Sony’s Dark History of Games Streaming Services.

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Article by Badger Nimahson

With the release of Google Stadia hype surrounding games streaming services is on the increase. But cloud gaming isn’t a new thing. As Sony’s history of acquisitions proves.

Back in 2012, Sony purchased Gaikai for $380 million. A cloud streaming service that ultimately became a core feature of the PS4.

What gamers might not release is that the Gaikai purchase was used in some key features of the PS4. Without the acquisition of Gaikai, the PS4 wouldn’t have features such as remote play or share play.

Now we have all had those issues when trying to use remote play. It was choppy or just straight flat out refused to connect to the PS Vita or PS TV. These had nothing to do with the technology that Sony employed but the fact that the internet infrastructure just wasn’t up to the job.

Games Streaming Service

Fast forward three years to 2015 and most homes (in the UK) had fairly decent broadband speeds that were finally capable of game streaming services. 

To consumers, Sony embraced cloud streaming by launching PlayStation Now.  A games streaming service allowing you to play PlayStation Classics on the PlayStation 4 without having to download or install the games.

Although there could be an argument that Sony in fact tried to stifle the changing technological landscape.

Probably the most curious acquisition of Sony was when, in 2015, it purchased “important patents and technology “ of Onlive. Only to shut it down, almost immediately, on April 30th 2015.

Onlive was a game streaming platform that allowed gamers to play PC games via Onlive hardware without the need for an expensive gaming rig. The Cloudlift streaming service even allowed for save games across multiple devices.

There is little information on why Sony purchased Onlive. Why they shut it down. In fact, no one seems to know how much they paid either. The purchase is simply described as “an undisclosed sum”

Games Streaming Service

Was Onlive a threat to Sony? Did Sony purchase the patents and technology simply to stifle the rise of cloud streaming game services and maintain dominance of the gaming market?

With the removal of Onlive from the market, Sony had the only viable games streaming service… for the time being.

In 2017, Blaze launched its Shadow streaming service in France. In the first quarter of 2018 they expanded the service to the rest of Europe and the USA.

Shadow is an amazing service and for the first time proved that streaming services can replace the need for expensive hardware.

Quite simply Shadow allowed you to have a top of the range gaming PC on any internet-enabled device and worked wonderfully.

Games Streaming Service

Given Sony’s history of buying up cloud gaming services, it was surprising to see they didn’t follow suit and gobble up Shadow. Possibly because there were now too many companies to buy in order to keep a grip on the technology and stifle its growth.

There are numerous companies investing in cloud gaming services right now. (I will cover that in a future article) and maybe Sony has admitted the future is in cloud gaming and not hardware.

Perhaps that is why in 2019 Sony and Microsoft announced a partnership in cloud streaming.

Basically, with the technology and patents Sony has acquired over the years they have the means to create a brilliant game streaming service. They have proven this with PlayStation Now (only sticking point for me personally is the price).

Microsoft and Sony team up

What Sony doesn’t have is the means to deliver its games streaming service to multiple devices. This is where Microsoft comes in.

The details of the partnership haven’t been made public. But I would guess that by teaming up Microsoft gets access to Sony’s cloud gaming patents and technology acquisitions. In return, Sony gets access to Microsoft’s Azure network.

So, in conclusion, Sony has a history of buying up and shutting down games streaming services. It has successfully run its own games streaming services for years.

Now that internet infrastructure is in place multiple companies are investing in cloud gaming services and Sony can no longer keep a stranglehold on the technology.

Does this ultimately mean that the PlayStation 5 is being built with game streaming services in mind? If so could it be the last ever hardware console produced by Sony?

As always let us know what you think in the comments below.

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