With the PlayStation Now beta just now rolling-out to PS3 and PS4 owners, Sony’s also throwing a bone to consumers who haven’t paid for one of the company’s shiny game consoles. Starting next week (in July), PlayStation Now streaming PS3 games will begin to appear on Sony Bravia TVs.
It’s interesting for several reasons that Sony’s making select Bravia TVs get PlayStation Now streaming PS3 games. Perhaps the most interesting reason is that Sony’s not even one year removed from the launch of its PlayStation 4 console. Presumably the company would’ve leveraged its still-in-development PlayStation Now service as a backwards-compatibility “crutch” for the PS4, thus hoping to drive sales even higher. Instead, Sony’s diluting the console-based value proposition of PlayStation Now by offering the service even to people who haven’t ponied up for the hot-selling system.
On the one hand, if Sony’s already confident in the Xbox One-smashing sales results of the PS4, why wouldn’t the company want to expand its sphere of influence to TV-only consumers? In that case, rolling-out the PlayStation Now streaming PS3 games to Bravia TVs is a great way to bring “new” customers into the fold.
Likewise, if Sony’s trying to stress-test its PlayStation Now streaming infrastructure, the more users it can put onto the system the better its final results.
With that said, the PlayStation Now streaming PS3 games will only appear on select Bravia TVs, not all. Starting Monday, all of Sony’s 2014 model-year 4K Ultra HD sets and some of its 2014 model-year 1080p models will get the PlayStation Pilot Service. If those owners live in the continental United States, all they’ll need to stream PS3 games on their TV is an internet-connected TV and a DualShock 3 controller plugged-in via USB.
Sony said it’s “supporting nearly all 2014 models of BRAVIA TVs.” Those models include:
- XBR-X950B series
- XBR-X900B series
- XBR-X800B series
- KDL-W950B series
- KDL-W850B series
- KDL-W800B series
- KDL-W700B series
- KDL-W600B series
But have that many people really bought 4K UHD TVs this year, and/or 1080p Bravias? If not, then the sample size will be only marginally helpful in terms of stress testing.
Which brings us to the second reason Sony’s decision to bring PlayStation Now streaming PS3 games to Bravia TVs is so interesting. There’s no console needed.
Well before the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched, pundits and nay-sayers everywhere said the end was nigh for home consoles. With so many millions of people playing casual games via mobile phones and tablets, was there still a market for consoles? And with Smart TVs gaining traction, would the increasing speeds of consumer Internet connections eventually eliminate the need for set-top boxes like those from Microsoft and Sony?
Although Sony’s PS4 has decimated the Xbox One in worldwide sales, both consoles are selling very well compared to their earlier counterparts. Clearly the nay-sayers were a bit off the mark.
But by bringing PlayStation Now streaming PS3 games to its own Bravia TVs, is Sony accelerating the death of the home console? We’re already seeing millions of computer users migrate to cloud-based services, and just this week Microsoft and Google have been duking it out over the size of their respective cloud-based storage services. Is Sony beginning to stream games directly to consumers’ TV the next logical step in home videogames? And if so, is Sony going to ultimately kill the one positive element from its most-recent earnings report?
I’ll be the first to admit I’m excited to hear that PlayStation Now streaming PS3 games will hit select Bravia TVs near me. I think it’s one of the most innovative yet practical services we’ve seen in some time, and the timing seems right for Sony to branch out. But I’m also a bit afraid as to what the step means for home game-console players like myself, and just how long I’ll be able to fire-up my PS4 or Xbox One rather than just turn on the TV. What do you think? Is this decision the first nail in the coffin to the home console? Speak up in the comments below.