PlayStation Now wants to be the Spotify of games

A new online streaming gaming service from Sony, launching worldwide this summer, aims to let you play old games on just about anything.

Nick Hide Managing copy editor
Nick manages CNET's advice copy desk from Springfield, Virginia. He's worked at CNET since 2005.
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Nick Hide
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Nostalgia is the future. PlayStation Now is a new online streaming gaming service from Sony, launching worldwide this summer, that aims to let you play old games on just about anything.

It's a subscription service, like a Spotify of games -- although rental will be available too -- with it initially streaming PS3 games to the PS4, PS3, PS Vita and Sony's newest Bravia TVs. No prices have yet been announced.

Sony plans to expand Now to all smart phones and tablets, presumably with controller support, but hasn't said whether it intends to further mine its 20-year library of PSOne and PS2 games.

Games will be streamed at 720p, not Full HD 1080p, and even with that restriction a 5Mbps broadband connection is recommended. Your progress will automatically save in the cloud, so you can pick up where you left off on another device.

Like the ill-fated OnLive, all of PlayStation Now's computing is done in the cloud, so your controller inputs have to travel over the Internet and the corresponding action has to be streamed back again before you see it. The service's success depends on this being pretty well undetectable -- or at least good enough for what you pay for it.

Multiplayer with other Now users is possible, as well as with PS3 players using the same game on a disc, which is pretty clever.

PlayStation Now was on display on the show floor at the CES gadgetpalooza in Las Vegas, where CNET's Matthew Moskovciak had a play. He said The Last Of Us, one of the games used to show off the service, played with a modicum of lag, but the real hit was the graphical quality, which was significantly "softer" than the pin-sharp 1080p you're used to.

The service has been in the works since Sony bought game-streaming company Gaikai back in 2012. A limited beta will open in the US later this month.

Sony also boasted how well its new console is doing, with 4.2 million units sold in 53 countries since its launch in November. 9.7 million games have been sold -- just over two per console -- and gamers have broadcast 1.7 million streams via Twitch and Ustream.

Do you think Sony will be able to make a good experience out of streaming games? Have you tried other streaming services? Did the lag put you off, or do you get used to it? Play along in the comments, or on our lag-free Facebook page.