So, Sony has acquired Gaikai. This changes everything.
In my post from a few years ago (you can see it here) I countered the trend at the time on talking about the next round of consoles. So many people were sure that the next consoles we on the horizon, but it made little sense to me.
Now, with the move by Sony, I question it yet again. Microsoft has plans that we’ve seen, but they can change. Nintendo has a lackluster offering that, in the light of current events, will be dead on arrival. For those who might not see what this means, Sony has essentially negated the need for a new console in the manner that we know now.
Feasibly, with this move, they could eventually move away from a dedicated piece of hardware, beyond the Dual Shock controller. Gaikai technology will allow the streaming of games with higher definition than current gen hardware, thereby negating a new console. Any new hardware offering would only carry with it the features that make accessing their network easier.
Those features do not necessarily need to be boxed in a console. They could feasibly be included in their televisions, and through pretty much any device you use to access the internet. Sony can reduce the Playstation down to its most basic element and the one piece of the cloud gaming puzzle than many of us have pondered; the Dual Shock controller.
Properly executed, Sony would only require the user to have a Dual Shock controller to play games through their network. You can play on any device capable of playing the stream and connecting to the controller, even (for all you PC lovers out there) your PC and Mac.
As many of you know, developing for the PS3 has been more challenging for dev teams than for the Xbox. It was the same with the PS2 but with so many in existence it was simply the cost of doing business. Sony has suffered somewhat from this, but now they have the power to turn the tables.
Games can be available on the Playstation Network the moment they are certified for production. While the packaged good is off to the presses, the PSN will have the game ready to play. This is a definite incentive for a community of users with a voracious appetite for the newest experience. It also eliminates the hassle of software updates for the user since that would all happen on the backend.
I mean, really, it’s already in place. Go to a browser of your choosing and type in www.sonyentertainmentnetwork.com. Behold your next Playstation. I don’t question so much what will Microsoft do, but how will this affect Apple and iTunes? Surely, a move to cloud gaming will mean massive completion for Apple, but without an input device, how will they be able to host core games? Is an Apple controller on the way?
The console war is over. The service war shall begin. The first casualty is Nintendo I’m afraid. Like Sega, they will need to become a software only company or invest heavily in creating their own cloud gaming service.
With Gaikai gone, and Onlive potentially becoming part of Microsoft, Nintendo is left fighting on a deserted battlefield. Their handheld will live on for a little while, but really, why bother? In my opinion, they could be far more profitable striking a strategic alliance with Sony (or Apple?) as the exclusive carrier of their games. No more hardware to house, to have excess of or shortages of. No more packaged software to manufacture and house.
It will be very interesting to see this all unfold over the coming months and see how the big industry players will react. I’m stocking up on popcorn!