just can pay 20 bucks and play the game on your PC. Sure, it won’t be the same as playing it with a real console, but for a lot of people, it might be good enough. For Sony, it means it can reach gamers it might not have otherwise, and potentially compel these users to eventually buy into the PlayStation hardware ecosystem in the future.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is taking a slightly different approach. It recently announced a $10 Game Pass service that allows users to download full games onto their consoles instead of streaming them from the cloud. That means you get the full performance of a local game, but of course, need to have the console in the first place. On the other hand, the Xbox Play Anywhere program means you’ll be able to play more games on either your PC or console, and save shares between the two.
We don’t know much else about the PS4 update to PlayStation now, such as what resolution it will output or what games will be available As much as I’d like to hope Sony will release its exclusives on PlayStation Now at the same time as on the PS4, it seems more realistic that the company won’t want to cannibalize hardware sales.
But who knows, maybe the company will surprise us. Sony will be launching a private test in the next few weeks, and says active users of PS Now show keep an eye on their inbox for an invite.