PlayStation Now launches on PC

Starting today, you can play select PlayStation 3 games on your Windows PC, as long as you have a PlayStation Now subscription.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
3 min read
Watch this: PlayStation on Windows PC becomes a reality

This isn't some hack. It's not a magic trick.

Sony is actually, really, truly bringing PlayStation 3 games to your Windows PC, console wars be damned.

As of right now, you can play previously exclusive games like Uncharted 3 and Shadow of the Colossus on a Windows laptop. I know, because I did.

The catch: you'll be playing those games over the internet with Sony's streaming game service, PlayStation Now. Think Netflix.

PlayStation Now has already been around for a couple of years on the PS4, PS3, PS Vita handheld, plus a handful of Blu-ray players and smart TVs. For $20 a month or $45 for three (£13 monthly in the UK, but alas, not available in Australia), the service gives players unlimited access to a long list of over 400 PlayStation 3 games. (The service is available only in those countries as well as in Canada and Japan, with Belgium and the Netherlands currently in beta.)

Update, August 30: PlayStation Now is live on Windows PCs today. Sony is also offering a 12-month subscription to PlayStation Now for $100, in the US and Canada.

Enlarge Image

I played PS3 games on this Dell laptop.

Sean Hollister/CNET

Like Netflix or any other streaming service, the quality can vary wildly depending on your internet connection -- Sony requires a solid 5Mbps connection at all times, and that doesn't change today.

Enlarge Image

The $24.99 PlayStation USB Wireless Adapter will let you connect a controller wirelessly.

Sean Hollister/CNET

What changes is the size of Sony's audience. With a Windows laptop or tablet, you aren't tethered to a big-screen TV. You could theoretically take these PlayStation games anywhere -- and wherever you go, your saved games stream with you. (Sony says that PS3 players can transfer their saves to PlayStation Now via PS+ Cloud Storage. You can access it by pressing the PS Button and going into the PS Now XMB.)

There are some caveats, though. In addition to the pricey monthly subscription and the stable internet connection, Sony recommends your Windows device have a 3.5GHz (or faster!) processor for best results.

(That's strange, because streaming game services usually don't need a lot of local processing power -- years ago, I streamed Mass Effect 2 to an old netbook with no real trouble -- but Sony offers a seven-day free trial so you can test it out.)

And you'll need a DualShock 4 controller to play on Windows, instead of the older DualShock 3 that worked just fine with PlayStation Now on other platforms.

Still, the newer controller comes with perks: you'll be able to plug it in with any standard Micro-USB phone charger cable, or a new $25 wireless USB dongle that Sony will ship this September. That dongle will work with PS4 Remote Play (the software that lets you stream your own PS4 games to PC) as well.

Eric Lempel, head of Sony's PlayStation Network, wouldn't talk about future plans for PlayStation Now in an interview. He couldn't say whether the service might come to smartphones, for instance, or whether Sony might stream newer PS4 titles or older PS2 titles later down the road.

It's not hard to see a future where you might not need a physical PlayStation at all -- much like how you may not need an Xbox -- but Lempel didn't talk about that.

Today, it's just about bringing this small chunk of PlayStation to a new audience. "The PlayStation launched so many great franchises, and this brings new life to them," said Lempel.