My Sony PlayStation 3 will be three years old this year which if my friends' PS3 experiences have taught me anything means that I should not be surprised if/when it gives up and dies. I've been backing up my save files as often as possible so as to be ready should such a thing happen, but keeping a save file archive on a USB memory stick is kind of pointless considering that I'll most likely just go buy a new PS3 to replace the dead one and some save files are protected in such a way that it's not possible to copy them around all willy-nilly (and don't get me started on the whole system backup feature which I've never been able to make play nice with my external hard drives). Sony seems to be coming to rescue, however, as there's talk that soon it will be possible to save game progress files to the Sony servers, thereby invoking the might of The Cloud. Kotaku has the story.
Cloud storage means that, rather than just keeping your save game data on your PlayStation 3's hard drive, users will be given the option to upload their saves remotely to a server. The advantage of this is that not only does it save the user space on their hard drive, but since it's tied to a PlayStation Network account, it can be pulled down to different consoles whenever and wherever the user desires. Sony will call the process "Online Saving", and it'll be made available as part of the PS3's upcoming 3.60 firmware update.
Two caveats: 1) Online Saving only applies to PlayStation Plus members. Not a problem for me (charter member here), and maybe this is what it takes to convince non-members to sign up. Some people are complaining about this requirement, but considering that Sony has to dedicate storage space to holding all of this data, I can understand why there's not a free ride here. 2) Online Saving can respect copy protection flags, meaning that paranoid publishers that really do not want save data getting around can opt out of the program. I really encourage companies not to do that, however. What is the harm in being able to backup save files to a protected Sony-controlled source (custom firmware worries aside)? There's a lot of goodwill to be gained in allowing players to protect all of their time invested in progressing through games. On the whole, I applaud the Online Saving initiative and can't wait to safeguard my years of PS3 gaming.