By Alexandra Burlacu email: email@example.com | Feb 17, 2013 10:33 AM EST
Sony's soon-to-be-unveiled PlayStation 4 (PS4) will reportedly let gamers stream PS3 games via Gaikai, which it bought for $380 million in 2012.
According to a new report, Sony will detail the streaming technology along with the new console at the press event on Wednesday, Feb. 20.
The scoop comes from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), who cites unnamed sources "familiar with the company's plans."
The new technology would enable users to play games streamed over the Internet. The streaming is designed to bring current PlayStation 3 titles to the new console, said the sources, and the new PlayStation 4 should also play new games on optical discs.
As previously mentioned, Sony acquired Gaikai Inc. last year, in a $380 million deal. While plenty of companies currently offer simple games over the Internet, the difference with Gaikai is that it offers online access to visually-intensive games, which typically require specialized circuitry found on gaming consoles and high-end PCs.
The new console is expected to pack several new features and enhancements besides the streaming technology. For instance, Sony's next-generation PlayStation may use higher-fidelity cameras for its "Move" motion-sensing technology and touch-sensing pads on new controllers, said people "who have seen and been briefed on the devices," as the WSJ reports.
Sony's streaming technology, however, may be one of the main attractions of the new console. According to industry executives, cloud gaming should become a major segment of the gaming market, as it doesn't involve high costs and allows consumers to easily play complex games on mobile devices.
On the other hand, while streaming technology involves lower costs for consumers, it is technically difficult and costly to build streaming services. OnLive Inc., for instance, had no choice but to sell itself to avoid bankruptcy last year. After facing overwhelming costs to run high-powered servers able to handle videogames and support multiple kinds of consumer devices, the Palo Alto, California company went under water.
It remains unclear at this point how Sony plans to charge customers for streamed games, but consumers will likely not be able to easily share games with friends or resell them to retailers, as is the common practice today.