iRant: The PS4 Could Be The Last Playstation You Buy
Evan Hirsh | On 27, Feb 2013
Gaming is changing in huge ways which we could not imagine were possible only seven years ago. The words “4K” “Cloud Gaming” “Asymmetrical gaming” run through our heads like buzzwords, spawning massive amounts of excitement in the press, and the consumer base. The title of this post might come to a shock to you, as you might think that I am talking about the end of the Playstation brand. Not at all, I am merely talking about its transcendence into a service rather than a physical box. I am talking about the reason Sony didn’t show the PS4 at the reveal conference, because the ideology of “Playstation” is changing from a physical box, to a service that will span decades to come.
I loved OnLive. I thought they had a legitimate chance to become the leaders in what was to be the cloud gaming industry. The sad news of OnLive’s demise took a toll on me, as I was a soon to be adopter of their game system. There are those who say that the OnLive was a complete waste and a failure, however I see a different eventuality. I believe that OnLive was ahead of its time, and ended up paving the road for something much larger than itself.
First I will address the problems of the system. There was a slight amount of lag while playing games, and your experience did revolve around your internet connection speed. OnLive was waiting for a time when every home had a Google Fiber connection, and at that point, I am sure it would flourish. Since Sony’s announcement of the PS4, I have seen it as the continuation of the OnLive ideology into a hybrid of local and cloud gaming. Just like when using OnLive, you can instantly play demos by pressing a button, and eventually, stream PS4 games on your Vita. Unlike OnLive however, these games can be downloaded for local playing, and even played while they are still downloading.
The social features of OnLive make a return in the new Playstation Gaikai service, such as the ability to watch your friends play at any time, however, now you can control their game if they accept your request. I call this change in the ideology of how an online gaming network should operate the “virtual couch”. Once a system or network reaches the pinnacle of this ideology, every action that could be done if the two players were sitting in the same room can be done from a network connection. This includes drop in drop out co-op, screen linking, live streaming, party chatting, and finally, control requesting.
This virtual couch is quite concerning for me, as I have stated in another editorial, I love local multiplayer, and I do not like how it is fading from the overall landscape. I sincerely hope that this shift from local multiplayer is the result of developers trying to get all the possible power out of these systems, and not having the technological capability to include local multiplayer modes (Dead Space 3, SSX),
Reaching back to the benefits of cloud gaming, one of the advertised features of OnLive is that they can update their servers, so you would never have to buy a new system again. This is what I feel will happen with the PS4. I can see the system having a 7 year lifespan, and at the end of that lifespan, networks will be more than capable to support what OnLive once was. This would allow for games with a higher graphical fidelity than is capable of being rendered on the PS4, being done off site. This means, that the PS4 will not have a successor capable of running physical discs, or not have a successor at all. This means that the PS4 could be the last Playstation home console that you ever buy, and that will be a good thing.