While the emphasis at the annual video games show E3 last month was on games, games, and more games, there was an increasing trend toward accessing those games via streaming services, recording them, and uploading them via Twitch or other means, and for intra-game play within the home.
Sony and Xbox executives focused on game titles during their E3 2014 press briefings last month.
Microsoft’s Xbox chief Phil Spencer spent his 90-minute press conference presenting game trailer after game trailer. Some games were Xbox One platform exclusives, some were third-party games available on PS4 and perhaps WiiU, some were new, and some were “reboots.” For a company that seemed to be staking its future in the console world on making Xbox One the hub of a home entertainment system, it was just plain odd to not hear one word about anything other than games.
Does that mean that Microsoft is changing or abandoning their strategy? Likely not. However, what it does possibly signal is the fact that with reports showing PlayStation 4 consistently outselling Xbox One, they have to go to the core audience: gamers. The rest will follow in time, but for now, it seems clear that Xbox’s marketing efforts will be “all games, all the time.”
For Sony, was also “all about the games,” but the take at E3 was a bit broader. In addition to game exclusives, their pitch on cross-platform third-party games is that they “play better” on a PS4. Want to take part in the new “broadcast your game play” trend popularized by the likes of Twitch? Sony announced that it will add YouTube to PS4 with a definite focus on users being able to send game recordings to friends, perhaps to brag.
What does this mean to you from a systems hardware perspective? Along with our constant plea to upgrade a client’s networking and wireless infrastructure whenever you have a chance, this will mean provisioning for a hard-wire connection to a special “gamer headset with chat mic” so that the gamer can replay himself or herself achieving a high score or that elusive “next level” with what can only be described as “gamer/director commentary” added. Unlike wireless headsets for music, currently these must be wired regardless of the console platform.
Unlike their competitors, there were also some hardware announcements that might have some impact on your installation plans and designs. For situations where the game console will be out in the open in a modern décor, Sony will offer a limited edition of the system in “glacier white,” starting on September 9. More DUALSHOCK4 remotes will also be available not only in white but also in “urban camouflage.”
More importantly, Sony is expanding its online offerings with the PlayStation Now service, starting an open Beta on July 31 on PS4 consoles then moving later to PS3, PlayStation Vita, and eventually PlayStation TV. The new service will leverage cloud-based technology to stream PS3 games, and in the early test phases, a number of pricing tiers, operations, and rental durations will be tested as it moves toward full availability at the end of the year.
More on PlayStation TV
PlayStation TV on display at E3 2014 PlayStation TV, with an announced “fall” availability, can best be described as the guts of a PlayStation Vita in an in-home, rather than portable, form factor. It has a special memory card slot to increase on-board storage, wired and wireless networking, a USB 3.0 port, and an HDMI port for connection to your TV.
At least for now, in the spirit of “all games, all the time,” the focus of what it will do centers around PlayStation Now’s ability to “stream to play” more than 100 PS3 games, another without the need for a console, as well as other PSP, PS Vita, and PS One classic titles. There will be a way to upload game play in a Twitch-like fashion, as well as play games in an Ad Hoc wireless mode with a Vita handheld.
If this is starting to sound conceptually like an Amazon Fire TV, you’re not far off the mark, but that would lead you to ask about non-gaming movie and entertainment content. At E3, Sony officials were mum about that other than to say it is coming and that we’ll learn more before the launch. One has to believe that it will have Netflix and other mainline services, as well as access to Sony’s own movie and music services. Draw your own conclusions, but time will tell.