With PlayStation TV and PlayStation Now, Sony Takes More Steps Away From Traditional Consoles

The PlayStation TV, via Sony.

The PlayStation TV, via Sony.

Sony made a couple of interesting announcements at their annual E3 press conference last night. One was for a streaming program and one was for a device — but both point toward a future that takes the PlayStation out of “PlayStation games” altogether.

The device that Sony announced is the PlayStation TV. It is, basically, a PlayStation Vita — their handheld console — without a screen attached. The tiny device plugs into the TV and syncs with a wireless PlayStation 3 (DualShock 3) controller. From there, a player can not only play downloaded Vita (and PSP and PS One) games, but also can stream PS4 games to a different TV in the same house.

In other words, if you’re busy playing the newest Assassin’s Creed game on the PS4 in the living room, but your spouse really wants to watch the Game of Thrones finale (such as…), you could walk into the bedroom and use a PlayStation TV to stream the game into that room and continue playing.

The PlayStation TV will also allow users to access that service Sony gave more details about, PlayStation Now. That the service that Sony first announced in January at CES.

PlayStation Now is a cloud-based, live-streaming gaming rental service. The service enters “open Beta” — basically a soft launch where users can expect some quirks and frequent updates — in the U.S. and Canada on July 31. For between $3 and $20, players can rent access to one of the roughly 100 launch titles, and stream away.

The pricing appears to be time-based; $2.99 gets a “short period,” according to Sony’s press release. But the more interesting part is that Sony “plans to offer subscription options in the future.” In other words: console video games really are getting their very own Netflix model.

A bunch of the questions from the first announcement are still unanswered: we don’t know if or when this will support new, just-launched titles, we don’t know how much subscription plans are likely to cost, and we don’t know if players who still own their now-obsolete PS2 and PS3 games will get some kind of discount on those titles, or if they’ll just have to rent access at the standard prices.

But we do know that Sony wants the service to work on everything: the PS3, the PS4, the PlayStation TV, and Sony smart TVs — with no console attached. It won’t be available on all those platforms in July, but it’s becoming just a short matter of time before sitting down for an evening of PlayStation gaming doesn’t require a PlayStation at all.

PlayStation Now rentals for ‘most titles’ between $3 and $20 [Sony press release, via Joystiq]
Introducing PlayStation TV [PlayStation Europe blog]