The PlayStation 4 announcement from Sony brought us more games than I thought but for me Gaikai is the game stealer for PlayStation 4. When Dave Perry, who seems to have lost his Northern Ireland accent, started speaking, the possibilities for the PlayStation 4 where starting to unveil.
I have used Onlive, another cloud gaming company, since it launched in the UK and when playing on other consoles, I miss one feature. This feature has been improved in Gaikai and it is the ability to post game clips to Facebook, etc… without the need of any additional equipment. This may sound really sad but it is a lot of fun making these clips which, in Onlive’s case are 10 seconds long.
The PlayStation 4 improves on this 10-fold. During the Killzone demonstration after they played through the level, they uploaded the full level to their Facebook page. Just imagine what can happen now with this technology. Speed runs can be uploaded right in the thick of competition with your friends. Funny or blooper videos can be uploaded with ease. For developers, they will be able to see bugs in the games. I see nothing but positives with this feature.
Now let expand on this even further. We now have a record of our gaming lives on PlayStation. We already have trophies to show off but they only tell half the story. Now with Gaikai, we have a video record to keep for as long as we want. If developers or Sony are smart, they should integrate this video recording into the trophies – when you earn a trophy, a video record can show you exactly how you unlocked it.
With Gaikai they are trying to make things more instant. You will be able to demo games without having to download them as they are streamed right to your console. The demo’s themselves will not have to be cut or leave out features to keep the download size down. With that in mind, demos can now offer you a fuller experience like in Onlive, which offers an unlimited number of 30 minute trials and uncut full footage of the games.
When you buy a game you can play it after you have downloaded a small part of it. One of the chief complaints about the PlayStation is slow downloads so this should help rectify the problem. This announcement regarding the downloading of games is a gentle nod toward digital distribution being a BIG part in Sony’s PlayStation 4 plans.
What most commentators are talking about when Gaikai is mentioned is the backwards compatibility it will provide the Playstation 4 because the PS4 does not provide it any other way. Gaikai will provide access to the entire Playstation library from PS1 to the PS3. While this may be a disappointment to gamers who have built up their game collection, it will provide those of us who haven’t, the opportunity to experience the breadth of games the Playstation offers.
I expect a selection of these games to be part of the PlayStation Plus option for PlayStation 4. If Sony plays this right and introduces additional games on a weekly basis to this package, it will become very attractive. Eventually I expect PlayStation 4 games available to stream and, if and when that happens, it will determine the eventual direction for the PlayStation 5 ( i.e. will you need one or not?).
Also announced was the ability to play the streamed games to your tablets and phones. This is already possible with Onlive but this will be the breakthrough for cloud computing. With that in mind this could usher in a new era of games for tablets. Unlimited resources for a tablet game - can you imagine the possibilities?
Gaikai is, arguably, the PlayStation 4′s most important feature, both short term and long term. It will change the way you play games both for fun and competitively with the video sharing feature. Gaikai will document your gaming life, be that good and bad. Long term the PlayStation 4 could be the last console you will need to buy because of Gaikai. Streaming games means you don’t need to have the best hardware, so this could be the last PlayStation.