I was chatting with a couple of the lads the other day and we got to the subject of video games. It’s always a bit of an embarrassing topic for me as my buddies are always quick to point out that I don’t seem like the kind of nerd who sits at a computer to work on a website dedicated to gaming news and the like. It’s true: I’m not fat, I’m not a scruffy neckbeard, I’m not a sad loner who plays Final Fantasy online, and my partner is an actual human being that doesn’t exist solely over the internet. I get pissed at the pub and end up sleeping under a tree if a route home can’t be processed by my boozed-up brain. Not your stereotypical nerd, then.
That’s not the worst part about talking games with my group of friends, unfortunately. As we’ve all gotten older and have our respective careers, families and other commitments, the rest of the gang has fallen out of touch with what’s what in video games. Yeah, they still play but it’s mainly whatever’s the big new game being pushed in their face by adverts. I was quite surprised, then, that the usual chatter of who’s better at FIFA, who’s the “CoD God”, and why Final Fantasy is rubbish was replaced by something a little more interesting: video game streaming. I was quick to point out that PlayStation Now is a beauty and that it’s given my PS Vita new life. Unsurprisingly, most of the group didn’t immediately know that PlayStation Now existed. Clumps.
After five minutes explaining the concept, the lads were hooked and the discussion kicked off. Arguments came about over whether a Netflix-like streaming service was fit for games (it is) and if the price was too high (that’s subjective) and whether it’s worth playing older games on newer machines. One thing that stuck with me over the last few days was what one of the boys said about PlayStation Now, and after days of the idea sitting in my head, popping up at random moments, I’ve concluded it’s actually a genius idea. Unfortunately, it’s probably the only decent idea he’ll ever utter and it’s also very unlikely to happen: PlayStation Now on Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U etc.
When I was explaining that the service doesn’t require your hardware to be powerful (the PS Vita is much weaker than the PS4 but the service is the same) and that even some Blu-Ray players can do it, one of the fellas (can’t remember who, we were rather rowdy on the booze) asked why it’s not on the Xbox One. He soon got a slap off one of the others and then we all played some pool and the conversation drifted off into football and other manly stuff. But that idea has bloody well stuck and I’m now convinced that it’s something that needs to be explored.
The majority of video-game consumers will only buy one console per-generation. They’re expensive things, so most folks will choose their console and see it through to the end without buying a competing product. Of course, there are those who simply must have every console under the sun, but for families, young couples and the like, it’s simply not an economical endeavor. It’s fair to assume, then, that most non-PS4 players won’t be picking up a PS4 (unless there’s a mid-gen switch) and probably don’t own a PS Vita and won’t be using PS Now. It’s a shame, isn’t it? The PS3’s library of games is easily matched by what was offered on the Xbox 360, but then we have those console exclusive games that were only playable on the PS3. Those very games are available via PlayStation Now and it doesn’t cost you the price of a console to play.
Sony is planning to roll out PlayStation Now on more devices in the future; smartphones, televisions, microwaves etc. But what about competing consoles? There’s no reason it couldn’t technically work, after all, it’s just a streaming app like Netflix (alright, there’s a bit more to it, but for the sake of simplicity) so it shouldn’t be a problem, like as I said before – the PS Vita can run it fine, no reason another console can’t. There’s also the possibility that the service could stream PS4 games in the future, but that’s not really something to discuss right now as it’s probably some time until we see it.
What’s the motivation behind it? Erm, you get more games? I can’t even begin to give any numbers on the amount of PS3 owners who switched to Xbox One, or Wii to PS4 or blah blah. What is apparent is that a great many Xbox One and Nintendo Wii U owner won’t have touched a PS3 game, but by having a cheap service on the console, those players are then being offered hundreds more games to complement their current native games. I posed this to a few people in work and among friends, the reaction was mostly positive and echoed my thoughts of “yes, please!”. Why wouldn’t you want more games?
But is it possible? It’s possible, sure, but the pettiness between platform owners, Microsoft and Sony in particular, would certainly be a massive road block. The simple fact is that no console maker wants the competition to profit from them. Simple as. It’s my bet that if Minecraft wasn’t the global success that it is, Shuhei Yoshida, Kaz the Lad, and Andrew House would be infiltrating homes to destroy all PlayStation’s that house the game.
The other barrier would be the fanboyism. Yes, it’s a word now. Probably… It’s sad that in this day and age you get your console and you defend it with your life. I’ve seen countless idiots go online with nothing more than a pocketful of troll comments about the other consoles. It’s likely, then, that if this service was available on the Xbox One or Nintendo Wii U or NX or whatever they end up calling it, the players would simply not touch it and claim it’s a disgrace to have a competitor’s product on the platform. This is actually something I heard when I was asking around. One of my intellectually challenged mates actually said: “Nah, fuck that mate. Wouldn’t touch it. Why would I bother with old games on the Xbox One anyway?”
Yesterday he texted me to say that backwards compatibility is “fuckin’ boss” and wanted to know if I knew when more games were being added. Prat.
That’s not to say that all people would be in the same frame of mind, but it’s still sad all the same to know that there would be some who would oppose it out of principle. I don’t get why; when I was a kid I had a Nintendo 64 and my best friend had a PS One. Instead of spending our afterschools hitting each other with our respective gamepads and declaring them superior, we’d take turns going round to each others house to play the games the other couldn’t. These days, that kind of mentality just doesn’t exist in the same way that it used to.
It’s a shame, really, because the technology is there and it’s proven to work and people are enjoying it, but the biggest reach of all – competing consoles – just won’t get a look in. Instead it’s all about the mobile bloody phones. Yes, I’m bitter. I love my handset and I get the shakes if it’s not within reaching distance, but I wish it didn’t become the target for all major game makers. That’s a whinge for another day, though.
This isn’t a one-sided thing, either. If Microsoft or Nintendo had their own streaming services, you can bet your arse I’d be the first one to give it a go. Why? Because I’m a cheap skate and the fewer consoles I have to buy, the better. But that’s neither here nor there as Microsoft and Nintendo don’t have streaming services… Yet.
What do you reckon? Would you be happy to play the games you missed out on? Wouldn’t it be ace to be able to play the likes of God of War, Uncharted, and Sly Cooper for a few quid a month? Or would you pull out your Phil Spencer action figure and smack anyone who dares to suggest such a notion?